AA Fuel Assist

For drivers who fill up with wrong fuel

7 November 2007

Drivers pouring up to £750 million down drain, says AA

The number of motorists who put the wrong fuel in their car has doubled over the last ten years, according to the AA, which today launches the UK's first national service to help those who make that 'fuelish' mistake.

AA fuel assist vehicle and technician AA Fuel Assist is a specialist roadside service that drains, flushes and replenishes vehicle fuel systems on the spot, saving the customer both time, money and inconvenience.

It is estimated that at least 150,000 drivers misfuel each year – one every three and a half minutes – generating around 7.5 million litres of contaminated fuel or the equivalent of three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The AA is investing around £1.7 million in AA Fuel Assist which not only retrieves the contaminated fuel but ensures that it is recycled through a waste management company with the end product being used to power cement kilns and furnaces for example.

Donald MacSporran, AA Technical Performance Manager, explains that the scale of the problem has been getting significantly bigger, especially over the last five years: "We have seen a significant growth in diesel car sales and modern diesels are so quiet that people sometimes forget they're driving one. You also have an increasing number of people owning more than one car, so it's only too easy to absent-mindedly put the wrong fuel in.

AA fuel assist vehicle and technician "We continually look at innovative solutions for problems that we traditionally can't fix at the roadside, in order to help get our members on the way quicker. We came up with this unique service that gets 99 per cent of vehicles back on the road after the 45-minute fuel drain. We save them the hassle of having to wait for a garage to book them in and, potentially, up to £5,000 in repair bills."

Donald continues: "If someone realises they have misfuelled, they should ideally not start the engine and call us for advice. Depending on the level of contamination, our technical team will advise over the phone if the vehicle can be safely driven but, in most cases, a fuel drain will be required. Although people always feel embarrassed, 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."

The Fuel Assist Service

  • Available to both AA members and the general public
  • Will attend any vehicle providing the Fuel Assist van has enough capacity in its tank – cars, vans, lorries, motorcycles etc.
  • Fresh fuel to refill the tank is charged at pump price
  • An appointment system is in place
  • Bookings and enquiries number for AA Fuel Assist is 0870 240 3985 (opening hours 7.30am till 7pm)
  • Technicians arrive within an hour, on average
  • The AA is investing around £1.7 million in the service
  • The service was trialled for a year
  • Fuel AssistSM is a registered Service Mark.
  • Get latest product information »


  • 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 per cent of them are people putting petrol into diesel vehicles due to the wider diesel filler neck and narrower unleaded nozzle
  • Growing problem over last five years due to the high sales of diesel cars, improved and refined diesel engine technology and the rise of multi-car ownership
  • 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.

Fuel Assist Technicians

  • 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)
  • Intensive six-week induction including Health & Safety and environmental training
  • Each technician does an average of five jobs per day.

Fuel Assist Vehicles

  • Mixture of LDV Maxus and Mitsubishi L200 vehicles in silver livery with high-visibility AA livery on rear and AA branding on bonnet
  • Coloured silver to avoid being mistaken as AA roadside patrol vehicles
  • The Fuel Assist vehicles have a 330-litre tank capacity enabling technicians to undertake approximately seven fuel drains before emptying tank.

AA fuel assist vehiclepurpose-built equipment in an AA fuel assist vehicle


29 June 2010