Kiwi couple tackles misfuelling head-on

Motor Equipment News October 2015

For those who own both a petrol and a diesel vehicle, the day we accidentally fill the diesel SUV with petrol is a day we all hope to avoid, although most of us are quietly resigned to the fact the day will come.

But for one Gisborne couple it’s a day they know well. Not because they’ve done it, but because, as owners of a bustling workshop, they’ve spent years cleaning up the aftermath.

Kim and Tony Nelson have been in the automotive repair industry for 25 years, and have owned and operated a fleet vehicle mechanical workshop for the past eight.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen some poor bugger with the car loaded up with camping gear – kids, dog, a week’s worth of supplies, the whole nine-yards – in a total state of panic as he realises he’s put the wrong fuel in his SUV.

Many think it’s a bit of a rookie mistake, but when you’re in a hurry and distracted it’s the simplest mistake in the world to make,” he says.

But, Tony is quick to add, it’s not just the odd distracted holidaymaker.

“Kim and I have seen it happen time and time again with fleet lease vehicles, kids filling up the family SUV, tradies filling up the bosses ute – the common threads are distraction and drivers not being familiar with the vehicle they are filling.

Usually we’re there to help before people do irreparable damage to their engine, but there have been plenty of times we’ve had to pick up the pieces,” he says.

Tony says the cost of a few moments inattention can be high.

“Best case scenario, we catch it quick and can drain and flush the fuel system. Worst case scenario we have to replace the fuel pump and fuel injectors. The bill can run into the thousands, and it can be really stressful for the car owner,” he says.

I’ve spent years thinking – there must be a business idea in there. And sure enough there was.”
Tony started off by developing his own bespoke mis-fuelling solution. But, after a lot of research and a bit of trial and error, Tony found the perfect solution was already out there.

“We spent six months researching solutions and found a number of mis-fuelling prevention devices on the market. Some seemed to present quite clunky solutions, others weren’t robust enough in their construction, particularly for New Zealand’s tough environment.

“But we then found Diesel Head and immediately knew this was the product we were looking for,” he says. Diesel Head was launched in the UK four years ago by inventor Lee Steadman in response to a reported 150,000 mis-fueling mishaps in the UK each year.

It is a simple “fit and forget” product that makes it impossible to put the wrong fuel in your diesel vehicle. The Diesel Head is a simple-to-install device that clamps firmly to the filler point (or inlet) of your diesel tank. It effectively changes the shape of your inlet so that a petrol nozzle simply won’t fit.

“It’s a simple but very elegant solution. The unique diameter of the diesel pump nozzle acts as a key, unlocking your fuel tank and ensuring your fuel integrity,” says Tony.

“What we loved about Diesel Head is that it’s a ‘fit and forget’ product. It’s easy to install, it fits snugly and, no matter how you try, a petrol nozzle cannot ‘unlock’ it,” he says.

So excited was the couple that, within weeks, Kim and Tony had negotiated a distribution deal with the UK-based inventor, securing sole distribution throughout Australasia – their first foray into international distribution.

“Kim and I work every day in the motor trade, and we know a great product when we see one.
We’re really excited about being able to import one of the best mis-fueling prevention devices on the planet and believe New Zealand’s late model SUV and light commercial fleet is ready for it,” he says.

It’s well-known that the new car market is enjoying record levels of success. Busy Kiwi families travel a lot, and the latest figures show the new car industry hitting record sales. The utility is now the second-most popular type of vehicle sold in New Zealand, with a market share of 19 percent, behind the SUV at 28 percent but ahead of the small car at 16 percent.

It’s a trend Tony and Kim hope they can capitalise on.

Many Kiwi families are turning to the SUV because it offers a fair amount of luggage space, an elevated seating position and ease of entry and exit from the vehicle. Whether heading out to the ski field with all their kit in the boot, or doing the monthly grocery shopping in the city, the SUV is super practical for the outdoorsy lifestyle as well as everyday use.

“But as more of us multi-task and multi-car, mi-sfueling is becoming a real issue. Whether you’re a corporate fleet owner, farmer, tradesman, multi-vehicle family or a concerned parent, Diesel Head will provide you with the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that, once fitted, your diesel vehicle simply can’t be mis-fuelled,” he says.

Diesel Head is being launched into the New Zealand market this month and is available online at www.dieselhead.co.nz.

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The great misfuel debate

How many misfuel – petrol in diesel – incidents occur in New Zealand and Australia each and every day?  Are we talking about a full tank or just a few litres of petrol per misfuel? It really doesn’t matter how much fuel is pumped in. The vehicle manufacturers are now all agreed that even a partial misfuel can damage your engine, invalidate your warranty and result in a situation that may take months to resolve, if ever!

Should you have misfuelled already, accidentally putting even just a small amount of petrol in your diesel (which may be why you are visiting this site), you will be relieved to learn that you are not alone! We can only estimate how many people each day make the simple but devastating error of putting petrol in a diesel vehicle’s tank but, with the number of diesel cars on the road, current estimates range from 1,000 to 1,500 misfuelling incidents per day. That’s more than 1 misfuel every 5 minutes and the number is not going to drop in the short term. Whatever the definitive number of misfuels maybe they are recognised as a major problem creating undue stress and financial outlay.

You might not have misfuelled, of course, but you may well know someone who has had “The Experience”. That’s the moment a trickle of cold sweat runs down your back as you look at the filler cap, fuel nozzle in hand and realisation strikes or, even worse, you look at the steering wheel as you hit 100Kph on the motorway and know that you are about to suffer large expense and, more importantly, inconvenience at the time you can probably least afford it because you have petrol in your diesel.

It is a sad fact of life that, often, those journeys where you are under pressure and distracted are exactly the times misfuels will occur – for example, thinking about a trip to the airport, important meeting or rushing to catch the Interislander could be the small distraction that allows the misfuel to occur.

Alternatively, you may be supposed to collect your wife or husband from hospital or your child from the school gates. Whatever the scenario, behind every misfuel there is normally a story, a simple explanation behind you just taking your eye off the ball and inadvertently put that green petrol nozzle in the filler neck of your diesel tank instead of the black or yellow diesel nozzle. Buy Kamagra uk before sex is a sure way of maintaining the desire and the strong erection for more than four hours
If only you had a misfuel prevention device fitted that would eradicate the possibility of this incident occurring and consuming hours of time and emptying your bank account at the same time, not to mention the tears of frustration, worry and the blood pressure going through the roof!  We are aware of a number of insurance policies that have been introduced to help motorists address the costs associated with misfuelling and we recognise the attraction of such policies.  Nonetheless, we remain wedded to the prevention rather than cure school of thought. Yes, keeping up to date with the premiums may help to reduce the pain of the bill for flushing out or repairing the diesel vehicle’s engine but the policy does not address the inconvenience of being off the road for however long.

Interestingly, as an aside, some people appear concerned that they might pump diesel into a petrol vehicle tank. We think it is unlikely that such a misfuel may occur, given that the diameter of a diesel pump nozzle is too wide to effectively access the petrol vehicle’s filler neck and so pump diesel fuel into the petrol tank.