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There has been a lot of discussion recently as to whether motorists should fill their fuel tanks to the brim or make frequent trips to a petrol station. Some people believe that having less petrol or diesel in a vehicle makes it lighter and therefore more fuel efficient.
However, according to one expert that may not be the case with drivers facing high repair costs.
Dorry Potter, car and scrappage expert for National Scrap Car, claimed that it is “a lot better” to fill up the car when refuelling.
She said: “Although affordability is a huge issue for motorists at the moment, causing many to top up by £10 or £20 here and there as and when they can afford it, it is actually a lot better to fill up your car when you refuel.
“When you are just topping up your fuel by a small amount each time the oil deposits and bad quality stuff which falls to the bottom of the fuel tank gets pumped around the vehicle for a prolonged period.
“This can cause damage to the fuel filter, which can lead to the fuel pump overheating and the engine clogging.
“The latter can be very dangerous as it could cause the engine to cut out while doing higher speeds, potentially leading to a fatal accident.
“At the very best it will land motorists with a hefty repair bill as new fuel pumps start at around £200 minus labour, and this can vary from car to car.”
Ms Potter added that although having a lighter load is a legitimate tip for improving fuel efficiency, the benefits of having a full tank outweigh the difference the weight will make to the fuel usage.
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She continued: “Of course, there is the added risk of breaking down when you run out of fuel too which is more of a risk if you are only adding small amounts each time.
“For an unleaded vehicle this would just need refuelling but for a diesel engine, it could lead to your fuel pump sending air through your fuel system instead of gas.
“If that happens, your vehicle will shut down and not restart until the air is removed – this process is called bleeding, similar to a radiator at home, and although motorists can find ways of doing it themselves, it is probably a job for a mechanic, meaning even more costs.”
Motorists can also save money by avoiding premium fuels, especially for standard cars.
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Retailers often claim that premium fuel offers performance and economy advantages and can even protect the engine.
In reality, unless a motorist is driving a performance vehicle, they are unlikely to see many improvements.
Generally, premium fuels are around 10p more expensive per litre.
Many supermarkets and branded garages will usually have a few different grades of premium fuel for both petrol and diesel.
Motorists are also advised to use the right specification of engine oil to improve efficiency.
Modern engines are built with finer tolerances and therefore require thinner oils – those with lower viscosity – that can also improve fuel economy by around three percent.
Over a 50-mile journey, drivers could save 26p in an average diesel car.
Based on pre-pandemic levels, the average UK mileage was 7,090 miles every year, meaning drivers could save more than £35 just for making a simple switch.
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