What to do if the garage / service station incorrectly fills your vehicle with petrol or diesel…

Today we all lead a very rushed life, and a life based on convenience.
We fly into the service station, run inside to grab some milk and bread while the attendant puts fuel into our vehicle.
Rush out again, grab our Garage Card back, scribble a signature and head for the sanity of home.

There are very few motorists that will disagree with this scenario and with the newer high tech diesel vehicles sounding and looking more and more similar to their petrol counterparts every day, your chances of becoming a victim of incorrect fuelling at the garage is growing all the time.
There are also multiple fuel options on each island at most garages you visit.
You can choose from leaded or unleaded petrol, you can choose from 93 octane or 95 octane petrol, you can also choose from 50 ppm or 500 ppm diesel too.
So it is just a matter of time before your diesel vehicle gets filled with petrol or vice versa.
Incorrect fuel doesn’t sound like a big issue, fuel is fuel and maybe you think your vehicle will simply splutter a bit and then all will be okay, but you would be horribly wrong!
Hopefully you realise the mistake before leaving the filling station.

If you do, don’t drive the vehicle, get assistance and remove the fuel in the easiest and most convenient way possible.
You should re-fuel with the correct fuel and we suggest that if you can, fill the tank to minimise the effect of the left over dilution.
Should you choose to ignore the problem or drive to another workshop type facility, this could cost as much as R10000 per minute of driving to repair the damage you would have done to your vehicle’s engine.
If you did not realise the mistake before you left the filling station and have now found your vehicle to be running very rough or perhaps it has even become un-driveable, either get the vehicle towed to a garage or repair shop as soon as possible or if you have to, drive it there.
You should tell them exactly what happened, how far you have drove like this, how much fuel was in the tank and how much wrong fuel you added etc.
And they can take it from there and advise you on the way forward.

The bottom line is, check the filling process before it starts, don’t become one of many who took it for granted that the pump attendant put in the right fuel – diesel or petrol.
For those of you who want to know a bit more why the damage can be sudden and substantial, read more…
The combustion processes of diesel and petrol differ substantially and catastrophic consequential damage starts to take place as soon as normal driving takes place.
Old and new level diesel vehicles have many components in the engine that rely on diesel for lubrication.
On the older diesels the diesel pump self destructs within a few minutes following injector nozzle failure and ultimately all the components thereafter start to fail.
Similarly the new level vehicles with common rail technology have lift pumps and unit injectors that will seize and self destruct shortly after the car has been started.
Simply put, petrol has no lubricating qualities and any component that relies on diesel for lubrication will eventually fail.

A petrol vehicle that is filled with diesel on the other hand suffers from a completely different set of consequences.
Here it is mainly detonation that can break pistons as a result of the extra incombustible volume in the combustion chamber that cannot burn efficiently.
There are obviously many other consequences on petrol vehicles but this topic will then become far too technical and will end up confusing most people.
All we ask at SAC is that you take the time to check that your vehicle is being filled with the correct petrol or diesel.