Fuelling Around – Fuel pump faux pas always increases in new car season

Every year hundreds of people experience that terrible sinking feeling when they realise that they’ve put the wrong fuel into their car. It’s such an easy mistake to make, and yet the waves of embarrassment mean that very few of us will admit it to anyone other than their emergency mechanic. OSV, the UK’s best independent vehicle supply professionals, decided that it was high time to break the taboo and to help everyone to feel a little better!

According to Halfords, the period between March and September, where new car purchases reach their peak, is the time when the majority of wrong fuelling happens. Here, the circumstances are understandable and largely driven by habit, but that only accounts for six months of the year, what excuses could be given for the remaining time? OSV surveyed 500 drivers, to find out.

The first reveal, which may well come as welcome news to many women, is that men are the most likely wrong-fuelling offenders! Of all those questioned, 16 per cent of men admitted to having put the wrong fuel in a vehicle on at least one occasion, as opposed to only 11 per cent of women… However, before the ladies start to feel too smug, it’s also worth mentioning, that women are more likely to commit the mistake more than once! What’s more, although we hate to tell tales, women are also more likely to try and hide the mistake! Make of that what you will.

The reasons given for making fuelling faux pas were similar for both sexes:

  • Almost two thirds (62%) said that the main reason behind the mix up was having a new car
  • 24% said that they had two family vehicles and they forgot which one they were driving
  • The final 14% blamed the error on driving a work vehicle or hire car prior to the mistake

Most of the problems were caused by drivers filling a diesel car with petrol; a problem not limited to personal vehicles, with 31 per cent of men confessing to filling a works van with the incorrect type of fuel.

OSV joint-Company Director, Andrew Kirkley, comments, ‘I find it funny how embarrassed people feel about making an honest mistake, such as using the incorrect fuel pump. It seems to be almost taboo to talk about it, but it’s not something to be ashamed about, the main problem is the expense.  

‘If you realise that you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car, the most important thing is to not turn the engine on, as this can lead to real problems. Unfortunately, only 42 per cent of the people we surveyed managed that, the penny dropping for the other 58 per cent when they were driving down the road. The best thing to do is keep the engine off and call in the experts.’

Rachel Richardson
  • 11th July 2016

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