Misfuelling fuelled by the heat?

posted in: General News

After the RAC suggests that drivers who become “flustered by the heat” are more likely to misfuel, we ask what’s really behind our misfuelling accidents.

Man Putting Petrol into His Car

Summer may have taken its time to arrive but it’s finally here and the Sun will inevitably be running a ‘Phew, what a scorcher’ headline any day now. With the mercury rising, the RAC has put together a piece on driving precautions in a heatwave, and one of its comments has raised a few eyebrows.

The company suggests that heatwaves lead to an “increase in misfuels as drivers get flustered by the heat at the pumps.” Which begs the question, where’s the evidence for that? Is there a link between heat and misfuelling – and if not, what else might explain why around 133,000 of us every year choose the wrong pump for our fuel?


There doesn’t appear to be any data directly linking misfuels with temperature, but there does seem to be evidence to support the idea that distractions do lead to misfuels. Now, distractions can come in many shapes and sizes, but it’s not unreasonable to think that the brain fog that comes from melting on a hot forecourt might be one of them.

But according to an AA report, and as reported by Fleet News, distractions account for just 7% of misfuels. Far more likely to bamboozle you is driving a hire vehicle.

Rental car confusion

Curiously, the AA broke down its survey by those who said their misfuel was the result of driving a hire car (11%) and those who said it was a result of driving a vehicle that used a different fuel to their regular vehicle (13%). Presumably, there’s a good chance your hire car might use a different fuel to your regular car, so there’s every chance that hire car misfuels may be a factor in both stats.

Yet it seems nothing is more likely to trigger a misfuel than haste – something that everyone who has a meeting to be in or an appointment to keep will identify with.

Avoiding misfuels

When you pull onto the forecourt for fuel, no matter how rushed you are, take a few seconds to double check the vehicle you’re in, the fuel it uses, and the correct pump to choose. If you’re in a hire car, pool car or any unfamiliar vehicle, then making that check becomes doubly important.

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