Car Auction Buyers – Beware of Wrong Fuel Symptoms

Here’s an interesting situation. We recently attended a wrong fuel incident at a client’s home after he had become suspicious that a car he bought at auction may have had the wrong fuel put into it. The vehicle in question was a 4 year old diesel Ford Mondeo which had been picked up for a bargain price at the auction where it was sold as “in full working order”. Our client did have an opportunity to inspect the vehicle before the auction and even started the car, which it did quite happily. He picked the car up after putting in the winning bid and then drove it twenty miles to his home, without incident. The trip had given the car an opportunity to warm up and when our client came back out to the car a short while later to run an errand, he noticed that the car had trouble starting. He had a look under the bonnet and checked for something obvious but noticed nothing especially unusual. Once he had got the car running again, he took the car on a short run and was certain that the car engine was getting more noisy under acceleration than when he had driven it back from the auction. He also noticed that the exhaust was smokey although this was nothing too unusual for a diesel car that has not been driven for a while.

Over the next few days these symptoms started to worsen and our client took his vehicle to a friend who was a knowledgeable mechanic. After scratching his head for a while over the problem, the mechanic drew the conclusion that the car had had the wrong fuel put into it and it had been driven with the wrong fuel, namely petrol, mixed into the diesel. This was the only obvious answer that he could come up with as the symptoms closely matched those of a car that he had dealt with a short while ago. In order to obtain more definitive proof that this was indeed the case, the mechanic, as a favour to his friend, inspected the injectors and found that they had an unusual amount of swarf in them. These tiny metal particles in the fuel are a result of a reduction in lubrication of the fuel system components, caused by the petrol diluting the lubrication properties of diesel.

Armed with this evidence, our client called us for our advice. We recommended that in the first instance, he should speak to the auction house and ask for his money back. As of the 1st of October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act says that you can reject a second hand car and get a full refund within 30 days of the purchase if the car is deemed to be unfit for purpose or not as described. The car did not have a high mileage and would not normally have been expected to display any of the symptoms described, and so our client was able to get his money back.

If you have bought a second hand car from an auction or from a dealer and you feel that the car may be displaying the above symptoms or something similar, please speak to one of our experts for advice. We deal with wrong fuel problems day in and day out and our experts are more than just familiar with what happens to a car which has been running with the wrong fuel in the tank, mixed in with the right fuel. Don’t ignore a potential problem until it’s too late.

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