The orga­ni­sa­ti­on hasn’t yet found the root cau­se of the prob­lem – so it is wor­king with fuel retai­lers to work out what’s caus­ing it.

It has its sus­pi­cions tho­ugh: the 7% bio­fu­el cont­ent that, by law, has to be added to diesel fuel. The issue con­cerns diesel fuel fil­ters, which are becom­ing bloc­ked by a gel-like substance in diesel. This star­ves the engi­ne of fuel, caus­ing it to eit­her run on redu­ced power or not start at all. The orange engi­ne war­ning light often also glows.

This is simil­ar to the old prob­lem of diesel fuel ‘wax­ing’ in win­ter – but it’s not the same. Wax­ing has been cured by modern addi­ti­ves… and whe­re­as waxed fuel used to clear when the weat­her war­med up, this prob­lem doesn’t: the fuel fil­ter has to be comp­let­ely rep­la­ced.

RAC pat­rols first noti­ced moto­rists were suf­fe­ring from the issue last win­ter, but it disap­peared over the sum­mer. Howe­ver, last month, when the cold weat­her returned, the­re were nearly 600 inci­dents! RAC tech­ni­cal direc­tor David Biz­ley said: “The industry is wor­king ext­remely hard to find a solu­ti­on… neit­her the fuel pro­du­cers, nor retai­lers, nor the motor manu­fac­tur­ers saw this prob­lem com­ing.

The cur­rent spe­ci­fi­ca­tions for all fuel sold at the pump have been devel­oped over many years and con­ti­nue to evol­ve bas­ed on a com­bi­na­ti­on of test prog­ram­mes and field expe­ri­en­ce. Spe­ci­fi­ca­tions have been furt­her tigh­te­ned sin­ce the prob­lem was first repor­ted, but it’s clear that we still don’t fully under­stand all aspects of the underly­ing cau­se.

The fact the­se issues are far more pre­va­lent in the east than the west sug­gests that supp­li­es to the­se are­as have cha­rac­te­r­is­tics that are not com­mon to the whole count­ry.”

Have you suf­fe­red a diesel-related bre­ak­down this win­ter? Did the reco­very pat­rol or garage blame a bloc­ked fuel fil­ter? And if so, in what regi­on do you live? Sha­re your expe­ri­en­ces with us…

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