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Simple Vehicle Check Helps Avoid A Road Trip Breakdown!

Posted on 22, November, 2013

A simple vehicle inspection before a family vacation can help avoid the short fuses, inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down many miles away from home, says the Car Care Council.

A quick vehicle check can give motorists peace of mind and save them from the hassle of a roadside breakdown. In just 10 minutes, drivers can make sure their car is ready for travel and then take steps to have any problems fixed before heading out for vacation.

Right in their own driveway, motorists can identify how road-ready their vehicle with this quick inspection. If repairs or maintenance are needed, call Palo Alto Shell for an appointment.

Check all fluids, including engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, windshield washer solvent and power steering, brake and transmission fluids.

Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and inspect and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

Is Your Check Engine Light On? Don’t Ignore it.

Posted on 15, November, 2013

One of the most vital signals of an improperly functioning vehicle is the check engine light and when illuminated, it alerts the driver to a variety of existing potential problems.

When the check engine light comes on, it means that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally. A glowing check engine light doesn’t mean you have to immediately pull the car to the side of the road, but it does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible. Ignoring the warning light could result in costly repairs. At the very least, the light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy.

Some common malfunctions that can cause the check engine light to illuminate include a faulty oxygen sensor, mass air flow sensor, or spark plugs and wires. If the light flashes, the condition is more critical and must be checked immediately to prevent severe damage, which may include catalytic converter damage.

When scheduling service, make sure the automotive shop that examines your vehicle has professional technicians who are trained and certified in OBDII diagnosis and repair. The technician will connect your vehicle’s computer system to a diagnostic scan tool, which will provide trouble codes indicating why the check engine light was activated.

While the diagnostic tool is connected, the technician can analyze data streams such as the idle speed, throttle response, engine temperature, fuel system pressure, manifold vacuum, exhaust emission levels and many other key indicators. Once the problem is fixed, the car’s computer is reset to initiate the computer’s release process. The technician should then advise the customer of the proper course of action, potential warranty coverage, further testing if necessary and recommended repairs.

What’s That Smell?

Posted on 07, November, 2013

We all love that “new car smell”! However as time goes on other smells can pop up, and they can be signs of serious and possibly costly problems Being able to identify these smells can help you act quickly and get your vehicle repaired before serious damage is caused.

1. The smell of burnt rubber could be slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys. Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.

2. The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement or smoke coming from the engine area.

3. The smell of gasoline is likely the sign of a gas leak in some area of the vehicle such as a fuel injector line or the fuel tank. Any smell of fuel can result in a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.

4. The sweet smell of syrup may be a sign that your car is leaking engine coolant from a leaky component related to the car’s cooling system. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot.

5. The smell of burning carpet could be a sign of brake trouble and a safety hazard. Have your brakes checked right away, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.

6. The smell of rotten eggs is never a good one and, if you smell it coming from your vehicle, it could mean a problem with your catalytic converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.

If you smell any of these six odors call the experts at Palo Alto Shell and get your vehicle checked out!

4 Tips for Safe Halloween Driving

Posted on 31, October, 2013

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.

October is Car Care Month!

Posted on 22, October, 2013

October is Fall Car Care Month. Why not take a little time to be car care aware and make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead? Let Palo Alto Shell show you a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later.

1. Battery - Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

2. Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades - Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Fall is also a great time to check your air filters. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. When changing the blades, be sure to also check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.

3. Tires - Check the tires, including the tire pressure and tread depth. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.

4. Brakes - Have the brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

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