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The Right Oil for the Right Car

Now before you roll your eyes and start passing off gas as an easy no-brainer, you might want to take note that mixing up fuels is common enough that it happens even to experienced drivers. No kidding!

Mrs. X has been driving for over 30 years. One day she pulled up to the gas station to fill up the tank and as usual, after having swiped her credit card, stuck the nozzle where it was suppose to go until the litres measured up. A couple of days later she found the car smoking like a chimney through the exhaust. Just under a week and the car died en route to the morning market.

What went wrong? The fuel of course. At the petrol station Mrs. X had unwittingly pumped in diesel instead of petrol, thinking that it was unleaded to help the environment. Given that the car was a 12 year old locally made sedan, she ignored the initial signs - like the distinct smell that permeated the car interior. And no, she was not accustomed to being absent-minded but in this case she was careless.

Some simple pointers to save your car a slow death:-

  • Know your gases
    Petrol, short for petroleum and derived from the French petrole, is a volatile flammable mixture of hydrocarbons such as hexane, heptane and octane etc. Whereas Diesel, derived from Petroldiesel, is distilled from crude oil at controlled degrees and contains higher quantities of sulphur.

  • Know your car
    The larger the vehicle, the higher the fuel capacity. Like 4WDs. Generally the higher power it cranks, it'll need diesel - which doesn't require a warming up period or a large water supply and heats energy efficiently.

  • Know your limit
    If on a road trip or renting a mobile, the fuel tank capacity along with the kind of gas your car needs should be labelled (normally a sticker) on the inside of the fuel tank door. Be sure to check.

  • Keep an eye open
    Stay alert. Check station pump systems by reading instructions illustrated on the machines or at the counter. While most petrol stations are standardised, each station has its own system from types of regular fuels to enhanced formulas, nozzles and sticker labels.

If all else fails, then a trip to the mechanic warrants a full day's work of flushing out your car's tank at a maximum cost of RM200.

Mrs. X wasn't that lucky, it took three days and slightly more moolah to change some innards. The car still pipes a smoke now and then. But hey, a car doesn't get to be that old without a few quirks.

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