Tag Archives | fuel
Don’t run on empty
As a driver, one thing you should always be aware of is how much petrol you have in your tank because running out is dangerous and expensive. If you do run low, a light usually comes on in most vehicles indicating your tank has 10-15 per cent left, so there’s no excuse for entering a motorway with low fuel. If you do run out and get stranded in the middle of the road or motorway lane, you put yourself and other road users at risk, not to mention damage to your vehicle’s fuel pump with repair bills. While running out of fuel itself is not an offence, causing an obstruction with a car that’s out of fuel is an offence under the careless and inconsiderate driving penalty. You could receive a fine and three points on your licence and much more if you’re charged with careless driving. You may also have to pay for the cost of having your vehicle recovered from the roadside as insurers and breakdown providers often won’t cover it. More importantly, insurance companies are unlikely to cover for any incident caused by you running out of fuel. For reference, the AA does not charge members if they run out of fuel and the RAC will also come to help, but you may need to pay depending on your level of breakdown cover. In short, there’s little sympathy for the driver who runs out of fuel as it’s always the driver’s personal responsibility to ensure their car is fit for the road.
Brimming with fuel
Ninety-nine per cent of drivers do this, but brimming your fuel tank to the top is not the best way to fill up. Doing so leaves no room for fuel vapour to expand inside the tank, and can damage your car’s vapour collection system. This consists of a charcoal filter that could be flooded – and damaged – by excess fuel. Moreover, inefficient fuel vapour collection is not good for the environment.
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.
The petrol pump symbol on your car dashboard does more than point to your fuel level, it also indicates which side your petrol cap is on should you forget when driving into a garage. It will sometimes have a small arrow pointing to the left or right, but the fool proof way to tell is by looking at which side the pump handle appears on your symbol. This will be the same side as the fuel cap on the outside of your car. It’s generally best to use petrol from a busy service station, without heavy traffic, petrol is stored for long periods and can degrade over time.
Why winter reduces fuel economy
As if driving in the dark, rain and snow doesn’t make winter motoring hard enough, you may also notice a significant drop in your fuel economy. In cold conditions, you can see a difference of as much as 20 per cent in fuel consumption between warm summer days and cold winter ones.
So why is this? Unfortunately, you can’t change the law of physics as substances become denser as they get colder, and this affects your fuel economy in several ways:
- Cold air is harder to drive through – for every 3 degree C drop in temperature, thicker air density increases drag by one per cent
- Cold tyres are less flexible – the ‘rolling resistance’ on colder days is up to 20 per cent more than on a warm day because it takes more energy for the cold tyre to change shape as you move
- Cold fluids do not flow as easily – everything from your fuel to oil and bearing grease becomes thicker and takes more energy to move
- Cold tyres lose pressure – every 6 degree C drop in temperature will cause a drop in tyre pressure of 1psi, decreasing your fuel economy by 0.4 per cent
Fuel for thought
Bargain-hunting motorists who drive out of their way for cheap fuel to save just one pence per litre are wasting time and money according to a ‘Focus on Fuel’ report by MoneySuperMarket. The new report identifies the ‘tipping point’ at which driving extra miles for discounted fuel means you’re wasting money. It urges drivers to consider adopting the ‘2 for 1 rule’ with two being the maximum number of extra driving miles (round trip) to make it worthwhile to find a one pence per litre saving. The benefit of saving two pence per litre is cancelled out by driving more than four miles. On the flip side, driving just one mile to pay five pence per litre less on fuel will give motorists a saving of £2.29 per litre when filling a 50-litre tank.