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

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