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MTA says contaminated diesel claims lack substance


Diesel engine owners can relax after the results of the latest survey show there is no cause for concern

The Motor Trade Association (MTA) has carried out a survey following recent claims that contaminated diesel is causing a range of problems for some diesel vehicles

The MTA says results from the contaminated diesel survey show that the problem has not increased over the last three years.

Over 30 specialist diesel repairers from around the country took part in the survey which was aimed at getting a better understanding of whether or not there actually are any outstanding issues with this type of fuel, and whether or not the issue is widespread or a localised event.

Marketing and Communications General Manager, Ian Stronach says the survey results and feedback from expert repairers show that owners and members of the public may be getting an incomplete picture. Survey results confirmed that there has been no real increase in the number of reported cases over the last three years.

“We are surprised and at a loss as to why some people in the industry have made these claims, as based on what members from across the country are telling us, there simply isn’t any evidence to suggest that there is an issue,” says Stronach.

The MTA says the Ministry of Consumer Affairs have been carrying out tests on service station fuel tanks at a rate of 18 per month over the last three years, and to date, have found no contamination.

There were 615,000 diesel passenger cars, trucks and buses in New Zealand at the end of 2008, accounting for 18% of the total national fleet. In 1999, there were just 360,000 diesel vehicles.

“The number of diesel vehicles on our roads over the last 10 years has almost doubled (up 71%). When you consider the dramatic surge in the number of diesel vehicles on the road, it’s no surprise that there could be an increase in the number of incidents. However, in this case, our analysis shows that the number of incidents have decreased in proportion to the number of diesel vehicles on the road.”

It was also suggested that certain vehicle models were suffering faults more than others. Stronach says: “It stands to reason that if there’s one or two very popular models, then the odds are, they are bound to show up in repairers workshops more often.”

MTA says it doesn't see it as a reason not to buy a diesel vehicle, on the contrary. The benefits of fuel efficiency and low emissions still remain compelling reasons to consider diesel vehicles, as an increasing number of New Zealanders are.

Stronach adds, like any other type of vehicle, diesel vehicles also need to be well maintained and looked after and there are a number of practical steps that vehicle owners can take to minimise diesel contamination.

Steps vehicle owners should take include:

  • If your diesel vehicle is not used frequently, keep the tank topped up to reduce condensation occurring.
  • Avoid filling from low volume containers such as farm tanks, and be extra vigilant of contamination when doing so.
  • Get your vehicle serviced regularly.
  • Pay particular attention to fuel 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 one service station so you are more able to prove the source of your fuel if it is found to be contaminated.
  • Keep fuel receipts as proof of purchase if any problems occur.
  • Familiarise yourself with the warning lights for contaminated fuel in your vehicle and stop and turn off the vehicle as soon as possible.

This list can be found on the MTA website

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