Until recently, I hadn’t really heard much of the phenomenon of misfuelling – otherwise known as putting the wrong fuel in the car. However, in recent days I have been told of not one but two acquaintances who managed to be unfortunate enough as to do just that.
In the first case my friend, realised his mistake at the pump and managed to stop putting petrol into his diesel car, AND crucially he knew not to start the engine. The second case of a friend of a friend was not so straightforward and unfortunately her expensive car was driven quite a way before she realised her error and this resulted in some severe damage to the car’s fuel system.
I guess it never occurred to me that this was something I too may one day be affected by. I was certainly surprised to learn that there are an estimated 150,000 cases of people putting the wrong fuel in the car each year in the UK alone. That’s one misfuelling every three and a half minutes! I started to think that maybe one day I too may be caught out at the pump. Although I drive a petrol car, and always have done, I imagine that if I ever had to drive a diesel for any reason in the future that I may well to become a victim of force of habit and absent-mindedly pick up the petrol pump instead of the unfamiliar diesel pump.
It would certainly be an easy thing to do logistically. Petrol nozzles fit easily into the larger necks of diesel fuel tanks and indeed 95% of misfuelling involves petrol being put into diesel cars. Tired commuters on their way home and the rise in numbers of diesel cars on the road are thought to explain somewhat the high numbers of this kind of mishap.
An expensive mishap too. Putting the wrong fuel in the car is rarely covered by standard insurance policies and, at its worst, damage can cost up to 12,000 pounds to fix. However, the average price of repairing this costly mistake is 7,000 pounds. If the car isn’t started (and not even activating the remote locking) then it may be possible to call one of the increasing number of companies which offer a fuel draining service. For a more modest cost of about 300 pounds on average they will come out to your car, drain the fuel, dispose of it safely and give you a top-up with the correct fuel. If you are lucky, this will solve the problem and get you motoring happily again.
So, putting the wrong fuel in the car may be something we all should bear in mind when at the pumps as it seems to be catching ever increasing numbers of us out. Don’t let this costly mistake happen to you!