Some 150,000 UK drivers put the wrong fuel in their car during 2017, according to website Scrap Car Comparison. It’s all too easy to choose the wrong pump and it can cost between £500 and £3,000 to fix a car if you run the engine – yet surprisingly, only half of owners try to claim the cost back on their insurance.
A spokesperson for scrapcarcomparison.co.uk says: “Complacency is one of the biggest reasons that can cause this huge problem. Re-fuelling is one of those mundane tasks we do every week, and most of us do it without thinking. Many people make the mistake without even realising until it’s too late. If in doubt, stop and think.”
If the tank isn’t drained and cleaned immediately after making the careless error, you could be looking at thousands of pounds worth of damage. Even if you’re unlocking your car you can start circulating the wrong fuel through the system.
A spokesperson continued: “Many families have two cars these days so it’s easy to make a silly mistake without thinking. Taking a second to think could save you hundreds of pounds!
“If you drive a diesel car and are worried you may one day make a mistake, you can buy a device that fits into your filler neck to prevent you from using the wrong fuel.”
IF YOU PUT THE WRONG FUEL IN, ARE YOU COVERED?
The short answer is maybe, it depends on your policy T&Cs. Some motor insurers class this as accidental damage so if you have Fully Comp cover then you can claim, although it may affect your No Claims Discount of course. If the cost to repair the engine and clean the system is below £500 then it’s cheaper NOT to claim and keep your NCD.
Some modern, hi-tech diesels may suffer serious damage and in the worst case scenario you could damage the engine so badly that the fuel delivery and exhaust gas recycling pipework, plus filters and valves all needs to be replaced. In that case, you could be looking at a bill in excess of £2500, so claiming may well be your only option.
IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST – EVEN THE POLICE
A Freedom of Information request has revealed Britain’s police force made a staggering 540 refuelling mishaps in the past three years – a tax payer bill of £120,000.
25 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to the request meaning the actual total is likely to be much higher.
The Met Police alone has been forced to shell out almost £50,000 since 2015 after the force used the wrong pumps 157 times in three years.
The other counties whose police don’t know their leaded from their diesel include the West Midlands who have filled up with the wrong fuel 88 times in the past three years, with police in Staffs making a mistake 32 times, Derbyshire 29 times and West Mercia 23 times.
Top tips to avoid putting the wrong fuel in vehicles include:
· Always check the car you are in. Many families have two cars or even a hired or company car
· Take a second to think and concentrate at the pump, which is also a hazardous place, often featuring a slippery floor if fuel has been spilt.
· Do not rely on the colour of the hose or nozzle and always read the pump label on the pump handle
· If you make a mistake, do not switch your engine on – seek help immediately from a reliable source