Directions: Healthy Attitudes are Contagious – UnderhoodService

Directions: Healthy Attitudes are Contagious

I t seems wherever you look today in the news, someone is providing automotive service tips to help save drivers fuel. However, it seems that one of the biggest ways vehicle owners are reducing their fuel costs is by driving less.

According to a report in late July from the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles in May compared with a year earlier. The department reported that it has seen the longest decline in vehicular miles traveled since the FHA started collecting this data. In fact, for the first four months of this year, Americans traveled 40.5 billion miles less compared with the same period in 2007.

But even in this downturn of miles driven, repair shop owners and technicians we’ve spoken to say they continue to fill their bays. Some even say their business is growing in the past year. So who are these customers who continue to frequent your shop for preventive maintenance on their vehicle? They may be some of the nation’s healthiest.

A new report shows that vehicle “health” shares the front seat with personal health. Results of the nationwide survey from Shell Oil Company shows that 73% of respondents go out of their way to make sure their cars are in tip-top condition through maintenance, while 68% go out of their way to keep physically fit through regular exercise.

The survey also showed that 40% bring their vehicles in for maintenance at least once every 5,000 miles, and 35% visit a doctor more than once a year.

So this begs the question… Are there links between personal healthcare and vehicle maintenance habits? The people at Shell seem to think there’s a correlation between maintaining proper tire pressure and healthy blood pressure. And, after looking at some of the research, you may, too.

According to Shell, just as prevention is the key to good health, it’s also the key to good auto health. While many understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including stocking up on fruits and veggies (68%), a large number of the population (63%) also go out of the way to make sure their vehicles use top parts and accessories.

Respondents said that they can feel the difference — 76% reported that eating right has a noticeable effect on how they feel, and 73% said they can feel the difference when their vehicle’s engine is clean and responsive.

However, the fuel supplier said while many notice the positive effects of eating right, U.S. drivers often don’t realize the beneficial effects of using high-quality fuels and lubricants for protecting vehicle health.

“Just like choosing nutritional foods at the grocery store is a simple way to be healthy, filling up with high-quality gasoline is an easy change motorists can make to help protect their vehicles,” says Sam Memmolo, ASE-certified technician and Shell spokesperson, Dr. FuelGood. “It’s important to take simple steps to protect the investment in your vehicle.”

The fuel supplier also said the biggest maintenance issue for America’s vehicles, according to 39% of respondents, is the buildup of gunk in engines, which most (60%) described as similar to fat-clogged blood vessels. Dr. FuelGood explained that it doesn’t take a dramatic life change to make a difference — drivers can avoid vehicle health problems through regular maintenance and using a high-quality gasoline.

Underhood Service provides articles to technicians and the repair industry on problems with bad gas and how to service contaminated fuel systems. We’ve also discussed issues pertaining to TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline standards and which companies adhere to them. In fact, our magazine has always stressed to the shop owners and technicians the importance of educating their customers on using quality fuels and other lubricants in their vehicles.

Through its website,, Shell is showing drivers that neglecting one’s personal health can lead to loss of energy and ongoing health issues in the same way neglecting your vehicle health can impact engine performance and lead to long-term maintenance issues.

So in a sense, Shell too is promoting the same message independent shop owners have been dolling out to customers for years — that an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.

Edward Sunkin has been the editor of Underhood Service since April of 1999. He has been a member of the Babcox family of automotive aftermarket publications beginning in December 1994, when he joined the jobber/parts specialist magazine Counterman as an associate editor. Sunkin also spent three years as managing editor Engine Builder, learning about the engine and small parts rebuilding and remanufacturing industry.
Besides Underhood Service, Sunkin also serves as the editor of Tomorrow’s Technician, an automotive-related trade magazine delivered to more than 50,000 students enrolled in NATEF-affiliated schools.


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