Volkswagen didn’t quite spell it out this bluntly, but a copy of a recent dealership memorandum sums it up similarly: North Americans who drive diesel-powered cars are stupid.
The memorandum, obtained by Automotive News, describes VW’s upcoming service action to retrofit almost 210,000 diesel-engine cars in the United States and another 50,000 in Canada with a “misfueling guard” and “fuel filler neck cap” to prevent probably smartphone distracted drivers from filling their fuel tanks with ordinary gasoline.
Once again, if it wasn’t obvious: automobiles that have diesel engines require diesel fuel. Fueling these vehicles with ordinary gasoline is destructive to the engine and will void the manufacturer’s warranty. And yet this is precisely why, beginning in 2013, all new VW TDI-equipped cars will have redesigned fuel fillers that will not accept the smaller-nozzled gasoline pump nozzles.
From the excerpted memorandum: “As diesel engine passenger vehicles become more popular, auto manufacturers have seen an increase in the number of misfueling cases where diesel engine vehicles are mistakenly fueled with gasoline. The resulting fuel system contamination can lead to costly repairs that are not covered under warranty.”
Yes, despite the specially designated green diesel handle, and the difference in fuel price, and the fact that the driver/owner specifically bought a diesel-powered car and has probably fueled his or her diesel-powered car with diesel fuel dozens of times, there have been hundreds of instances where owners mistakenly fueled their diesel-powered cars with gasoline. In fact, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has, to date, received 160 complaints and field reports about this very issue, most stemming from complaints of vehicle stalling or a failed fuel pump.
To VW and other manufacturers with diesel engines’ credit, 90 percent of the fuel samples from these vehicles had traces of ordinary gasoline in their fuel tanks.
Still, NHTSA’s investigation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis, which can lead to a recall, though that has not yet been the case.
According to the memorandum, VW will pay for authorized dealers to add a misfueling guard and fuel filler neck cap to affected 2009-2012 vehicles in an effort to curb this epidemic of ignorance.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)