AA Business Services says the number of company car drivers mistakenly choosing the wrong fuel has increased to 44,000 in 2005 compared with 43,000 in 2003. It is the third biggest ‘self-induced’ reason for calling out roadside assistance behind flat batteries caused by leaving lights on and locking keys inside the vehicle.
Roger Williams, head of major fleets and leasing at AA Business Services, said: ‘There are around 120,000 motorists who mis-fuel their vehicles every year and a large proportion of them will be business drivers who are not only damaging their cars, but costing their companies money.
‘Drivers should be talked through the implications of mis-fuelling and what to do in instances when they do and then sign a document to say that they understand before they receive the keys.
‘This could even provide the basis for financial penalties that could be off-set against the cost of the repair if the company chooses to try and reclaim the loss, especially as it is unlikely to be covered by insurance.’
AA Business Services claims the problem has become progressively worse since tax changes were introduced to encourage company car drivers to opt for more energy-efficient vehicles in 2001.
The group has seen an increase in the number of unleaded mis-fuelling incidents involving diesel vehicles up 10,000 from 2003. Almost all mis-fuelling cases (85%) involve drivers putting petrol into a diesel engine.
Williams added: ‘If a big company has a big fleet, it is statistically likely to be saddled with large mis-fuelling bills. So it is up to the fleet manager to educate drivers to change by being aware of the dangers and to make sure that they understand before they drive away their new diesel car.’