Mis-fueling mistake risks catastrophic damage – AA

20 December 2019

Mis-fueling mistake risks catastrophic damage – AA

The Automobile Association is concerned about a reported increase in the number of motorists accidentally filling up with Diesel Exhaust Fluid.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid is known by various brand names including AdBlue, Alliedblue, GoClear, Z DEC. It is injected into the exhaust systems of late-model trucks and some car models to reduce emissions. 

Over the last three years, members of the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) have reported receiving more than 130 claims for Diesel Exhaust Fluid contamination, at an average cost of over $14,000 per claim. In some cases the vehicle was written off as it was uneconomical to repair. However, the ICNZ says this number could be much higher given not all motor insurance policies would offer cover.

“Diesel Exhaust Fluid is neither a fuel nor an additive. It is not meant to go in the fuel tank at all, but rather a separate tank,” AA PetrolWatch spokesperson Mark Stockdale says. “Adding Diesel Exhaust Fluid to your fuel tank can result in catastrophic damage to the fuel system which can be very costly to repair – in fact it usually means the entire fuel system has to be replaced, which is why the insurance claims are so expensive.”

The AA is warning motorists to be extra vigilant when travelling during the summer holiday period if they buy fuel from unmanned fuel outlets or truckstops.

“Truckstops are not like conventional service stations, even though they do sell petrol. Conventional service stations with staff do not dispense Diesel Exhaust Fluid from a pump, whereas truckstops do because they are catering to the trucking sector, and some motorists are confusing it for fuel,” Mr Stockdale says. 

“Truckstops are often located on the outskirts of cities or towns. Their prices are generally lower because they are unmanned, no-frills outlets. If motorists are buying fuel from truckstops they need to pause and take extra care to read the labels on all the pumps.

“If you’re unsure then the AA recommends you drive to a conventional service station instead to avoid ruining your holiday. It’s not worth the risk just to save a few cents a litre on the price of fuel – there is no risk of mis-fuelling with Diesel Exhaust Fluid at conventional service stations so it will save a lot of hassle and cost,” Mr Stockdale added.

“For companies with car fleets, we would recommend each car has a fuelcard which can be programmed to stop Diesel Exhaust Fluid being accidentally dispensed. If motorists have a preferred retail brand, they might want to use the brands smartphone apps which can also restrict which fuels can be dispensed,” Mr Stockdale said. 

The AA is also calling on truckstop operators to improve their warning labels and signage to minimise confusion, including having clear signs that warn it is not a fuel, and additional labels on the pump handle.

The AA would also like all truckstops to introduce other failsafe measures like preventing Diesel Exhaust Fluid from being dispensed if the customer has selected diesel or petrol on the prepay console. 

  • The AA says if you think you have filled up with Diesel Exhaust Fluid or the wrong fuel, do not turn on the ignition or start the car, and call AA Roadservice for assistance on 0800 500 222.


For more information contact:

Mark Stockdale
AA PetrolWatch Spokesperson
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. +64 4 931 9986
M. +64 21 434 097
E. [email protected]


The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.7 million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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