The three rules to remember while refuelling

By Wade O'Leary on 11 November 2015
Pumping fuel into a petrol station

The NRMA's analysis of running a car with low fuel levels for better economy exposed the futility but also the danger of the practice and proved popular with Members.

But motorists who are vigilant with their refuelling can suffer mechanical problems, mostly through no fault of their own.

BMA Auto proprietor Bob Whyms says there are three golden rules to remember when refuelling your car:

Keep your receipts

“It’s generally a good idea to keep the receipts because water in the tank is one of the most common problems we see,” he said.

“When we discover this, we tell our clients they should go back to their supplier to tell them and be able to claim the damage on insurance.

“But if you can’t prove it came from a particular place, you have to pay for the damage yourself.”

Don’t go into a forecourt if there’s a tanker there

And it’s not because of the vehicle itself.

“Just about every servo has water at the bottom of their underground tanks but oil and by-products like petrol are lighter than water and sit on top of it, and theoretically the pumps only pick up at above that level,” Bob said.

“But when a tanker is refilling the storage tanks, it stirs up that water and it can be drawn in by the pump while a motorist is refuelling.”

Never put petrol into a diesel-powered vehicle then try to drive it

It’s just about impossible to put diesel in a petrol-powered car because of the larger nozzle size but it’s an easier mistake to make the other way around – and the consequences are actually worse.

“If you realise what you’ve done, don’t even try to start the car – just turning on the electrical system can draw fuel into the system," Bob said.

“Get it towed and you can get it flushed but it if you run it, everything will fail because petrol has no lubricant.

“Diesel engines rely on the lubricating properties of the fuel and the damage done with petrol is fast and severe – and the bill can run to $25,000.

“Some insurance companies are now not paying out claims over wrong fuel use, saying it’s due to negligence instead of an accident, and I think that trend will spread.”

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