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My car is overdue for service – is that a problem?

My 2014 Toyota Corolla has 89,497 kilometres on it. It was supposed to be serviced at 79,806 kilometres but was skipped. Now, I want to do a service and I was told that it now needs an engine flush. Is this really necessary? What happens to the car when I skip a service? - Tshepo

Toyota Canada's online maintenance calculator says an oil change for your vehicle is due every 8,000 kilometres, using 0W20 synthetic oil. By my calculations, your car travelled approximately 17,500 kilometres on a single oil change. I know life is busy and these things happen, but this is not an occurrence that you want to repeat.

In reality, your car will more than likely survive this misstep. Fortunately, your engine uses a synthetic oil, which will have provided additional protection. Therefore, given the newness of the car and the synthetic oil, hopefully only a minor negative impact will be felt. Performing an oil flush can't hurt, so you might as well get one done. Unfortunately, the gap in your service history will put you in a tough situation if you ever require an engine repair while the vehicle is still under warranty.

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Deciphering exactly what happens to an engine when you skip an oil change is impossible, but sludge buildup will be the most obvious side effect. The slimy, degraded oil clogs the filtration system and all the tiny oil-delivery passages, starving engine components that depend on good clean oil flow.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.

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