Is driving in neutral okay or bad?

I own a Honda stream absolute 2003 which is still in a good state and I only use fuel from Total or Shell FuelSave. I service it at Total station but I would like to know which is better. I would like to know when should one shift to neutral when driving? What are the aantages and disaantages?
Moses Bogere

At Vivo Energy Shell we only talk about our lubricant and fuel products and you are the best judge after using our product offering. What I can tell you though are the specific needs of your Honda engine and how the Shell products meet them. The Honda Stream Absolute 2003 comes with the sensitive DOHC (Double Overhead Camshaft) valve train which uses the Honda VTEC (Variable Timing and Lift Electronic control). This valve train system is similar to Toyota’s VVTi and uses multiple camshaft lobe profiles to improve low RPM (engine Revolutions Per Minute) fuel economy and better performance.

The Honda DOHC VTEC system in your engine is sensitive to oil sludge formation, sheer damage and oxidation of the engine fast moving valve train components. These maintenance challenges can be avoided if you use Shell Helix HX5 or the fully synthetic Helix Ultra petrol engine oils which are blended with chemical additives which prevent the above conditions by controlling sludge (holding it in suspension untill the next service) and preventing deposit build as well as sheer damage or oxidation of hot metallic components.

The intake valves in your Honda engine valve train are sensitive to fuel after burn deposit build up. These deposits or ‘gunk’ are spongy and tend to waste fuel while damaging the valves and affecting engine performance. Shell Fuel Save Unleaded and Shell V-Power petrol fuels are designed with detergent and lubricant chemicals which keep your engine intake valves clean as well as lubricate the upper piston ring to reduce energy loss.

There are situations when you need to disengage the transmission by selecting the neutral position on your transmission. This is best done when the car is stationary or moving at low speeds not exceeding 5 kmhour. When stationary and idling in a traffic jam you may select neutral to reduce the engine revolutions and fuel consumption. When you want to shift from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive or shifting from high to low range on slippery terrain. Driving your car in neutral gear is called coasting. I do not see any aantages worth writing about.

Whereas coasting downhill may save a little fuel in the final analysis it wastes fuel and endangers the driver and other road users therefore negating the little fuel saving you may anticipate. When you coast downhill your engine remains in idle so it consumes some fuel to keep the engine running. When coasting, it is easy to race the engine forgeting that you are in neutral gear or you have to accelerate when you re engage the drive gear both actions will inaertently cause a sudden increase of your fuel consumption rendering your fuel saving efforts worthless.

Driving in neutral gear limits your ability to manoeuvre, accelerate or get additional engine brake assistance in case you need to avoid a sudden road hazard. It is possible to forget you’re in neutral and slide the shifter stick into parking mode which could damage your transmission.

I have been following your aice on your page. I have a Mercedes Benz C200. Every morning taking off has become a problem. I can press the accelerator and the speed doesn’t pick up. Then all of a sudden it starts shooting. After driving for some time the problem goes off. What could be the cause, is it the morning cold? Please aise.
L. Omara.

Your Mercedes Benz may have a problem with the cold start enrichment. In order for an engine to start and run while cold it needs a little more fuel than when it is hot. This condition called ‘the cold start enrichment’ is when the car engine needs a higher ratio of fuel to air.

In your Mercedes Benz the engine computer (ECM) relies on the engine coolant temperature sensor (ECT) and the mass air flow sensor (MAF) to determine when the engine is cold and needs enrichment to run well. When the ECT thermistor (temperature sensor) fails due to corrosion or age it sends wrong values which prevent the computer from initiating a cold start enrichment.

Likewise, the MAF helps the ECM to determine when the intake air is cold or warm. This information is used to regulate cold start enrichment. The MAF may fail due to age, a dirty air cleaner or leaking vacuum line between the MAF and throttle potentiometer. A computer diagnosis and a good technician can help you determine which component has failed. It is also important to have your engine well-tuned and the service of fuel filter, air filter and spark plugs up to date.

I drive a Toyota Corolla model AE110 with a 1.5 litre engine. I have noticed lately that when the service bay technician checks the oil level on the engine dipstick while the engine is running the engine oil emerges out of the engine through the dipstick chamber. The service bay technician thinks this is odd and recommends that I get a mechanic to check the engine. What could be the cause of this problem and how can we resolve this?
Isabirye, Jinja.

Confirm that you did not overfill the engine at the last service or during an intermediate oil top up. Engine oil level should be checked when the vehicle is parked on a level surface with engine switched off. A mechanic may need to check or replace the Positive Crank case Ventilator valve (PCV) if it is not working properly. The PCV helps to regulate airflow in the engine and vents the engine to prevent excess pressure build up. The PCV also removes moisture from the engine oil preventing contamination. If the PCV clogs with sludge it will cause excessive internal engine pressure, damage of oil seals, oil leaks and further sludge buildup. You ought to maintain your Toyota with good quality engine oil which has additives that control and prevent oil contamination due to oxidation and sludge build up.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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