Incidents of motorists accidentally putting the wrong fuel type in their cars would appear to have increased slightly this year according to the AA’s annual breakdown review, their yearly analysis of breakdowns attended by their patrols.
The AA also shares that it’s far more common to make the error of putting petrol in a diesel engine that the other way around because the standard diesel nozzle is larger than the fuel filler neck on modern petrol cars. Further insight gained from the AA’s 2012 breakdown records also suggest that for reasons unknown, men are more inclined to make the mistake than women.
“This slight increase we’re seeing is not wholly unsurprising given the growing preference for diesel cars in this country.” Says Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs, AA Ireland. “Most often its drivers who have switched from a petrol to a diesel car who miss-fuel. Recently we even had one motorist miss-fuel twice in the one week; we also have customers who have called us out on four and even five occasions.”
The AA also shares that despite the ease of the error, drivers are often quite embarrassed with some even opting to pay in cash so that their other half doesn’t find out.
Stephen Kavanagh, AA Fuel Assist Technician: “People are very embarrassed by it but you are not alone. Every time someone calls they feel as if they are the only idiot who could possibly make this mistake. In fact we will deal with about a hundred calls a month. We even had a case recently where a husband and wife both called us quite separately. Both had made the same mistake and both were very anxious not to let the other one find out what they had done. We also had customers go to put the wrong nozzle in again immediately after we’ve drained their tanks they’ve been so flustered.”
“We even had one individual – I won’t name him because it is a name that is well known – who has called us after miss-fuelling the car on five separate occasions.”
Another very common human error call out AA Patrols are tasked to year round is keys locked inside vehicles, something which women seem to do more often than men. Over the last twelve months the AA has been called to an average of one Member per hour who has accidentally locked their keys inside their car. The AA also reports that it’s not uncommon for a young child or dog to be locked inside with the keys with an incident occurring once a fortnight on average.
“A parent might step out of the car leaving the keys in the ignition to chat to someone and the child or pet in the back leans on the door lock and hey presto they’ve got a situation on their hands.” Says Faughnan “A quick call to us however and we’ll send someone out straightaway. We of course always prioritize incidents involving children or more vulnerable motorists.”
Despite these self inflicted breakdown call outs, the AA’s annual breakdown review reveals that flat batteries and punctures as ever remain the most common cause of breakdowns on Irish roads. Batteries were at the route of 24% of call outs received by AA Patrols over the last 12 months down 6% on two years ago, a phenomenon it says is more than likely explained by the number of weak batteries that were weeded out during the “big freeze” in 2010.
While many of the review findings remain predictable, the AA reveals that some subtle differences have emerged this year which would coincide with the older profile of vehicles on Irish roads. The percentage of breakdowns relating to steering, suspension and brake issues for example grew slightly this year in tandem with the age profile of vehicles on our roads.
According to the 2011 Irish Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics, 79% of private cars in Ireland were four years and older while 60% were six years and older. These figures compares to 71% and 53% in 2009.