Misfuelling – drivers putting the wrong fuel into their vehicles – is a big problem these days. Diesel cars are more popular than ever and modern diesel engines are much more refined than they used to be – so it can be easy to forget you are driving a diesel. Even the UK’s police forces are having problems with misfuelling, with many forces forking out thousands of pounds a year in repair bills as a result.
In case you think it won’t happen to you, it might – more than 50,000 drivers called the RAC for help after misfuelling in 2007 alone…
I’ve specified putting petrol into diesel vehicles as that is what usually happens, not the other way around. The reason for this is that petrol pump nozzles are slightly narrower than diesel nozzles, so they fit easily into a diesel car. Diesel nozzles do not fit so easily into petrol cars and the lack of fit usually alerts drivers to their mistake before they start fuelling.
Naturally, where a problem exists, several enterprising individuals have developed a solution and the market for misfuelling protection devices seems to be booming! Some manufacturers are also now fitting their new cars with fuel filler necks that prevent misfuelling. There are several misfuelling prevention devices on the market, none of which I have tried but all of which seem fairly similar:
All of these are fairly simple devices that replace your car’s standard filler cap. Each device includes some kind of mechanism that will only open if the fuel nozzle is the right size. If it’s too narrow, the filler cap mechanism won’t open, so it won’t be possible to put any fuel into the vehicle.
Most of these devices are aimed solely at preventing drivers putting petrol into diesel vehicles, as diesel misfuelling (putting petrol into a diesel) is the most common misfuelling scenario. These devices usually cost around £30-£40 and are all meant to be very simple and quick to fit.
What To Do If You Misfuel
If the worst happens and you do put the wrong fuel into your car, don’t panic. Follow these steps to minimise the damage:
- Don’t start the engine – don’t even unlock the car if it’s still locked. Some cars have fuel pumps that start moving fuel around before you start the engine.
- If you started the engine before realising your mistake, stop it as soon as possible.
- Call your breakdown service or a specialist misfuelling drainage service – both the AA and the RAC offer this.