Contaminated fuel costing vehicle owners thousands

  • 13/01/2010

By Juliet Speedy

A car buyers' guide is warning motorists against buying diesel vehicles – unless they really have to.

The call comes amidst growing concerns about diesel contamination in New Zealand, a problem that is said to be damaging and destroying diesel engines all over the country.

North Island farmer Peter McRae was once the owner of a brand new diesel powered Toyota Hilux ute – but he was glad to get rid of it. When it broke down not long after he bought it, he took it up with Toyota.

“I sent it away and Toyota came back, they didn’t want to know about it, it was fuel contamination,” he says.

Mr McRae says he is one of many he knows who has spent thousands of dollars repairing their vehicles after contaminated fuel ruined the engine. His ute was only three years old.

“It cost me $8000, or thereabouts, to get it fixed and I was quite gutted,” he says. “The vehicle had only done 50,000km."

Those in the industry say fuel contamination by a diesel bug, water or dirt is a big and growing problem, and the new diesel cars flooding the market can’t handle it.

“We’ve dealt with 100 cases over the last six months, and it’s varied in its severity,” says mechanic Graeme Key.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the Dog and Lemon magazine, says oil companies have admitted the problem through confidential payouts.

“We know that they have made a number of substantial settlements with very angry people, who have spent up to $30,000 getting their engines rebuilt,” he says.

BP admits contamination can be a problem, but say any problems have been minor and payouts have been minimal.

“If the product is deemed to be not up to standard because of something to do with water in the fuel or, we will stand by our product and get that remedied immediately,” says Neil Green of BP.

De-bug filters are now on the market to go in diesel engines, but experts say this might not always fix the problem.

“Don’t touch diesel vehicles unless you’re a commercial operator and doing at least 15,000km – but preferably 25,000km – a year,” says Mr Matthew-Wilson.

For the average motorist, he says, the risk just isn’t worth it.

3 News

source: newshub archive