Petrol stretching, the practice of adding up to 10pc of kerosene to petrol isn’t a new phenomenon. Customs officials north and south of the border have known about the problem for years. However in recent months we’ve received many calls from anguished motorists hailing in particular from the west, border regions and midlands who believe they have been sold the doctored petrol.
Sadly in many of these cases the damage to their vehicles has been very severe often leading to complete engine failure and repair bills running into the thousands. The problem comes like a bolt out of the blue for these motorists who are the innocent victims of who can only be described as gangsters. Such is the damage in most cases that the culprits may as well take a sledge hammer to the engine block.
Some petrol stations, but most definitely not all, may be complicit in the crime and to this effect we advise all motorists to be weary of petrol prices that seem too good to be true. Prices are dropping at the moment so it’s best to bench mark the cost per litre across petrol stations in your area.
What to do if you suspect you’ve been sold stretched petrol.Many of those who have been in touch with us have reported a lack of power, misfiring of the engine and a knocking noise very shortly after filling up their tank. If you notice any of these tell-tale signs take your car to a reputable mechanic without delay. Let them know if you suspect you have been sold stretched petrol and insist the take a sample of the fuel.
Next get in touch with Revenue Commissioners, Customs and Excise and make arrangements for the fuel sample to be officially tested. If confirmed to be stretched petrol, the Revenue Commissioners will initiate an investigation in conjunction with An Garda. The onus is however on you to seek compensation for the repair bill that has been forced upon you. It is also a good idea to get into the habit of retaining your receipt every time you buy fuel.
Tell the AA
If you have suspicions about a garage please let us know. Just email us at email@example.com . We will ensure that your details are kept anonymous but we do try to keep an eye on these issues. If we receive complaints, especially if we get multiple complaints about a single garage, we do bring them to the attention of the authorities.
Garda & State Agencies must have the resources to treat the problem as a priority
Motor Insurance providers do not currently cover damaged caused by stretched petrol. It is a criminal fraud, and has never been part of normal motor insurance. Compensation can be sought directly from the garage who sold the fuel under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act. While we have enormous sympathy for the victims, we feel that covering it under insurance is the wrong solution – ‘insurance’ paying just means all motorists share the cost. This in turn has the effect of normalising / tolerating the crime and just allowing for the cost. The priority in our view is not to get insurers to pay but to hugely increase the urgency and resources with which Garda, Revenue and Customs are tackling the problem.
As the burden of proof is on you the injured party it is good practice as a precautionary measure to pay for your petrol by debit or credit card or to keep the receipt if paying with cash. This will allow you to verify the date, time and location you purchased your fuel if the worst happens.
Armed with as compelling a case as you possibly can, your next step is to approach the retailer in question and be persistent.
If at this point you still haven’t achieved a satisfactory outcome you can opt to take the case to your local small claims court.
Should you wish to contact us directly on the issue leave us a comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org