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April is National Car Care Month!

Posted on 14, April, 2015

April is National Car Care Month:

Time to Spring for Vehicle

Maintenance

Slide1Spring is here and it is time to give your car some extra attention, says the non-profit Car Care Council. Results of vehicle inspections held at community car care events across the country during Car Care Months in April and October 2014 reveal that 84 percent of vehicles need service or parts, up 5 percent from the previous year.

“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value. These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their second largest investment,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

When checking lubricants and fluids, the three top failure rates were: low washer fluid at 27 percent; low or dirty motor oil at 25 percent; and low, leaky or dirty coolant at 17 percent. Power steering, brake and transmission fluids were also checked, and had failure rates of 13 percent and below.

When checking under the hood, nearly one in five vehicles (18 percent) needed a new air filter and 13 percent had the “check engine” light on. At least one belt was reported as unsatisfactory in 17 percent of the vehicles inspected, and 8 percent required at least one new hose. Battery cables, clamps and terminals needed maintenance in 14 percent of the vehicles inspected, while 9 percent of the batteries were not properly held down.

SD178Approximately 16 percent of vehicles had front windshield wiper failures, and at least 11 percent of vehicles needed lights replaced, including headlights, brake lights and license plate lights. Improperly inflated tires were found on 10 percent of the cars, and 14 percent had worn tread and were in need of replacement.

“Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs to make sure it is ready for the upcoming spring and summer travel season,” said White. “Following a routine maintenance program, like the freepersonalized schedule and e-mail reminder service the Car Care Council offers, can help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Or contact us at paloaltoshell.com

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Posted on 21, October, 2014

Halloween is one of the most anticipated times of the year for young children. To help keep trick-or-treaters as safe as possible, Palo Alto Shell reminds motorists to drive slowly, especially through neighborhoods, to be extra careful when entering or exiting driveways or alleyways, and to be car care aware by making sure their vehicle’s brakes, lights and wipers are working properly.

1. Brakes

A vehicle’s brake system is the most critical safety item on a vehicle, but brakes wear out and eventually need replacement. Several factors that affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repairs, such as letting the brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which can be potentially dangerous and lead to more costly repairs.

2. Windshield Wipers & Fluid

A dirty windshield may look spooky but does not help to see children crossing the street. If the weather turns, cracked or torn wipers will also pose a problem to visibility.

3. Vehicle Lights

Check that all your lights are working for maximum performance and visibility on Halloween. This year, the end of Daylight Saving Time isn’t until Nov. 3, which means that children will be out at dusk trick-or-treating. Driving at dusk is difficult because although the sky is still bright, objects on the road can merge with shadows and fade into darkness.

4. Street Safety

Parents and adults should remind their little ghosts and goblins to get out of cars on the curb side and not the traffic side, to stop at all corners and to use crosswalks. Children should look left, right and left again before crossing, stay on sidewalks, avoid crossing through yards and wear bright, reflective and flame retardant clothing.

Did You Know Your Car Battery is Affected by the Heat Too?

Posted on 14, June, 2014 car battery light 300x282 Did You Know Your Car Battery is Affected by the Heat Too?

If the heat of summer is wearing you down, it is likely taking its toll on your car battery too. Contrary to popular belief, summer highs rather than winter lows pose the greater threat to battery life, according to Palo Alto Shell.

Sooner or later all batteries have to be replaced. Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, leading to slow death for a battery.

Most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. Heat, more than cold, shortens battery life.

Colder temperatures increase the thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over, causing the battery to have to work more. These factors lead to harder starting.

To get the most life out of a battery, Palo Alto Shell suggests the following simple steps:

  • Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
  • If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
  • Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
  • Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.

Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple back and forth to work. Other factors include driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems. Check the battery if you notice headlights and interior lights dim, accessories that fail to operate, or the “check engine” and/or battery light illuminated.

Simple Vehicle Maintenance Can Improve Your Fuel Economy

Posted on 17, May, 2014

With fluctuating fuel prices soaring higher each day, we will do almost anything to save money on transportation especially when it comes to conserving fuel. However, traditional tips such as turning off the air conditioning and driving slowly are not the only ways to conserve gas mileage. In fact there are many simple, painless steps any vehicle owner can take to ensure their car is operating as efficiently as possible with minimal effort. Taking these steps to conserve gas mileage will not only save money, but also build healthy habits for your vehicle to ensure safety and maintain quality of the vehicle.

fuel economy 300x165 Simple Vehicle Maintenance Can Improve Your Fuel Economy

Be conscientious of your tire pressure. Most vehicle owners underestimate the importance of properly inflated tires. When inflated properly, you can save nearly 4% on gas mileage. Under-inflated tires can cause a mileage loss of near .5% for every 1 psi drop in pressure for all four tires. Not only will this save fuel economy, but greatly improve the performance and safety of your vehicle as well as increasing the life of your tires.

Schedule routine tune-ups and do not deviate from that schedule. Keeping your engine in proper working order will allow it to perform at peak condition and ensure fuel is not wasted performing extraneous tasks.

Replacing clogged air filters and keeping a prompt oil changing routine can also save a combined 4% on fuel economy. It is important to use the correct oil and filters as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure accuracy of parts. Taking time to go above and beyond when doing simple tasks such as these will make all the difference in the future longevity of your vehicle. Understanding what repairs and parts a vehicle needs is an important job for any car owner, not only to ensure the standard of workmanship a dealer will provide you, but more importantly to know when a vehicle needs servicing.

If needed, addressing serious preexisting issues is the most important tip to improve fuel economy. The engine of a vehicle cannot perform at any acceptable standard if major auto repair is needed, thus wasting fuel overworking can cause serious losses in gas mileage.

It is easy to compare our vehicles to ourselves. You need fuel each day to survive, without proper nutrients you will likely be tired or weak. If you are sick you need more food and every task is a struggle. Similar to you, when your vehicle is worn down or needs repair it cannot function correctly, using more fuel and lacking in performance, having a properly maintained motor is the lifeline of a vehicle.

However, not all fuel economy is saved from inside the engine with preventative measures. Naturally, modifying your driving habits can improve fuel economy equally to any other precaution. Making effort to stop and start carefully, while observing speed limits can greatly improve fuel efficiency.

There is a direct positive correlation between routine auto repair and gas mileage consumption, meaning any customer can fight against rising gas prices and improve fuel economy to save money. These simple steps can help your wallet stretch further and also give you great peace of mind for the road ahead.

Now that you have read through this helpful information, make an appointment now with Palo Alto Shell’s Certified Auto Technicians and make sure your vehicle is running in prime condition!

Are Car Tune Ups Necessary in Today’s Vehicles.

Posted on 08, May, 2014

You’ve been told your vehicle needs a tune up. But you may have read that newer cars no longer require a tune up. So what’s the deal? Cars no longer have any of the components left in them that were part of the traditional car tube up. Today’s advanced automobile technology requires meeting emissions standards put in place since at least 1996. And even though a tune up is not the same today as it was yesterday, many mechanics will still refer to a “tune-up” to let you know your vehicle is due for recommended services.

Car Tune Up Palo Alto CA Are Car Tune Ups Necessary in Todays Vehicles.

So, what is a car tune up today?

  • Fuel Injection Systems replaced carburetors—These systems use electronics to measure the fuel added to the intake.
  • Electronic Ignition Systems replaced distributers and points.
  • Coil/plug Ignition Systems replaced high voltage wires. This means that the high voltage is created at the spark plug.
  • Spark Plugs are typically buried underneath the overhead cams which makes them hard to replace. Accordingly, platinum tipped spark plugs which are good for 100,000 miles or longer are used in many cars and trucks.

Thanks to advances in technology, a regular “tune up,” as we remember it, is no longer required. However, it is still important to follow the recommended service intervals for your vehicle. Not only does this honor the vehicle’s warranty, but most importantly, it will ensure that your car performs at optimum efficiency.

However, if you still drive an older model vehicle, a car tune up will generally include the following:

  • Recalibrate the carburetor: The carburetor creates the air and fuel mixture which was then pulled into the cylinders.
  • Reset or replace the points: The points time the spark to ignite the air and fuel mixture.
  • Replace worn out high voltage wires: These wires connect the distributer and points to the individual spark plugs.
  • Replace spark plugs or reset the gap.

Need a professional car tune up service? Contact our ASE Certified Technicians at Palo Alto Shell Auto Repair today by calling us or go on-line at http://www.paloaltoshell.com for more information. Our auto shop serves vehicle owners in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View and the surrounding areas.