Monthly Archives: August 2011
I have noticed some insurance companies are now offering to cover the cost of repair of a misfuelling. Swiftcover have a very sensible policy clause and offer to pay 250 towards the cost of a fuel drain, but do not accept claims for damage resulting from misfuelling, – (misfuelling doesnt cause damage), i’ve got to give them credit for this becuase they are providing insurance cover for the problem but not leaving themselves open to a lowlife main dealer trying to scoop thousands on an uneccasery “engine rebuild”.
We have done thousands of fuel drains, and I have yet to meet someone who did it on purpose, in my opinon anyone who has fully comp should be coverd for a fuel drain, the companies that class it as “deliberate damage” have lost touch with the spirit of insurance an accidental misfuelling is no different from an accidental crash, any decent insurance company should offer to cover the cost of a fuel drain, and in fact I have had many of my customers recoup the cost of a fuel drain from their insurance companies.
We have a number of large national insurance companies who call us on behalf of their clients who are stranded at petrol stations or at home with a car full of the wrong fuel and I am very impressed by how some of them really go the extra mile to help the customer,
If you have put the wrong fuel in your car check to see if it is coverd on insurance, and if you have already paid for a fuel drain you still might be able to claim it back.
We provide detailed reciepts and technical reports for all of our clients and will happily provide information to your insurance company if you will be reimbursed.
Nearly everyone reading this has either just misfuelled, or a bored fuelman but its worth checking the smallprint if it every happens again.
Hope that helps
As a rule of thumb the averidge fuel drain is 40 litres, over the course of a week that’s a lot of wrong fuel.
To carry misfuel there is no special licences required as long as no more than 330 litres is carried in a vehicle, if you carry more than that an ADR licence is needed
Storing mixed fuel is regulated by the environment agency, it must be kept safe, secure and have protection against leaks from ruptured storage tanks, (double and triple bunding)
There are a number of uses for mixed fuel, I have listed some of the more common ones:
1) Use in space heaters for a large garage as done by an un-named gentelmen in the west country (I suspect it will not end well)
2) mixing with bio-diesel to “thin” it up – only done in small quantity
3) re refining, this is done by 2 oil refineries in the uk who take 28.000 litre tanker loads, the process is simply to put it through the oil refinery again and split it back into a diesel and petrol, duty does not need paid on this but then problem is getting rid of it after it is refined because most petrol stations are tied in to exclusive supply contracts with the major oil companies
4) use in specialist military vehicles: rolls royce made an engine for tanks that can run on petrol or diesel, or a mix of both. It’s noise smelly and very loud, there are offroad ‘drive a tank for a day’ type sites that buy it
5) Cleaning engine parts, mixed fuel has good cleaning properties that work well with oils, it is used by garages and mechanics to clean brakes and engine parts
6) Burning stuff, mixed fuel sometimes brings out the inner pyro, and some people just can’t pass up the opportunity to torch a bit of wasteland
The AA get their fuel recycled back into petrol and diesel and the going rate is between 30 and 40p per litre for contaminated fuel, but with everything volume is the key. Handling mixed fuel in low quantities is expensive, and many garages go out of their way to not have to touch the stuff.
With diesel now at £1.40 per litre I expect the recycling will take a boost
Most people assume that the AA and RAC offer a free fuel draining service to their members, unfortunately this is not the case.
Both the AA and RAC charge for fuel drains, the price varies but is about £220, the AA will tow you home for free with a fuel drain if you have the home recovery service.
Standard AA patrol vans do not carry fuel draining equipment, the fuel drains are done by a specialist AA division called, AA Fuel Assist, this is managed autonomously within the AA network.
AA fuel assist carry out mobile fuel drains on location and being part of the AA they are very good at it, The RAC are fairly new to the fuel draining business and are just dipping their toes into it.
Neither the AA or RAC offer a full blown national coveridge, the work is often passed on to independent fuel draining companies, or local garages, in remote areas they offer very little in the way of service.
I have heard from a number of other fuel draining companies and they all are noticing less work coming from both the AA and RAC which would suggest that their own vans are starting to cover more work.
The good news for the motorists is the more people are doing it, the cheaper it gets and the response times will be faster, hopefully the main dealers will start also recommending fuel drains instead of un-needed major engine rebuilds.
If you do decide to use the AA or RAC here’s a little tip that should save you some money, if you refuse the first price they quote they will offer a discount to get the work, this however doesn’t work for us smaller independent fuel draining companies becuase we done have millions in the bank set aside in the “wipe out the competition account”.
The AA will often tow you home from the petrol station, and then have another van come and do the fuel drain at your house at a scheduled time and day.
Here’s some advice if you need to do a DIY fuel drain to remove wrong fuel
If your car has an electric fuel tank pump, then there is a way to do a fuel drain yourself,
You need, containers (enough for all the fuel you have in the tank) 2 metre length of hose, and depending on type of car, some basic tools,
It is advisable if you also clean fuel (20 litres) to hand.
This works on most bmw, mercedes, citroen, peugeot, vw, audi, fords – if your diesel car makes a gentle buzzing noise for a few seconds when you put the key in the lights on position (the buzzing is the electric fuel pump priming the system) then this will most likely work.
This method is very hard on the cars battery and if it is not in good condition may flatten it, keep jump leads handy and another donor car, or be at the top of a hill
The skill level required to do this would take someone that is mechanically minded, and is aware of the safety precautions required when working with petrol and diesel.
1) Find the fuel line coming from the tank to the engine, you need to flow line to the engine, not the return line to the tank
2) disconnect the flow line and attach a hose to it, (you will need to get blue peter about it unless you have full garage facilities at your disposal)
3) put the other end of the line into a container
4) turn the key, not to starting position, just to pump priming position, this will activate the fueltank pump for 5 to 10 seconds which will send about a cupfull of fuel through the hoseline, then the pump will switch of again
5) keep repeating the same thing, turn the ignition off, then back to accessory position for 5 seconds, you might have to do this 200 times or more, it takes ages to drain a full tank.
6) once the tank is empty you will start getting foamy white fuel out, this is air that has entered the system from the empty tank
7) now pour in the clean fuel to the tank
8) repeat the key turning process again and again untill approximately 2 litres have gone thru, this purges the wrong fuel and fills the filter and lines with clean fuel
9) re-connect the fuel system and start the car
once the car starts you should fill it again to the top with clean fuel.
Petrol is highly flammable and this should be done in an area that is safe to do it,
We attend many BMW’s that have been misfueld, mostly 5 series, the 5 series has a complicated fuel tank set up, in that it uses a “saddle bag” design, which is the tank hangs over the propshaft, which makes it 2 tanks joined by a pipe at the top, and elaborate pumping system to keep the levels equal, this dual fuel tank system with pumps to distribute fuel evenly was pioneered by concorde in the 60′s, because the engines burned fuel so fast, gravity alone would not keep fuel tanks equalised , bmw, audi, landrover, mercedes are among the cars that are using it, the reason is to cram awkward shape fuel tanks around prop shafts, exhausts, etc
Draining the fuel from a BMW involves more than emptying the tank with a suction kit, there will still be half the fuel left in the other side of the tank, to get to this you either have to bypass the cars internal “brain” and turn on the transfer pump, or you have to lift out the backseat and access both parts of the tank from above.
BMW’s sometimes signal a fault code after a misfuelling, this is normal and is the engine management computer is simply saying “engine dont work” which you already know by the time it comes on. this is not usually an indicator that something has gone terribly wrong, nor has it detected wrong fuel as the cause of the problem, once the car has been drained and filled with the right fuel and restarted, the engine management light will go out.
No permanent harm is caused by a brief misfuelling, so don’t get taken for a ride by a dealer who suggests a multi thousand pound engine and fuel pump rebuild, its just a scam that is peculiar to the UK, BMW main dealers in Germany simply recommend a fuel drain and wouldn’t dare try and pull the new engine/fuel pump trick that our dealers have been doing.
Call us if you need help with wrong fuel, a fuel drain, or advice on how to do one.