Problem with fuel

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Problem with fuel

Post by jpmc on Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:22 pm

Sorry guys it's a long read but quite interesting and could help someone somewhere.

Hope it doesn't effect me anytime soon
NO

Serious questions are being raised about the quality of diesel being pumped into this country's (New Zealand) vehicles. Secret payouts are being made to motorists, amid claims the industry is ducking for cover.

This is the tale of an age-old crude oil product and the most cutting edge, sophisticated vehicle technology and it's not a happy one.

Owners face crippling repair bills as their vehicles are jacked up in garages for weeks on end.

The Motor Trade Association says there were 240,000 diesel cars in New Zealand at the end of 2008, accounting for 9 per cent of the national fleet.

In 1999, there were 134,000 diesel cars.

Now fuel samples are being analysed to see what sort of slimy filth is lurking in fuel pumps.

And insurance firms, fuel companies and car manufacturers are sidestepping any suggestions of responsibility.

All this because the liquid flowing from your local service station diesel pump might just be too dirty or too watery to flow through the intolerant engine of your new vehicle.

A source within one of the largest car manufacture companies says: "It's got to be brought out into the open. There's a huge problem out there. Everybody's ducking for cover."

In the majority of cases, neither the fuel companies nor the manufacturers are willing to take responsibility for this megamillion- dollar conundrum and the compensation nightmare it could ignite.

Many vehicle insurers are refusing to cover repairs blamed on contaminated fuel. In some cases, after months of digging to document fuel sources, customers have secured compensation payouts from fuel companies - shielded by confidentiality clauses - but in most cases motorists are left footing the bill.

It is understood that a fuel company is paying out this week on a repair bill for a late-model family vehicle worth more than $100,000. The vehicle was less than a year old when it started cutting out during journeys. The problem was traced to water in the fuel tank.

It is also understood that a fuel company has agreed to pay the $12,000 repair bill for a new fuel pump - on condition the family sign a confidentiality agreement.

Another diesel driver, who is still seeking compensation for damage to her new vehicle when she filled it with water-contaminated fuel, says her real worry is the lack of assurance that it won't happen again.

"[We] have no option but to trust the system. You don't expect to go to the fuel station and have problems with your fuel. This is a jolly new vehicle."

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Susanne and Davin Mudford, of Otorohanga, bought a second-hand, three-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser for $57,000. Within six months it had ground to a halt on a road outside Hamilton.

The Mudfords were left with a $12,000 bill for a new fuel pump. "They've got these fancy filters in there, so what are these filters doing?"

* * *

Motorists' diesel woes are made more murky by the existence of diesel bug; a slimy sludge that has long plagued diesel fuel pumps.

The bug grows at an alarming pace - a teaspoon of water can turn into 10kg of sludge within 24 hours - and swiftly clogs the fuel pump.

Lower Hutt's Dr Diesel, Lindsay Forrest, who runs a repair garage, says the warm summer caused a lot of condensation in diesel vehicle fuel tanks. That water swiftly converted into diesel bug - and his workload grew by 500 per cent from the previous summer.

The fact that condensation can occur in diesel fuel tanks, and that the diesel bug can fry a fuel pump, has presented fuel companies and car manufacturers with an out.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, from The Dog and Lemon Guide for car buyers, says New Zealand's diesel fuel meets an international standard when it leaves the refinery.

"However, the diesel tanks in many service stations are old and poorly designed. The lids are often at ground level, making it possible for water to get in.

"Also, the garage owners sometimes let the tanks get empty. That increases the risk of water getting in through condensation."

Because water tends to sink to the bottom of the diesel tank at the garage, Mr Matthew-Wilson says people who fill up when the tank is close to empty risk getting water in their fuel.

It requires only a tiny amount of water to wreck a vehicle's diesel fuel system, racking up a bill for tens of thousands of dollars.

The inability to guarantee the quality of fuel is one concern, but the finely tuned, highly sophisticated and notoriously intolerant technology in new diesel vehicles is creating a costly mismatch.

The crude oil extracted off New Zealand's coast is of a particularly high quality so it is exported for the best price on the global market.

* * *

Crude oil is imported from the Middle East and Asia and refined by the New Zealand Refining Company in a process that extracts various products, from aviation fuel to road tar, to diesel.

This New Zealand-refined product accounts for 84 per cent of the diesel sold in New Zealand. The remainder is imported as a finished product.

Since January 1 this year, New Zealand drivers have been buying zero-sulphur diesel, considered one of the world's most environmentally friendly fuel products.

Diesel is a growing trend in household vehicles, accounting for one in every five cars sold this year. The sales are mostly in Japanese imports, with Korean makes Hyundai and Kia fast gaining profile.

Market leader Toyota has introduced a diesel version of New Zealand's top-selling car, the Corolla.

Though car manufacturers and fuel companies concede there is talk in the industry of a problem marrying an organic fuel with sophisticated and intolerant machines, a spokesman for the Road Transport Forum, which represents about 4000 commercial road transport operators, says members have not raised any issues of water contamination in fuel, or of fuel quality.

Similarly, the Automobile Association's technical advice manager, Jack Biddle, says he is not aware of any problems with water in diesel, although he concedes that when drivers pull in to a service station they have no choice but to trust that the fuel they are buying is clean and free of contaminants.

However, in the AA's online forum, Ask Jack, a motorist has posted a warning for owners of diesel vehicles fitted with the modern common-rail fuel system.

"Be very careful to avoid water contamination in the fuel system. I recently filled my diesel vehicle with water-contaminated diesel fuel from a retailer. Fortunately, I had purchased all recent fills from the same station and had kept receipts. This enabled me to make a claim for repairs totalling $12,000.

"If you experience any engine- performance issues after a fill, get the fuel tested promptly for water contamination and act quickly before corrosion has the chance to set in."

There are three contaminants that can ruin a diesel fuel pump: dirt, water and diesel bug.

Water is the most contentious because its source is difficult to prove. The havoc it wreaks on high-pressure diesel systems can cost motorists tens of thousands of dollars in repair bills. First, the water-laced fuel is rejected by the high-tech system, resulting in a vehicle's sluggish, hesitant performance, or, in worse cases, your car will suddenly stop in its tracks.

The second concern is that the water provides a breeding ground for what can quickly become the colony of sludge known as diesel bug.

The New Zealand specification for fuel shows companies are allowed 200 parts of water for every one million parts of fuel.

However, Mobil spokesman Paul Bailey says fuel companies strive to eliminate all water from their fuel.

Mr Matthew-Wilson says water contamination is not widespread, but, because of how intolerant modern high-pressure diesel vehicles are, the consequences are severe when it happens.

"Water contamination is actually less of a problem than it used to be because diesel owners are gradually realising the need to service their vehicles regularly.

"Ten years ago diesels were slow, reliable and forgiving of poor servicing, so owners often neglected to service them. Nowadays most owners are aware of the need to be very careful with their servicing."

* * *

Mr Bailey says fuel companies follow rigorous practices to monitor and eliminate any contaminants.

There has been talk in the industry, he says, about the mismatch between a fuel that is organic and faces the possibility of contamination despite the fuel company's best efforts, and vehicles that have no tolerance for such impurities.

If it is decided the Government's fuel specifications need to be adjusted to lower the tolerance for water, there is scope to address an adjustment. However, it is not amounts within the specification that cause problems.

Mr Bailey dismisses the accusation that this country's diesel is particularly dirty.

"The fuel standards they apply in New Zealand are pretty much in line with the standards that apply elsewhere in the world."

Diesel and Turbo Wellington service manager Wade Noedl says the common-rail fuel systems have a very low tolerance for "bad fuel".

"It's a fuel issue in our country. There's water and other contaminants in there, basically."

Mr Noedl does a lot of warranty work for car manufacturers and is adamant the fault lies with contaminated fuel, not the vehicles. He says some motorists are relying on "luck of the draw" to ensure they are not filling up at a point when the fuel in the underground tanks has been stirred up.

"Obviously there's damage being done because of bad fuel."

He recommends drivers get their vehicle inspected as soon as they notice smoke, a hesitation in the engine or the car being slow to start. Once the vehicle stops dead on the road, the damage to the fuel pump has already been done.

The Dog and Lemon Guide considers late-model diesels "reasonably reliable" if they are serviced correctly and by a reputable repairer. But Mr Matthew-Wilson says he receives a steady stream of complaints from the few people who do have problems, mostly because their problems are so expensive to fix.

In fact, he advises against buying diesel for household vehicles unless the vehicle will do enough kilometres to offset the costs of road user charges, higher servicing costs and high repair costs.

This is a view echoed by career truckie Shades Taylor, who says, unless you are doing 35,000km a year, diesel is not cost-effective.

However, Toyota New Zealand's after sales general manager, Paul Carroll, says diesels offer excellent fuel economy: "It's a long time between fills. That's why most people buy diesels."

Mr Carroll says modern diesel vehicles require a commitment to maintenance and servicing.

They do not react favourably to dirt, water or diesel bug and cannot be expected to continue to run smoothly if they are not regularly serviced. Service schedules are set to ensure the filters are changed regularly.

He suggests owners try to fill up at the same service station each time to aid in identification of the source of any contaminant. Owners who fill up at a lot of different petrol stations might want to install an additional filter as a back-up.

But Mr Matthew-Wilson questions whether the manufacturers have taken all the steps they can to protect motorists from diesel contamination.

"For example, we have a had a rash of complaints from angry Toyota owners whose engines have suffered severe damage, apparently due to water contamination and/or diesel bug.

"We don't believe that the filtering system in many of these vehicles is good enough for the reality of New Zealand motoring.

"Worse, Toyota invariably blames the owner and refuses to fix the problems. I flatly don't believe that the owner is at fault in many of these cases and I think Toyota is going to severely damage its reputation if it doesn't start [to] take ownership of this problem."

Toyota's Paul Carroll says there have been some complaints regarding contaminants in fuel pumps, mainly from customers who have not read their vehicle manuals and are not aware of the warning signs that there are contaminants in the fuel.

Most complainants have been people who live in the country and are sourcing their fuel from stations that may have aged fuel tanks.

"It's not covered under warranty if they put poor fuel in their vehicle."

BUG TAKES A HEAVY TOLL ON ENGINES

For the first time since the late 1970s and early 1980s, a severe outbreak of diesel bug is sweeping through the national diesel fleet.

Lower Hutt's Dr Diesel, Lindsay Forrest, says the snot- like gunk, similar to lichen, grows rapidly and clogs fuel pumps. If the diesel bug is left to set in, it begins to excrete acid which wears away at the pump and fuel injectors. A new fuel pump is worth about $10,000.

"Why have I sold hundreds of fuel systems in the past few months when normally I'd sell dozens?"

Every diesel vehicle has a fuel filter which is supposed to be changed after 40,000 kilometres, but Dr Diesel sees some that need a new filter every six weeks. "One teaspoon of sand will destroy a fuel pump. One teaspoon of water will set off a chain reaction of bacteria."

One-millionth of a gram of fungus or bacteria can produce 10 kilograms of itself in 24 hours. "That's a lotta bug," says Mr Forrest, who invented the de- bug fuel treatment system used by Thai Railways, Port of Singapore and other international agencies.

His main customers are the owners of the more than 14,000 diesel 4WD vehicles in Wellington but he is taking calls from Malta and Cyprus, and says diesel bug has been a big problem in Singapore.

The southern hemisphere appears to suffer worst with big diesel bug problems in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Mr Forrest attributes this to the environment, but others suspect it may be because the new common rail fuel system is keeping the fuel three or four degrees warmer in the engine, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to breed.

'MAJOR MISMATCH AT PLAY'

As diesel gets more popular it is predicted that breakdowns will become increasingly common.

Truckie Shades Taylor says the diesel sold in New Zealand is "bloody rubbish" - but that's not the biggest problem facing the transport industry.

The real problem has come with the advent of technology that just won't tolerate any fuel impurities, he says.

Mr Taylor, owner of Shades Trucking and Taupo Furniture Removals, tells the story of a Wairarapa mate who recently bought a John Deere tractor. It cost $140,000 and he had used it for just 28 hours when it stopped going. The tractor was still on its first tank of diesel and tests showed contaminants in the fuel tank. The repair bill was $27,000.

"The general public out there are not aware of how bad [the diesel is]."

Mr Taylor says there is a major mismatch at play. New Zealand's diesel sits within international standards, adhering to an accepted level of water contamination - 200 parts water per one million parts fuel.

However, the latest diesel vehicles available in New Zealand are fitted with high-pressure systems, known as common-rail fuel systems, which are high-technology, finely tuned, demanding pieces of machinery. "The modern technology, it's totally intolerant of any impurities at all."

As diesel becomes more popular, there will be more of the intolerant high-pressured fuel systems in the national fleet - so Mr Taylor expects breakdowns will become increasingly common.

He says manufacturers know New Zealand diesel is a "rubbish" product, yet they choose not to fit adequate filters to the vehicles they sell. He knows of drivers stung by bills of up to $30,000 for repairs required in their first 500km.

Meanwhile, a disgruntled Kiwi truckie - who received a confidential fuel company compensation payout - spends about $500,000 a year on a product he describes as "rat shit".

He's talking about diesel; the refined fuel on which his transport company is run. He has 12 trucks, each worth about $300,000, and occasional contaminants in the diesel available to New Zealand road users are causing expensive problems throughout his fleet.

One of his trucks was off the road for 10 days after its tanks were filled with water-contaminated diesel. The repair bill for the fuel pump, injector and injector pump was nearly $20,000. "I'm not happy. It's an expense we could do without."

The truckie found water in the diesel tanks of a further four vehicles in his fleet, and drained each of the 300-litre tanks in the entire fleet - dumping hundreds of dollars worth of fuel.

He had paperwork to show he got the fuel from his local service station and tests by his insurer proved the fuel contained water. The fuel company has agreed to pay the costs - as long as he does not disclose details of his case or the payout.

KEEP YOUR CAR ON THE ROAD

* Check whether your insurance covers fuel contamination

* Get your vehicle serviced regularly

* Pay particular attention to oil filters and change them regularly

* Get your vehicle checked immediately if the engine starts to cut out, particularly if you have only just filled your tank

* Consider sticking to a regular service station so you are more able to prove the source of your fuel if it is found to be contaminated

* Keep fuel receipts for at least a couple of weeks

* Read the vehicle manual and make yourself familiar with the warning signs for dirt or water in your fuel
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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by Hicube on Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:30 pm

Interesting read mate thumbsup

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by Rislar on Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:28 am

That quite shocking really!! i not sure how much of this will get across Europe but even so this is a shocking state of affairs!

Thanks for posting this thumbsup

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by navara1 on Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:54 am

Time for a cupper and maybe a after that read.Good read and some thing to think about

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by Rislar on Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:55 am

A cuppa or a stiff one Shocked lol!

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by navara1 on Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:56 am

I do both at the sametime

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by Rislar on Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:00 am

Shocked lol!

Your on fire tonight, did you sort your internet?

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by navara1 on Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:04 am

Internet is fine,its just when im on the phone it takes time and thats what blows the head in .For some reason i can not post on the phone,only PM???????.I'm waiting for the iphone to come just hope it works better than this one.

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by Rislar on Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:06 am

My iphone works fine on here, mind like anything small its a bit of a fiddle so no quick posting, but at least it works grin

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Re: Problem with fuel

Post by navara1 on Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:09 am

Sound mate hapy posting

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