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What to do after putting the wrong fuel in your car

Putting the wrong fuel in your car can have a detrimental effect on the engine and on the off chance that it happens, you will need to take corrective actions sooner rather than later.

While there are modern cars that make it impossible to put a petrol pump nozzle into a diesel car, and vice versa, most older autos on South Africa’s roads do not have these precautionary functions.

It’s therefore important to know which steps to take after you, or the station attendant, accidentally fill up the tank with the wrong type of fuel.

An honest mistake

Everyone makes mistakes and should you be fortunate enough to realise before starting the engine that your petrol car was inadvertently refilled with diesel, it’s best to refrain from firing it up until the tank and fuel system have been bled and refilled with the correct propellant.

Keep the key out of the ignition, flip the car into neutral, and push it to a safe spot out of harm’s way. Then inform the petrol station about what happened, and call your insurer who will be able to get a professional to come and help you or to tow the vehicle away to get emptied.

If you are not insured for whatever reason, you’ll have to contact the professional yourself.

What if I’ve already started the car?

If you are already on your merry way with the wrong fuel in the tank, it generally won’t be long until the car comes to a halt next to the road.┬áThis should be treated like any other breakdown.

Again, notify your insurer who will organise roadside assistance to come and pick you up and take the vehicle to an expert in the matter.

If you still have roadside assistance included in your car’s after-sales agreements, you can call the manufacturer for help, too.

Regardless of who you contact, it’s imperative that the engine does not start again until the correct fuel is in the pipes.


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