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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 30 September, 2014

Rise in number of motorists using wrong fuel, says AA

Motorists are being hit with large bills after accidentally putting unsuitable fuel into their vehicles.

Image: Oleksii Sagitov via Shutterstock

INCIDENTS OF MOTORISTS putting the wrong type of fuel into their vehicles increases during this year, according to the AA’s annual breakdown review.

More motorists were found to have put petrol in a diesel engine that the other way around, which the AA says is due to the size of nozzles.

The AA’s 2012 breakdown records suggest that men are more inclined to make the mistake than women.

“This slight increase we’re seeing is not wholly unsurprising given the growing preference for diesel cars in this country,” said Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs, AA Ireland. “Most often its drivers who have switched from a petrol to a diesel car who miss-fuel. Recently we even had one motorist miss-fuel twice in the one week; we also have customers who have called us out on four and even five occasions.”

Although the error is common, the AA says that drivers are often quite embarrassed about it – with some opting to pay in cash so their partner doesn’t discover their mistake.

“People are very embarrassed by it but you are not alone. Every time someone calls they feel as if they are the only idiot who could possibly make this mistake,” Stephen Kavanagh, AA Fuel Assist Technician: “In fact we will deal with about a hundred calls a month. We even had a case recently where a husband and wife both called us quite separately. Both had made the same mistake and both were very anxious not to let the other one find out what they had done. We also had customers go to put the wrong nozzle in again immediately after we’ve drained their tanks they’ve been so flustered.”

Locking keys inside vehicle

Another common reason that AA Patrols are called out is because a driver has locked keys inside their vehicle – something which women seem to do more often than men, according to the review. Over the last year the AA has been called to an average of one member per hour who has accidentally locked their keys inside their car.

Approximately once a fortnight, a young child or dog is locked inside with the keys.

“A parent might step out of the car leaving the keys in the ignition to chat to someone and the child or pet in the back leans on the door lock and hey presto they’ve got a situation on their hands,” Faughnan explained. “A quick call to us however and we’ll send someone out straightaway. We of course always prioritise incidents involving children or more vulnerable motorists.”

Meanwhile, the annual breakdown also shows that flat batteries and punctures remain the most common cause of breakdowns on Irish roads, with battery trouble the reason for 24 per cent of call outs received by AA Patrols over the last 12 months.

The AA warned that some subtle differences have emerged this year which would coincide with the older profile of vehicles on Irish roads; the percentage of breakdowns relating to steering, suspension and brake issues for example grew slightly this year in tandem with the age profile of vehicles on our roads.

According to the 2011 Irish Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics, 79 per cent of private cars in Ireland were four years and older while 60 per cent were six years and older. These figures compares to 71 per cent and 53 per cent in 2009.

Read: 1 in 3 drivers ‘expect’ aggression or intimidation on Irish roads

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