This is a situation that our wrong fuel emergency engineers encounter time and time again. Rarely will a week go by for most of our engineers without them being called out to a case whereby a motorist has just picked up their brand new motor, only to then pop to their local fuel station to fill up with the wrong fuel type.
As mentioned in previous posts, we know this happens because many motorists are swapping from a petrol vehicle to a diesel one after many years of owning and driving various petrol engine vehicles. Modern diesel power-plants are so quiet when compared with older models that it is often necessary to check documentation or fuel flap stickers just to be sure of the required fuel type. Our wrong fuel emergency customers that fit into this bracket, are usually overcome by the excitement of having a new car and taking it for a spin. They are then are not completely focused when they are refuelling and unfortunate mistakes are made.
This type of wrong fuel emergency tends to be a very stressful one for those affected as, after having committed to pay out many thousands of pounds for a new vehicle, they are then faced with the uncertainty of whether their new vehicle warranty will be affected. At this point we are happy to state that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a fuel tank drain and a fuel system flush through with fresh fuel will completely solve the problem and there is no need to fear that your vehicle warranty will be affected.
The problems here only occur with a tiny minority of motorists who have read somewhere that if you put some petrol into a diesel car and you can top up with diesel until the tank contains mostly diesel, then it’s OK to keep driving the car until the petrol has been effectively eliminated from the system by subsequent refuelling top ups. This is most certainly not recommended by the expert fuel drain technicians out there. We believe that motorists need to be better informed about how damaging even a small amount of petrol can be to a diesel engine. Petrol does not have the lubricating qualities of diesel and so the lubrication of moving parts where there is metal to metal contact in the diesel engine fuel system, is compromised and excessive wear will occur leading to future problems. The extent of these problems depends upon the amount of petrol in the system and how long it remains but it is highly likely that at some point the engine will start to exhibit related issues, such as problems starting when warm and stalling at low idle speeds. Petrol is also a solvent and will damage internal seals leading to a requirement for replacement fuel pumps and filters. On many premium vehicles this can be an expensive job.
All we can say is, be careful with your new car and if you’re buying a nearly new car that is a few months old, make sure you test-drive it when the engine is warm. We’ve had a recent rash of cases where motorists have been sold a diesel car that has been filled up with the wrong fuel and then been driven with petrol in the fuel tank resulting in damage to fuel system components and unavoidable expensive repairs. The problem is, it’s very difficult to prove if the petrol has been diluted out of the fuel tank by subsequent fill ups. The related damage is there but no trace of petrol in the diesel tank.
Take care with your new cars folks!