Tag Archives | diesel

Ready for the forecourt?

petrol pump arrow indicates side of carOne of the first things you’ll need to do as a new driver is fill up your car with petrol or diesel, unless it’s an electric model. Don’t leave this procedure until you’re on the petrol station forecourt to experiment. Instead, check first which side of your car the fuel cap is on because you’ll need to choose the right pump to match up with it. If you forget, look at the pump icon on your dashboard as it will indicate the side your fuel cap is on. Next, check you can open your fuel cap as this varies from car to car and may involve a key or lever. The first time you drive into a petrol station, be aware that you may have to wait for people to move before you can access the pump that matches the side your petrol cap is on. Pull up beside the pump, about half a metre out and with the nose of your car lining up with the end of the pump, this will avoid stretching the pump hose awkwardly. Put your handbrake on, gear into neutral and engine off. Get out taking your keys and money with you, and go to your fuel cap. Open the cap and take a second to focus on which fuel you need, the wrong fuel is an expensive mistake. Diesel is usually labelled in black and petrol in green and marked unleaded.

Next, grab the handle of the fuel dispensing nozzle and lift it upwards, then outwards. This will unhook the nozzle from the pump. Move to your fuel filler inlet and put the nozzle in, then squeeze the handle and fuel will start to flow and the pump will make a filling noise. Keep an eye on the pump’s screen, which tells you how much fuel you’re putting in and the cost. When you reach the amount you want, stop squeezing. Slowly pull out the nozzle and return it to the pump. Now replace your fuel cap and check it’s firmly screwed back on and the covering panel is shut, always check you have done this. If the pump has a card machine and you chose this option you pay before filling up, otherwise you’ll need to note your pump number and head for the cash desk. It may sound obvious but always check you can pay before you fill up. Get back in your car, look for pedestrians and other cars, then pull away slowly. After the first few times, filling up becomes second nature.

Fuel mix-up

More than 150,000 motorists put petrol in their diesel cars by mistake every year, so you’re not alone if this happens to you. Nor is it an expensive mistake, providing you immediately take the right action. Remove your keys from the ignition and do not attempt to start your car. Petrol acts as a solvent, weakening the lubricating effects of diesel and turning on your ignition will start the fuel pump causing damage. Simply put your car in neutral and ask for help to push it away from the petrol pumps to a safe place. Call your breakdown service to take you to a garage to have your fuel tank pumped out. Alternatively, call the AA Fuel Assist team on 0800 072 7420, they will drain the wrong fuel and fill your car with the right one on the spot – and you don’t have to be a member.

Fortunately, putting diesel in a petrol car is less likely as the nozzle on a diesel pump is bigger than the one for petrol, making it almost impossible to put into your car’s filler neck. However, if you do manage to put diesel in your petrol car, the advice is the same. To avoid mishaps, focus when you pull into a petrol station: don’t rely on the colour of the hose or nozzle before filling up. Properly read the pump’s trigger label and fuel grade indicator.

Winter wise

Before you make a cold start in sub-zero temperatures, leave the ignition on for approximately five seconds, before activating the starter motor. This will allow fuel pumps time to pressurise and the car’s electrical system will have the chance to complete any diagnostics check first, saving the battery the extra stress of performing these tasks while it has to churn the engine over.

If you cover mostly short journeys, it’s also possible that your engine never gets the chance to warm up fully during winter. If your average journey is only a few miles, take your car for an extended drive at least once a fortnight, at speeds over 45mph, assuming the conditions are safe enough to do so. This will give the battery more chance to recharge and, if fitted, will allow the particulate filter to regenerate on diesel cars.