Figures collated by Lloyds TSB autolease show that a total of 192 incidents for the first three months of 2005 were reported by company car drivers, costing its customers £50,000. It claims that in 2004, there were 120,000 misfuelling incidents in the UK among private and business drivers, with repairs costing £80 to £12,000 per vehicle.
The company’s head of technical services, George Reid, said: ‘With the advanced and refined diesel cars now available, more and more people are switching and enjoying the better fuel economy and tax breaks available. But for many people, especially when switching over to diesel for the first time, filling from the petrol pump is a hard habit to break.
‘It is an easy mistake to make as often the fuel pumps differ in colour from station to station but it is equally easy to avoid repair costs if drivers are informed of a few simple steps to take if they use the wrong pump, particularly if they are told when they take delivery of their new diesel vehicle.’
The company suggests fleets tell their drivers to push their cars out of the way of the petrol pump once they have realised their mistake.
Turning the key in the ignition could cause serious damage to the engine, but as Reid explained: ‘With diesel cars today you don’t even need to turn the engine over to cause serious damage. Modern diesels pump fuel through their systems the second the electrics are turned on, so even turning the ignition key without starting the engine could make repair costs soar.’
The company adds that in the worst cases, starting an engine can cause irreparable engine damage.