How to avoid fuel problems

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:14th February 2023

It’s an unfortunate fact of life for motorists that there are many things that can go wrong with your car, which is why it’s important to keep up with servicing and maintenance so your vehicle is always in good health.

A lot of the time, problems you encounter with your car will be out of your control and the best you can do is get them fixed.

However, there are plenty of issues – some of which are among the most common causes of breakdown – that can be easily avoided, such as running out of fuel, or putting the wrong fuel in your car. Here are some steps you can take to stop these things happening to you:

Running out of fuel

One of the best precautions you can take to reduce your risk of running out of fuel is not to place all your faith in your car’s display. Some modern cars give a reading of how much further you can drive before the tank is empty, but this isn’t always accurate.

Generally speaking, it’s better to be overly cautious and fill up before the red light illuminates on the fuel gauge or you get a warning message.

If you’re planning a long journey, do some advance preparation and fill up the day before so you don’t have to worry about it on the day.


Misfuelling – putting petrol in a diesel vehicle or vice versa – is an easy mistake to make (especially if you’ve recently bought a new car that takes different fuel to your last one), and a common cause of breakdowns.

To avoid this problem, some people put a ‘petrol’ or ‘diesel’ label on their fuel cap as a reminder every time they fill up. It’s also worth remembering that diesel fuel nozzles are larger than petrol ones, so it’s harder to misfuel a petrol vehicle than a diesel.

If you do use the wrong fuel, don’t start the engine – try to push your car off the forecourt and get it seen by a mechanic, who should be able to flush the fuel out of the system. Starting the car and driving any distance after misfuelling can cause mechanical damage.

You can address any concerns you have about your car and check that it’s in good condition with MyService.Expert from Fuel Card Services, which offers benefits including typical savings of 30% on parts and labour.