The Wrong Fuel Recovery Challenge
The job of a wrong fuel recovery engineer can be challenging at times due to the fact that every wrong fuel situation is different. It isn’t just a matter of turning up and carrying out a fuel drain on a vehicle, there is also the human interaction part of the job to consider as, quite often, the customer will be distressed and frustrated.
In order to explore the diverse challenges faced by a wrong fuel recovery engineer, I asked a friend of mine, Andy, if he could record his activities on a typical day. Andy runs one of the UKs largest companies offering an emergency wrong fuel removal service. His background as an automotive mechanic and his skill when dealing with people means that he isn’t happy sitting behind a desk running the business in the background, Andy much prefers to be on the road in the thick of things. Andy’s company offers the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and covers all of the UK through a tightly controlled business to business network.
Monday the 9th of March 2015
Andy is up at 6 a.m. which is actually a decent lie in for the average wrong fuel recovery engineer as the peak in demand for this service is usually during the morning rush hour from 5.30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then again at school run time and evening rush hour from 2.30 p.m. until 7.30p.m.
The First Job of the Day – Wrong Fuel in a Diesel Vauxhall Astra in Bromsgrove
The first of the day’s calls comes in at 6.25 a.m. and flexfuel päivitys happens to be in Bromsgrove which is just 15 minutes from Andy, as the traffic is reasonably light at this time in the morning. The caller is Keith and he’s filled up his Vauxhall Astra with the wrong fuel type, unleaded petrol in a diesel car. This is almost always the case for most jobs as the standard unleaded petrol nozzle is smaller than the standard diesel fuel tank aperture. The reverse situation is highly unusual as the diesel fuel nozzle is larger than the standard unleaded petrol fuel tank aperture and so a potential mistake is detected before it’s made.
Andy gets the gist of the situation from Keith, he’s put about 30 litres of unleaded petrol fuel into the Astra and has realised his mistake before attempting to start or drive the vehicle. Andy explains that he will need to pay the fuel station for the fuel and then confirms that Keith is OK with the cost of a fuel drain and that he has the means to pay. Keith will also need to pay for diesel when the job is complete. Andy warns Keith not to attempt to start the car or even to lock or unlock the vehicle as this may prime the vehicle fuel pump which leads to contaminated fuel being introduced into the vehicle fuel system.
The journey to Bromsgrove is easy going and Andy gets there 15 minutes after receiving the call from Keith. The BP forecourt staff have helped Keith to push his car to one side so that the Astra is not causing an obstruction for the other motorists using the filling station. Access to the engine bay is easy for Andy so, following a quick assessment of the situation and providing reassurance to Keith that the situation requires nothing more complex than a fuel drain and fuel system flush, he gets started with connecting the pump to the vehicle fuel tank. Andy’s vehicle contains meticulously maintained, state of the art specialist equipment to perform a fuel drain in the safest and most efficient manner. As they discuss the process, Andy shows Keith his Environmental Agencies license and explains the importance of carrying documentation proving that he is licensed to handle and transport contaminated fuel.
The first part of the process is to protect the customer’s vehicle from the fuel drain equipment using a plastic padded sheet to isolate hoses from the vehicle bodywork. The pump is then connected up to the Astra fuel tank and fuel drain commences. The pump is capable of drawing fuel at 25 litres per minute from the fuel tank but in reality, to avoid any vacuum build up or stress to the vehicle fuel tank the pump runs at a much lower rate. This is still, however, the least time consuming part of the process. Once the contaminated fuel has been removed from the Astra fuel tank, the fuel system is connected up to equipment which will flush through the whole system with fresh diesel to remove any contaminants; only a small amount of fuel is used in this part of the process. Vehicle fuel systems are complex and must be treated with great care to avoid potential damage to internal components. With this stage complete, the vehicle is then refuelled with half a tank of fresh diesel and the engine is started and runs as normal, much to Keith’s relief.