Wrong Fuel Emergencies Caused By Bad Advice

wrong fuel bad adviceAlthough 150,000 people every year, put the wrong fuel into their vehicles in the UK alone, the wrong fuel emergency industry is still one that very few people have a good level of knowledge about. In fact, unless you’ve been personally affected or know someone who has, very few people even know that a mobile fuel drain exists. Unfortunately, this means that those affected are often misled by others who claim to have a little knowledge or they may read something about what to do if you’ve put in the wrong fuel, on the internet. Our engineers are often dealing with customers who have taken bad advice from someone who appears to have a little knowledge of the situation and sometimes from those in the auto industry who should know better. At this time of year, there is one piece of bad advice that seems to do the rounds more than usual and that is as follows:

“Diesel can turn a little sludgy in really cold weather, so if you’re having trouble starting your diesel vehicle or it’s running rough, add some petrol to it to loosen it up a bit”

If you’re contemplating doing this with your diesel vehicle, Stop right there! This is actually terrible advice even though it might sound logical to some. It makes more sense to keep your diesel vehicle fuel tank topped up as full as you can or to try and park it in a garage or a sheltered location. Once the vehicle has warmed up, it should run fine so try allowing yourself some time to do that. Let the vehicle engine run for a short while before you go anywhere.

Why shouldn’t you add a little petrol to diesel fuel?

As we have covered several times in similar articles, petrol is a solvent and does not have the lubricating properties of diesel. Petrol vehicle and diesel vehicle engines have very different fuel systems which work in very different ways. The diesel vehicle fuel system relies upon the lubrication of the diesel passing through it to ensure that there is no friction where metal parts come into contact which each other. If you add petrol to the diesel fuel then this will indeed “loosen it up a bit”, unfortunately this means that the lubrication of the diesel vehicle fuel system is compromised and you start to get a friction build up between metal parts which can cause damage to them. This may result in the requirement to change fuel system parts such as filters and pumps, but there is also another far more serious consequence. The friction between moving metal parts can result in tiny metal particles, called swarf, getting into the diesel fuel as it passes through the fuel system as the metal parts begin to disintegrate. If this swarf makes it as far as the fuel injectors, then you may be in serious trouble. Blocked injectors are very difficult to remedy and if the injector is damaged then it will need to be replaced. Very often, this is an extremely expensive job, especially if you drive a premium vehicle such as a BMW or Mercedes. Even a regular family saloon would be an expensive fix.

One of our engineers recently came across a situation where the customer’s vehicle was running badly and they were requesting advice. He turned up at the customer’s home to take a look at the vehicle and learned that the vehicle had been running with a little petrol in it’s diesel tank for a while because the customer had been advised by a friends that this makes them run better! In this case the diesel injectors were damaged and one was completely blocked and beyond salvage. The vehicle was a BMW X5. The repair bill was frightening!

Always consult a wrong fuel expert before following any dubious advice that you see on the internet. Even if it comes from a trusted friend, our experts have many years of experience in this field and will usually have better advice for you.

Be safe!

Wrong Fuel Winter Blues

wrong fuel emergency at nightWell, it looks like it’s finally well and truly upon us. Judging by the thick layer of ice to be scraped off the car this morning, winter has arrived with a vengeance and with it comes the wrong fuel winter blues. As the weather gets colder and wetter, more and more people are putting their push bikes and motorbikes into winter storage and hanging up their walking shoes in favour of getting into a nice warm car in the morning and driving to work. The roads are always more congested when the weather is bad and patience is in short supply. At Wrong Fuel UK we always see a spike in the number of cases we deal with during the winter months. It is, without doubt, due to the shorter days and dark nights combined with increased amounts of traffic on the road. Even though all motorists ought to be considering adding 10 minutes onto the UK average 41 minute commute, life isn’t always that easy and so we find ourselves in a constant hurry which leads to distraction at the fuel pumps and a lot of petrol going into diesel cars.

As we are obviously an outdoor business, Wrong Fuel UK engineers need to be constantly aware of the weather as it can very much affect our response times. As we have already established, the traffic is heavier and slower if it’s raining and road surfaces are more dangerous requiring much more thought and care when driving on them, especially with a mobile wrong fuel unit laden with heavy equipment and potentially carrying a large amount of hazardous contaminated fuel on board. We are also very much aware that customers do not like to be kept waiting and so we have to be honest and realistic with our estimated time of arrival at a wrong fuel emergency job.

The dangers related to wrong fuel emergencies are also more prevalent during the darker winter days. The majority of cases occur during either the morning when people are on their way into work, or in the evening when they are on their way home. During the winter, the chances are that both your morning and evening commute will be in the dark so if you should be unfortunate enough to accidentally fill up with the wrong fuel, then you may end up stranded on the road in darkness, adding to the hazardous nature of your predicament. Our advice in these circumstances is always to make your vehicle situation as obvious as possible by immediately switching on your hazard warning lights so that other motorists know that they need to pass you safely, or if they’re so inclined, to offer you some help in moving your vehicle to a safer position if possible. The very worst winter wrong fuel emergencies occur when motorists fill up with petrol instead of diesel at the motorway service station. Many of these motorists manage to make it down the ramp and into the first lane before their vehicle stalls. Some are lucky and can limp onto the hard shoulder, but others are not so lucky and get stranded in the slow lane becoming a major hazard to other traffic. As previously mentioned, if this happens to you and it’s dark, make sure that you put your hazard warning lights on to warn other traffic that they will need to take action to avoid your car. Whether your vehicle is blocking the slow lane or is stranded on the hard shoulder, you should exit your vehicle on the safe side, away from the traffic and wait for our wrong fuel engineer in a safe place away from the road. We always prioritise this type of case as we recognise the dangers involved and so our engineer will be with you quickly to provide a fast solution.

Be careful if you’re commuting in the dark and if you should be unlucky enough to put in the wrong fuel, you know we’re here to assist.

Wrong Fuel Emergency – Saving The Day, Again

Wrong Fuel EmergencyFor most of our customers, their wrong fuel emergency couldn’t have happened at a worse time, whether they are on their way to work, to pick up the kids or heading off on holiday. There’s always some kind of negative impact to having put the wrong fuel in a car but there are degrees of seriousness which help us to prioritise cases. We prioritise where a customer’s car has stalled in a dangerous place on the road, if the motorist is vulnerable, such as a lone female who is stranded at night in a bad part of town, or in special circumstances where the customer desperately needs to be somewhere as a matter of urgency. One scenario that some of our engineers have experienced more than once, is the wedding dash. The following case study relays one of these incidents:

Back in August of this year we received a call from Dan Chambers who was best man at the wedding of his childhood friend, Spencer Granger. Dan had been taking the groom for a drive in a BMW 735 diesel that they had hired for the wedding, to calm his nerves before taking him on to the church. Whilst they were out, Dan decided to stop and fill up with fuel in Hollywood near Birmingham, as he had offered to take the bride and groom on a long trip to Gatwick airport the next day to send them off on their honeymoon. Dan’s daily run around was a 2 litre petrol engine VW Passat and such was his level of stress and anxiety as he was anticipating carrying out his duties for his friend’s big day, that he picked up the unleaded petrol nozzle and proceeded to fill the diesel engine BMW with petrol. A full tank of it! He and the groom didn’t realise what had happened until Dan had paid for the fuel and had then returned to the car only to discover that the engine wouldn’t start. It then dawned on both of them what had just occurred. Dan went into meltdown and wanted to call the hire company to see if they would bring a replacement car and get the BMW towed away. He was willing to foot any repair bill that they came up with just to save the day. Spencer was a little calmer, surprisingly, and he did an internet search which flagged up Wrong Fuel Emergency to him as a company who may be able to help. At this point, Spencer had to be at the church in 50 minutes time and so Dan called us up and explained the situation. As luck would have it, due to our extensive network of wrong fuel engineers, we had a technician in the vicinity who had literally just finished dealing with another customer just 5 miles away. We got in touch with our guy and rerouted him to Dan and Spencer’s location. It took just 10 minutes for him to reach Dan and Spencer as the traffic was kind, our engineer then proceeded to drain the BMW fuel tank of the mixed, contaminated fuel so that he could flush the fuel system with fresh diesel and re-fill the tank for the lads. After resetting the engine ECU following its traumatic ordeal, Dan and Spencer could get on their way and we’re happy to report that they were bang on time for the wedding.

Thankfully, this situation was resolved with a simple fuel drain, but if it hadn’t have been for Spencer’s moment of calm thought, things could have gone seriously awry. The BMW was a hire car and we have heard no end of terrible tales whereby a motorist has put petrol into a diesel hire car and has then asked the hire company to sort the problem out, thinking that the whole thing would be covered by the insurance. The fact is that in most cases, the insurance does not cover wrong fuel incidents. The hire company’s vehicle warranty then usually requires extensive fuel system component replacement or at the very worst, replacement of the engine. AS you might imagine, replacing the engine in a new BMW 735 diesel would have been incredibly expensive and would certainly have put a huge dent in Dan’s finances. We’re pretty sure this would have resulted in a damper for Spencer’s big day too. As we have mentioned several dozen times previously in our blog posts, in the vast majority of cases a simple, low cost fuel drain and fuel system flush with ECU reset will completely solve the wrong fuel problem. It isn’t a quick fix or a sticking plaster, it’s a total fix. Provided all traces of petrol are removed from the vehicle fuel system there is no risk of damage occurring to the engine and no risk of problems developing with the vehicle at a later date. However, the job must be done thoroughly and professionally, as it always will be when one of our wrong fuel experts is involved.

We have many other similar tales whereby one of our engineers has heroically saved face for the best man, groom or wedding car driver, so if you ever find yourself in such a situation or indeed any other type of wrong fuel incident, call Wrong Fuel Emergency for the ultimate, fast solution.