Contaminated Petrol - Robin Hall
I've just received my Vectra back from the Garage after breaking down with what was initially diagnosed as a faulty Camshaft Sensor. I had just filled up at a Garage when the Engine Management System warning light came on and she just died. The eventual diagnosis was that I had a tankful of Petrol contaminated by water. This wasn't a back street garage, but one of the largest brands on a busy dual carriageway. Luckily it's a company car and Overdrive, the maintenance company, will be attempting to claim the cost back from the Garage - I wouldn't fancy my chances as a private driver trying to do the same. I haven't seen the final bill but the notes stretched to 2 pages and I'm sure I saw 33 in the unit labour column - I assume hours. Has anyone else experienced this sort of thing before and what was the outcome with the garage?

Re: Contaminated Petrol - Dave Y

Not sure I believe the contaminated petrol explanation. I had a Cavalier which used to go through cam & crankshaft sensors as if they were going out of fashion & I believe that the earlier Vectras had the same problem. Occasionally it could result in a non-start but it more often used to manifest itself as a violent stall just after pulling away or a jerk during normal driving.
No-one ever got to the bottom of it but the Vauxhall main dealer reckoned that replacing the wiring loom (£500+) MIGHT do the trick - on the other hand.....!
I finally got rid of it.

It is just possible that the battery may be going off - I believe that these sensors were incredibly sensitive to the least electrical glitsch and did supect that poor battery charge holding might have been the root cause

I would have thought that cases of contaminated petrol are likely to be pretty rare these days.
Good luck!
Re: Contaminated Petrol - Nick Ireland
It might be hard to prove but in our litigatious society I would have thought that contaminated petrol fell within some part of the Sale of Goods Act. Speak to local trading standards. If it was water in the petrol then others will have probably been affected around the same time as you and you should be able to get together. I put petrol in a diesel the other day (DOOH!) and it cost me £180 door to door, tow in, sort out and delivered home.
Re: Contaminated Petrol - Brian
When I used to audit a fuel supplier I got talking to the owner about this.
Apparently, if I recall correctly (it was a few years ago), the fuel in the storage tanks at the refineries/depots is floating on water, so that any leaks at the base will only be water and the tank is full so there is no vapour above the fuel.
A pipe is lowered into the fuel to draw it off.
So if the operator lowers this probe too far he lands up filling up the road tanker with water instead of fuel.
Re: Contaminated Petrol - Martin
Yep !

Happened to a site nearby when I was in the game. Cars stranded all over town so it was difficult for the supplier to deny. This was many years ago so the bulk plant loading method may have changed. Sh**l paid for a lot of tow-ins etc that day.

HOWEVER unless lots of folk are in the same situation you will find it most difficult to prove.

I am told the water can be anylased also to give an idea of its origin.

You could ask the site manager to do what I did whenever water was blamed.

I put water testing paste on the tank dipstick and dipped the fuel tank in front of customer . Paste stayed the same colour(pale green if I remember ). Then touched the dipstick end into some water and it went purple instantly. Usually the customer was convinced and remained loyal .


Re: Contaminated Petrol - Guy Lacey
I think you will find that the water in the fuel, of which there is some anyway, will naturally settle at the base of the tank.

At the site I work at we have a million litres of Heavy Fuel Oil in storage and also a similar quantity of LFO. The water eventually settles at the bottom and is drawn off each week into an oil/water interceptor. It is not there to leak first - it's just a pain.

I don't think the Environment Agency would like to hear that the refineries have water in their tanks - "just in case they leak" - it doesn't sound very reassuring.

Value my car