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Coronavirus: What precautions should I take if I need to fill up with fuel?

Although travel is currently discouraged, you may still need to fill up your car with fuel at some point. So how do you make sure you’re as safe as possible?

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Current rules mean that the UK population is being asked to stay indoors whenever possible, only venturing out of the front door to buy food or medicine, exercise once per day, to receive medical help, or to help someone who is vulnerable.

All businesses that are not deemed essential have also been asked to close down, and employees who do not work in essential sectors should either work from home or not work at all.

However, if you are a key worker or you need to head out for essential items, then you are going to have to fill your car up with fuel at some point. Here’s how to stay safe when filling up.

Fuel gauge reading empty

Opt for contactless payment

Contactless payment, by its very nature, reduces the amount of contact you need to make when paying for fuel. Many filling stations now offer it, allowing you to simply tap your card to pay for fuel. Of course, this is limited to £30 in most instances. Using Apple Pay or Google Pay from your smartphone is even better, as you are not usually bound by the £30 limit.

Some fuel suppliers – such as Shell and BP – also have their own smartphone app that allows you to pay for fuel, meaning you can reduce your exposure even further.

Use hand sanitiser or cleaning wipes

Though hand sanitiser is hard to come across at the moment, if you do have some then this is the time to make the most of it. Remember to sanitise your hands prior to leaving the vehicle, and use the wipes to clean down the steering wheel and any other touch points too – such as the central armrest and buttons.

Also, it’s best to use hand sanitiser thoroughly after refuelling to reduce the chances of transferring anything from the pump into your car.

Use gloves or paper towels to use fuel pump

It’s best practice to use gloves if they’re supplied at the filling station when putting fuel into your car. If these aren’t available, then make use of the paper towels which should be there and wrap the pump in these.

Once you’re done, we’d advise putting these gloves or paper towels straight into the bin. It’s also a good idea to use an antibacterial wipe to clean areas such as the pump handle itself, and any other places you’ve come into contact with. Again, when you’re finished with the wipes put them straight into the bin.

Fill your car to the brim

Rather than filling up with a certain amount, it’s best at this time to fill your car to the brim. By doing this, it means you don’t have to visit the petrol station as often, therefore reducing your exposure. It also means that if you do need to make a last-minute emergency trip, then your fuel tank is full and you’re all good to go.

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Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.