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CAREFREE CAR CARE:
Simple Tips for Keeping Your Car Running Smoothly

Importance of Vehicle Maintenance

Between shuttling the kids to and from soccer practice, driving to work and running errands, Americans spend a lot of time behind the wheels of their cars. And the last thing anyone wants to deal with is car trouble, in addition to the time and inconvenience that goes along with it.

While most drivers don’t mind getting dirty every now and then, the thought of lifting the hood of the car to replace engine oil or jump start a battery is not a pleasing one. But the truth is that regular car maintenance can prevent unwanted car trouble, and it doesn’t always have to be a major hassle.

In fact, routine car maintenance is an important factor in keeping your car performing well, while also helping to prevent surprise car repairs. However, according to a consumer survey commissioned by the Car Care Council’s Women’s Board, only about 35 percent of women regularly have routine maintenance performed on their vehicles.

“It’s important for women to remember that routine car care doesn’t necessarily mean getting elbow-deep in engine oil or sitting for long hours in a waiting room at the service garage,” says Courtney Caldwell, editor-in-chief of ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine. “Simply being conscious of how your car is performing and understanding some basic warning signs can make a big difference and help prevent unnecessary and potentially dangerous breakdowns.”

To help women keep their vehicles running smoothly, Shell, in conjunction with ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine, has developed the following tips for easy car maintenance that will help you feel more in control and give you peace of mind when is comes to your vehicle.

· Check it Out. Just as you check the lint trap in your dryer, it’s also important to check your car periodically. Changing your oil is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the health and fitness of your vehicle. It’s also important to check other fluids, such as brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and coolant, on a regular basis. Your car’s owner’s manual will show you where these are located and how to check them. In addition, examine the engine for dirt and grime – an engine runs hotter and may overheat if it is dirty. Also, look at the top and sides of your battery to ensure it is free of dirt and corrosion as a dirty battery can drain electricity and eventually may end up failing. You’ll also want to check engine belts for cracks that could cause them to break. And finally, don’t forget to check the tires – including the spare – at least once a month for proper inflation and tread wear. If you’d prefer, take your vehicle to an automotive service center, such as a Jiffy Lube, and have their qualified technicians perform the necessary maintenance.

· Keep the Engine Clean — As we’ve all learned from the knock-off designer purses that start fading or coming apart after a few weeks, generic brands aren’t always better. The same is true when it comes to purchasing gasoline for your car. Contrary to what many people believe, all gasolines are not the same. Many fuels available today contain only enough cleaning agents to meet minimum government standards, which may not be enough to keep vehicle engines free of harmful carbon deposits. These deposits can cause less efficient mixing of fuel and air and just as a recipe will work at its best when ingredients are measured precisely, an engine will work at its best when it draws precise quantities of fuel and air. To keep a car’s engine clean, fill up with a high-quality fuel, such as Shell V-Power. The new fuel has more than five times the minimum amount of cleaning agents required by government standards, and with regular use, it can clean up deposits left by low-detergency gasolines and keep critical engine parts — specifically intake valves and fuel injectors — clean.

· Crank Up the Heat — Turning up the car’s heater in July may sound crazier than shopping for bathing suits in December. But even during the summer months, turning on the heater in your car at least once a month for one to two minutes is an easy way to help maintain the heating system. Doing so lets the fluid in the car circulate. This helps to keep the core of the heater clean, which can prevent corrosion and the need to replace the heating system or its parts come wintertime. Do the same for your car’s air conditioning system during the winter months. It will have the same effect.

· Spot the Trends — Polka dots may have been in fashion at one time, but they’ve never been in vogue for garage floors. If you realize your car is leaving random oily spots in your garage, the car may have an engine oil or automotive fluid leak that requires repair. If you aren’t sure if your car is leaking fluids, you can find out easily by putting a newspaper on the ground where you normally park the car. If in the morning you find spots or stains where there once were news headlines, you may have a fluid leak and should take your car to a certified mechanic to be inspected.

· Be Suspicious of Smells — Just as you can tell when something is burning in the oven, you can tell when something doesn’t smell right in your car. When your car smells funny, it may be letting you know that something needs attention. For example, if your car smells like it’s burning rubber, you may be riding the brakes, or driving with one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator. In the long run, this can cause damage to the brakes and the brake lining, which can also wear out the tires. You can maintain your brakes, as well as your brake lining and the tires, if you avoid riding the brake. In addition, if you smell a sweet, steamy odor after the vehicle is fully warmed up, you may have a leak in the coolant system, which ultimately can cause the engine to overheat. In this case, be sure to take your car to an automotive service center to have the car inspected for engine fluid leaks.

· Keep the Engine Clean — As we’ve all learned from the knock-off designer purses that start fading or coming apart after a few weeks, generic brands aren’t always better. The same is true when it comes to purchasing gasoline for your car. Contrary to what many people believe, all gasolines are not the same. Many fuels available today contain only enough cleaning agents to meet minimum government standards, which may not be enough to keep vehicle engines free of harmful carbon deposits. These deposits can cause less efficient mixing of fuel and air and just as a recipe will work at its best when ingredients are measured precisely, an engine will work at its best when it draws precise quantities of fuel and air. To keep a car’s engine clean, fill up with a high-quality fuel, such as Shell V-Power. The new fuel has more than five times the minimum amount of cleaning agents required by government standards, and with regular use, it can clean up deposits left by low-detergency gasolines and keep critical engine parts — specifically intake valves and fuel injectors — clean.

· Crank Up the Heat — Turning up the car’s heater in July may sound crazier than shopping for bathing suits in December. But even during the summer months, turning on the heater in your car at least once a month for one to two minutes is an easy way to help maintain the heating system. Doing so lets the fluid in the car circulate. This helps to keep the core of the heater clean, which can prevent corrosion and the need to replace the heating system or its parts come wintertime. Do the same for your car’s air conditioning system during the winter months. It will have the same effect.

· Spot the Trends — Polka dots may have been in fashion at one time, but they’ve never been in vogue for garage floors. If you realize your car is leaving random oily spots in your garage, the car may have an engine oil or automotive fluid leak that requires repair. If you aren’t sure if your car is leaking fluids, you can find out easily by putting a newspaper on the ground where you normally park the car. If in the morning you find spots or stains where there once were news headlines, you may have a fluid leak and should take your car to a certified mechanic to be inspected.

· Be Suspicious of Smells — Just as you can tell when something is burning in the oven, you can tell when something doesn’t smell right in your car. When your car smells funny, it may be letting you know that something needs attention. For example, if your car smells like it’s burning rubber, you may be riding the brakes, or driving with one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator. In the long run, this can cause damage to the brakes and the brake lining, which can also wear out the tires. You can maintain your brakes, as well as your brake lining and the tires, if you avoid riding the brake. In addition, if you smell a sweet, steamy odor after the vehicle is fully warmed up, you may have a leak in the coolant system, which ultimately can cause the engine to overheat. In this case, be sure to take your car to an automotive service center to have the car inspected for engine fluid leaks.

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