Around 300,000 drivers make the mistake of filling up with the wrong fuel at the pumps, according to trade body, the Association of British Insurers.
Putting the error right costs anywhere from £500 to £3,000, says motoring firm Halfords. Towing costs and call-out charges can be added to that as well.
Most of the drivers making the mistake own newer cars that they have changed to for fuel economy – and mostly involve putting petrol in to diesels.
Confused drivers from two car families where one runs on petrol and the other diesel are also to blame, says Halfords.
Filling up with the wrong fuel is expensive to put right –
- The tank and fuel system have to be drained of the wrong fuel
- Fuel filters need replacing or cleaning
- Severe cases need replacement diesel pumps or other work to fix the engine
The firm’s advice to drivers is not to start the engine or drive off the forecourt if the tank is filled with the wrong fuel. Switching the engine on will circulate the fuel and lead to more damage – and could void warranties or insurance that would otherwise pay for the repairs as the driver has not taken action to limit the damage.
Paul McClenaghan from Halfords said: “We know how distressing and disruptive misfuelling can be for motorists but we were unaware of how widespread and costly the problem was until we saw this research. We reckon a driver fills up with the wrong fuel once every 1 minute 45 seconds.
“Putting petrol in diesel vehicles is unfortunately easily done as the unleaded nozzle on the pump fits into the filler neck of the diesel vehicle without any problems. It only takes a momentary distraction or lapse in concentration and the consequences are often costly. The diesel nozzle has a larger diameter so it is more difficult to do the other way around- although some people have managed it”
One solution suggested by the firm is a special diesel tank cap that only allows filling with diesel, which costs around £20.
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