Wrong Fuel!

Rising diesel ownership increases wrong fuel risk

13 October 2010

AA Fuel Assist has recycled 3.6 million litres of fuel

AA recycles enough contaminated fuel to 'drive' to moon and back 58 times

More than 150,000 drivers put the wrong fuel in their vehicles each year, according to the AA. The numbers are likely to increase as new diesel cars now outsell petrol models* and 95% of misfuelling cases involve putting petrol into a diesel car.

aa fuel assist technicians are certified and equipped to work on garage forecourts Mistakes can cost up to £5,000 and also carry an environmental cost, which the AA's Fuel Assist service is helping to address.

AA Fuel Assist, has now recycled 3.6 million litres of contaminated fuel since it was launched in November 2007 and has been expanded to 60 technicians across the country.

The technicians are highly trained specialists equipped with the most advanced and safe mobile fuel retrieval system on the market, meeting strict Health & Safety and environmental regulations.


Donald MacSporran, the AA's Head of Technical Performance and Training, says: "Unlike many other providers, AA Fuel Assist technicians are certified and equipped to work on garage forecourts, so we come out to you and do the fuel drain on the spot.

AA fuel assist technicians are highly trained specialists "Not only does this save you time and money but you can rest assured that we operate to the strictest environmental regulations – our unique sealed system pumps out the fuel directly from the fuel line, ensuring no vapour loss, and all the contaminated fuel is recycled."

This year alone, the AA expects to recycle around 1.5 million litres of fuel, which is eventually refined back into petrol and diesel for its original purpose.

Think before you fill

Donald continues: "With diesel car sales now at record levels, it unfortunately means that more people are likely to misfuel, as they switch from petrol car ownership to diesel. Diesels are now so quiet and refined that it's easy to forget you're driving one.

"If you do put the wrong fuel in, ideally don't start the engine and call us for advice. Although it's embarrassing and inconvenient, we try to lessen the pain by offering a speedy, cost-effective solution for the customer, as well as minimising the impact on the environment."

Misfuelling problem

There are an estimated 150,000 misfuels in the UK each year including the 60,000 that the AA attend – three times the number of people who call the AA after running out of fuel (20,000).

  • 95% of them are people putting petrol into diesel vehicles due to the wider diesel filler neck and narrower unleaded nozzle
  • Growing problem over last few years due to the high sales of diesel cars, improved and refined diesel engine technology and the rise of multi-car ownership
  • More men than women misfuel
  • One AA Fuel Assist 'regular' has used the service three times so far
  • Largely a UK problem – continental Europe has had a higher penetration of diesel cars for longer, so it's not as big an issue
  • Can be very expensive for some vehicle owners: manufacturers often recommend change of parts (as high as £5,000) and garages often charge £300+ for a fuel drain
  • Find out more about the damage misfuelling can cause »

AA Fuel Assist Technicians

  • 60 dedicated, trained specialists – only do fuel drains, not general breakdowns
  • Hold ADR Class 3 for the transportation of flammable liquids
  • Hold SPA Forecourt Passport (certified to work on garage forecourts)
  • Operate within a rigorous 'Safe System of Work' that is constantly reviewed by trained experts in this field
  • Intensive six-week induction including Health & Safety and environmental training
  • Each technician does an average of five jobs per day

Swimming in fuel

AA Fuel Assist has now recycled 3.6 million litres of contaminated fuel – close to 800,000 gallons or around one and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools – which would drive the average family car (35mpg) 27.72 million miles, equivalent to the moon and back 58 times or 1,113 times round the equator. Buying this amount of fuel at the pump would cost more than £4 million.

Join the discussion in the AA zone

*According to SMMT new car registration data for August 2010


13 October 2010