QOTD: Have You Ever Made A Really Stupid Mistake?

Last Monday, I did what everyone who transfers from driving a petrol fuelled car to a diesel fuelled car, or has a mixed fuel fleet, always dreads. I misfuelled my Alfa Romeo Giulietta. And, yes, you do feel a complete idiot when you do it.

Apparently, in the UK, 3,000 people do this every week, usually putting petrol into a diesel car. Sufficiently common, then, for the word “misfuel” to be accepted as a word in many dictionaries, with the full range of declensions. In my case, my excuse was that it was very hot, I’d just got off the train and was thinking about the supermarket trip that was to follow. Or, my excuses weren’t that great. After all, it says “DIESEL” on the cap, that cap’s black like the pump handle (petrol are green) and I’ve been driving a diesel daily driver for over 6 years. As James May would have said, “Oh cock!”. I actually said (very quietly) something worse.

The resolution is actually quite straightforward, assuming you don’t start the car, which I didn’t. A call to the RAC (like the AAA but with orange trucks and royal approval) arranged a flatbed lift home and an appointment with the Misfuelling Patrol the next morning. Incidentally, it was interesting to watch the RAC truck operator use the remote control system for the flatbed drop and winch – clearly, someone has observed and applied what they saw to this process and equipment.

The draining process (actually an extraction through the filler pipe) took about 15 minutes, with the fuel line disconnected where it met the injectors and some detergent was flushed through with a small quantity of fuel. Add a larger quantity of fuel, restart and drive to a fuel station for a correct fuelling.

Oh, and don’t forget to pay for the misfueled fuel. And don’t do it again, like my neighbour did.

So, what really basic error did you make?