Two Amateur Motorist Mistakes That Can Lead To Expensive Repairs

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As a new car owner, you are probably concerned about proper maintenance for your car to keep it in pristine condition for as long as possible. Unfortunately, it's not just the major service schedules that should worry you; some "small" issues can lead to expensive problems. Here are two prime examples:

Using the Wrong Fuel

When you fill up your car with the wrong fuel, the best thing to do is not to start the engine. That way the bad fuel will only be confined to the tank. Starting the engine circulates the bad fuel through different parts of the engine, which increases the risk of severe damage.

If you forget and turn the ignition, then you are looking at various damages including these four:

  • Accelerated wear of metallic parts of the engine – This happens when you put petrol in a diesel car. The petrol acts as a solvent and reduces lubrication. This is bad for diesel engines since they are designed to operate within specific tolerances. Further damage occurs when metal from the increased friction circulates to other parts of the engine, such as the fuel pump.
  • Damaged fuel system seals –   Diesel and petrol cars use different materials for fuel seals. Using the wrong fuel may damage these seals since they may not be able to deal with the chemicals in the wrong fuel.

If you start the engine and it gets damaged, be prepared to have a total fuel system cleanup and engine components' repair. The repair costs can run into several thousands of dollars.

Here are some of the measures to help you avoid this mistake:

  • When fueling at unfamiliar stations, confirm the hose you are using is for the right fuel type; don't assume that the color codes used are the same as those of your regular stations.
  • Be careful when you are driving a new car, such as a friend's car or a hired car; it is easy to assume that it uses the same fuel as your normal car.
  • Try to schedule your refueling stops so you don't fuel when in a hurry; it's easy to make a mistake if you are in a hurry.
  • Make it a habit to double check and ensure you are using the right fuel if you have multiple cars that use different fuels.

Letting the Oil Run Low

An engine cannot run efficiently for long without adequate oil. No or low engine oil leads to extreme engine wear. The primary cause of the damage is the increased friction that comes when the metallic parts of the engine start to grind against each other.

Apart from the accelerated wear, the increased friction also leads to overheating. Even the absence of oil itself can lead to overheating because, in addition to lubrication, another function of the oil is to carry away the heat generated by the engine.

To make matters worse, many drivers don't notice any symptoms for low engine oil until it is too late and damage is inevitable. This is especially likely in an older car that doesn't have engine sensors and dashboard tools for diagnosing low oil.

The best preventive measures for low-oil damage include:

  • Routine oil changing as indicated in the owner's manual of your car; dirty oil has the same effect as low oil.
  • Regular oil filter changing to allow efficient flow of oil.
  • Plugging oil leaks.
  • Using the dipstick to check the level of oil available manually; this is especially useful for old cars.

Talk to a service like White Pass Garage for more help.