Petrol Problems

UK Petrol Contamination Problems

Recently there has been a lot of press coverage about some problems with a batch of UK petrol. Whatprice have decided to take a look at this and find out what the problem is!

Who is affected by the Petrol Contamination?

It appears that some supermarket forecourts in the South East of England (especially Kent and Cambridge) have received contaminated fuel, however the problem also seems to have spread to other areas of the Country. Tesco's and Morrison's seem to both have issues with some of their fuel.

People with more modern cars are having the problems, which indicates that there is a problem with the fuel that is affecting the engine management system. One of the draw-backs of modern motoring!

What is the Problem with the Petrol?

Initial reports suggested that it has been contaminated with ethanol, however this was never particularly likely especially since it it possible to run modern cars on a blend of at up to 5% ethanol without even invalidating their warranty, most cars are perfectly fine on even a 10% ethanol mix.

A more likely explanation has surfaced recently with regards to silicon contamination in the petrol.

Silicon is used in many lubricants and oils and is actually put in Diesel fuel to help the running of the engine. however it is not used at all in Petrol and the car engine management system does not expect to see it!

What does the Petrol do to my Car?

One likely explanation is that the silicon is being burnt in the engine and then as it exhausts it is covering a small oxygen sensor in the modern car engine. This oxygen sensor is used to control the precise mixture of petrol and air to help your car run smoothly and more efficiently. If its readings are messed up by the silicon oxide coating then the engine may well get starved or flooded with petrol, causing the loss of power, juddering and mis-firing that people have reported.

Why is the Petrol problem so widespread?

It is hard to say, but it is probably due to the way fuel is distributed in the UK. One batch of contaminated fuel could have got into the system at some point. This contamination could then be smeared around the country by the fleet of fuel tankers that transport the petrol around. Each time the tanker was refueled the petrol contamination would be diluted, but only trace amounts of the silicon might cause big problems for the modern petrol engine.

What should I do if I have been affected by dodgy Petrol?

Trading Standards Officers are advising consumers who are experiencing problems to contact the seller of the fuel. It may also be advisable to consider having an independent written report carried out by a qualified mechanic.

A sample of fuel should be saved in an unused, approved petrol container. However note that it is dangerous to attempt to siphon petrol off in a modern car, sometimes the fuel tank is under pressure! Get a qualified car mechanic.

Consumers are also advised to keep all receipts for petrol or repairs should they need to make a claim.

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