Chris Evans teaches us the Difference between Diesel and Petrol.
Not that he particularly meant to as the Radio 2 presenter managed to break down after filling his car with the wrong fuel on the way to work meaning that he had to get a taxi to the studio in the early hours of the morning.
That’s according to a story in the Daily Express by reporter Kirsty McCormack, as the breakfast radio host admitted that it was all his fault and that there was no one else to blame.
"I can't blame it on the car,” said Chris Evans, host and organiser of both CarFest North and South. “I have to blame it on myself. 90 seconds earlier I went to the petrol station, petrol being the operative word. It should have been petrol, but I put in diesel and then an explosion seemed to happen, huge flashes from the bonnet and huge plumes of smoke which you can still see emanating from the Heathrow direction.”
Luckily enough for Chris, he was only three miles from home at a local petrol station, but still ended up in a 30 minute minicab journey dash to get to work – and ‘dash’ would have been the operative word within the laws of the land when it comes to speed!
But Chris need not be too embarrassed as more than 120,000 motorists fill their car with the wrong fuel each year making it necessary for breakdown firms to often include the action on their ‘things we do for you’ lists when you sign up to them. In fact, Green Flag highlighted it in a recent television commercial.
Car manufacturers have taken to putting warnings inside the fuel flap on cars but putting the wrong fuel in the car still happens. Maybe because a driver is driving a different car to that which they are used to; maybe the pumps weren’t marked correctly; or maybe because of a momentary lapse in concentration, putting the wrong fuel in your car is easy to do – and it usually happens at precisely the moment that you don’t want it too!
Quite often you don’t realise what you’ve done until you are driving along and your car starts to lose power. All you can do then is pull in and call a breakdown service.
But if you realise it before you turn the engine on, you could be ‘in luck’ because the action of turning on pulls the fuel into the system and that could damage your engine and cost a lot more money.
And the damage that could be caused is also dependent on whether you have put diesel in a petrol vehicle or petrol in a diesel vehicle. With diesel motors, the fuel pump will normally be lubricated by the diesel to help it run smoothly, but putting petrol in means that the petrol acts as a solvent, removing the lubrication and causing the metal parts to grate against each other. Not so bad putting diesel in a petrol vehicle, but it will still make the engine run badly and smoke a bit, so getting it out will save time, money and hassle.
But not turning the engine on makes the repair man’s (or woman’s) job a lot easier.
If you realise your mistake early on, you might get away with not having to call in the experts.
Normally it is best to drain all of the fuel from your tank when you use the wrong fuel pump, but if you can calculate how much you have put in, and it is less than 10% of the tank capacity, then you should be able to stop and fill the rest of the tank up with the right fuel, and drive away happy in the knowledge that although there may be a little bit of engine discomfort and drop in performance, you have got away with it this time.
But in reality you will most likely have to call in the experts.
Unless you’ve got some sort of mechanical skills knowledge – and I do mean knowledge; not what some bloke in the pub told you to do – you will need to call in the professionals to drain the tank and sort out any other repairs that need doing to the engine. This may mean roadside help or towing you to a garage to do it, but do it they will; a lot quicker than you could and a lot better too!
So if you do do what Chris Evans and one of the estimated 13 UK drivers an hour do and put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, just stay calm, keep the engine switched off and call in the professionals. It’s an easy mistake to make, but just a little embarrassing!