What to do if you put wrong fuel

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

IF you’ve ac­ci­dently put the wrong fuel in your car, don’t turn on the ig­ni­tion or start the en­gine. This will cir­cu­late the con­tam­i­nated fuel and in­crease the risk of ex­pen­sive dam­age.

You wouldn’t be alone as many driv­ers put the wrong fuel in their car ev­ery year. It could be a re­sult of be­ing new to the ve­hi­cle or sim­ply be­ing dis­tracted while fill­ing up.

Mis­fu­elling’ seems to be as­so­ci­ated par­tic­u­larly with the growth in diesel car sales. Mod­ern diesels are so quiet it’s easy to for­get you’re driv­ing one, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a sec­ond fam­ily car or hire car. Po­ten­tial dam­age

Diesel fuel pumps op­er­ate on very fine tol­er­ances and at very high pres­sures – mod­ern sys­tems run at be­tween 350 and 1600 bar) – and are lu­bri­cated by the fuel. Petrol in diesel acts as a sol­vent, re­duc­ing lu­bri­ca­tion, and can cause dam­age to the pump through me­tal to me­tal con­tact.

Me­tal par­ti­cles from the dam­aged pump can be de­posited in the fuel caus­ing fur­ther dam­age to the rest of the fuel sys­tem.

Some fuel sys­tem seals can be af­fected by the com­pounds in petrol too.

The fur­ther the con­tam­i­nated fuel goes in the sys­tem the more ex­pen­sive the re­pair. In some cases it can be cheaper to fit a new en­gine!

Com­mon rail (or HDI) diesel en­gines are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble – if fuel con­tam­i­nated by pump wear de­bris gets as far as the com­mon rail sys­tem you may have to re­place the low and high-pres­sure fuel pumps, in­jec­tors, fuel rail, line fil­ters and the fuel tank.

Ga­so­line Di­rect In­jec­tion (GDI) petrol en­gines are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age too.

Many cars have a low-pres­sure elec­tric pump in the tank which starts to work as soon as the ig­ni­tion is switched on, cir­cu­lat­ing con­tam­i­nated fuel through the pump and rail, so it’s im­por­tant not to turn the ig­ni­tion on. Petrol in diesel Don’t turn on the ig­ni­tion or start the car In line with car man­u­fac­tur­ers’ rec­om­men­da­tions, AA (south Africa) ad­vices that any diesel fuel con­tam­i­nated with petrol should be re­moved from the tank and re­placed with clean fuel be­fore the ig­ni­tion is turned on and the car started. Diesel in petrol Don’t turn on the ig­ni­tion or start the car This is less com­mon be­cause the stan­dard diesel noz­zle is big­ger than the filler neck on mod­ern petrol cars. In line with car man­u­fac­tur­ers’ rec­om­men­da­tions, AA ad­vice is that any petrol con­tam­i­nated with diesel should be re­moved from the tank and re­placed with clean fuel be­fore the ig­ni­tion is turned on and the car started. Re­duce the risk

No one mis­fu­els de­lib­er­ately and no one ex­pects it to hap­pen to them, but around 150,000 mo­torists put the wrong fuel in their ve­hi­cle ev­ery year in SA.

Mis­fu­elling mostly in­volves petrol in diesel as the petrol noz­zle is the smaller of the two, but a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of driv­ers still man­age to mis­fuel by putting diesel in petrol, even though the noz­zle is con­sid­er­ably larger than the filler neck! This sug­gests a high level of dis­trac­tion and/or strong vis­ual cues con­vinc­ing the driver that they’re dis­pens­ing the cor­rect fuel.

Al­ways dou­ble check the fuel grade in­di­ca­tor on the pump be­fore fill­ing. The risk of mis­fu­elling is higher if: you use an un­fa­mil­iar fill­ing sta­tion - don’t as­sume hose colours are the same as your ‘lo­cal’ site you switch be­tween brands us­ing dif­fer­ent hose/noz­zle colours you swap cars (us­ing dif­fer­ent fuel) at home or work - it’s easy to ‘for­get’ which car you’re fill­ing you hire a car us­ing dif­fer­ent fuel to your nor­mal car you buy a new car us­ing dif­fer­ent fuel to your old car you con­tinue a con­ver­sa­tion with pas­sen­gers while fill­ing up you are in a hurry/run­ning late If you’re con­cerned about the risk of mis­fu­elling you can buy de­vices to fit into the (diesel) filler neck to pre­vent you in­sert­ing the nar­rower petrol noz­zle. — theaa.com

Poor male driver.

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