Wrong Fuel in Your Car? South Africa's Quick Tips

Motorists in South Africa can be grateful for petrol pump attendants who typically refill our cars with fuel. It’s uncommon for petrol attendants to put the wrong petrol in your car, but mistakes can happen. It remains the responsibility of the motorist to remain vigilant and aware while the petrol attendant carries out their duties.

“Most petrol attendants excel in their service, but mistakes are always a possibility. As a motorist, be cautious, and double check the fuel type to ensure a trouble-free refuelling experience,” advises Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions.

If the wrong type of fuel is put in your car, there are steps you can take to minimise the damage and the cost. “First and foremost, don’t panic. It’s an easy mistake to make and there are solutions. Secondly, do not start your engine because this could lead to severe damage. You don’t want the wrong fuel to circulate through your engine.”

Push your car to a safe location within the petrol station if possible. Call the Automobile Association (AA) on 0861 000 234 for assistance. Alternatively, your Service Plan provider, your insurer or your tracker might offer Roadside Assistance. Contact your provider, and they will send a team to assess the situation. “It’s important to have a professional handle the situation, to avoid costly mistakes,” Smit says. “All Service Plans, Maintenance Plans and Extended Warranties through MotorHappy come with free roadside assistance.”

Your mechanic will drain the vehicle’s tank and clean the fuel system to prevent damage to your engine. The fuel filter will also have to be replaced, ensuring that any remnants of the incorrect fuel are removed from the system.

“Once the tank has been emptied and the fuel filter is replaced, fill the tank with the correct fuel, start the car and let it run for a few minutes. Listen for any unusual noises or engine misfires. If you notice anything unusual, let your mechanic check the car immediately.”

To prevent this mistake from happening, always pay attention when refuelling your vehicle, even if a petrol attendant is doing it. Smit says it’s also a good idea to label the fuel cap with a sticker indicating the correct type of fuel.

“Putting the wrong fuel in your car is an inconvenient mistake, but it’s manageable. Follow the steps outlined above and seek professional assistance to minimise the damage. Remember to stay vigilant and take preventative measures to avoid this mishap in the future. Your car and your wallet will thank you!” concludes Smit.