It may look like an ordinary AA van with a poteen still in the back, but the latest addition to the AA Rescue fleet is in fact it is a fantastic piece of kit which completely resolves what used to be just about the worst thing you could do to a car short of crashing it: putting in the wrong fuel and starting the engine.
Particularly when a petrol engine is contaminated with diesel it can cause major damage. The old process for repair meant stripping down the entire fuel system and washing it with petrol, in many cases replacing parts like fuel pumps. This is a very labour intensive and expensive job and could only be carried out in a garage.
If you have not started the engine or there is no damage to the fuel pump & other parts, that garage repair job is likely to cost €400 to €500. If replacement parts are needed you could well be talking thousands. In extreme cases the car might require a whole new engine.
The AA can now demonstrate a fantastic piece of technology which can completely repair the car on the spot and can do so within an hour. The AA can now completely drain the fuel system, wash it clean and refuel it correctly so that the car can drive away.
The AA now offers the service at a cost of €260 or €236 for anyone who is already an AA member.
AA Fuel Assist technicians have received 4-5 weeks extensive training and are qualified in disposal of waste. They are trained to AA standards which have now been adopted to become the Health & Safety standards guidelines in the UK.
What to do if you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car
You’re not alone. The AA gets over 800 calls per year from drivers who have put the wrong fuel in their car. Nationally it is estimated that it happens about 5,000 times per year.
And the scale of the problem has been getting bigger too, especially over the last five years with growth in diesel car sales – modern diesels are so quiet it’s easy to forget you’re driving one, particularly if it’s a second family car or hire car.
If you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car, don’t turn on the ignition or start the engine as this will circulate the contaminated fuel and increase the risk of damage.
Contact AA Fuel Assist at 1890 456226. Its specialist service will:
· drain, flush and replenish your vehicle’s fuel system
· ensure the contaminated fuel is recycled through a waste management company
It aims to attend any vehicle, providing the Fuel Assist van has enough capacity in its tank.
Diesel fuel pumps operate on very fine tolerances and are lubricated by the diesel fuel itself. Petrol in diesel acts as a solvent – it reduces lubrication and can cause damage to the pump through metal to metal contact. Some fuel system seals can be affected by the compounds in petrol too.
The further the contaminated petrol goes in the system the more expensive the repair – it can be cheaper in more extreme cases to fit a new engine.
The newer common rail (or HDi) diesel engines are particularly vulnerable – if fuel contaminated by pump wear debris gets as far as the common rail system you may have to replace the low and high-pressure fuel pumps, injectors, fuel rail, line filters and the fuel tank too.
Many systems use a low-pressure electric pump in the tank or sender unit and this begins to work as soon as the ignition is switched on, circulating the contaminated fuel through the pump and rail – so it’s important not to turn the ignition on.
Petrol in Diesel
Do not turn on the ignition or start the car
If the car’s still under warranty you should check with the franchised dealer regarding their advice and correct remedial action – running with even a small amount of petrol in the tank might invalidate the warranty while some manufacturers advise that seals and filters should be renewed even if the engine has not been run.
Generally a small amount of incorrect fuel should not damage the engine as long as you have not started the car and top up fully with diesel fuel.
- If you’ve added more than 10% (5 litres in a 50 litre tank) petrol – Drain the tank and refill with diesel
- If you’ve added less than 10% petrol (5 litres in a 50 litre tank) – Top up with diesel and run normally unless the manufacturer has advised otherwise
Diesel in Petrol
Do not turn on the ignition or start the car
This is much less common because the standard diesel nozzle at fuel stations is larger than the fuel filler neck on modern petrol cars – you have to be pretty determined and patient to misfuel with diesel as a result.
If the car’s still under warranty you should check with the franchised dealer regarding their advice and correct remedial action.
Generally a small amount of incorrect fuel should not damage the engine as long as you have not started the car top up fully with petrol.
- If you’ve added more than 10% (5 litres in a 50 litre tank) diesel – the car shouldn’t be run and the tank should be drained
- If you’ve added less than 10% (5 litres in a 50 litre tank) diesel – the tank can be topped up with petrol and the car run normally unless the manufacturer has advised otherwise