Green Advice: You Filled A Diesel Car With Gasoline; Now What?

Unless you’re Argonne Laboratories, putting gasoline into a diesel fueled car is a bad problem.

Maybe it was brain fade. Perhaps you rented or borrowed an unfamiliar car. Or you simply didn’t realize that nice Volkswagen or Mercedes-Benz was a new, clean-diesel car. (It also happens to particularly stupid car thieves.)

Why it’s bad for the engine

Among other reasons never to put gasoline into a diesel vehicle, the diesel injectors are incredibly finely calibrated to vaporize the fuel into a very precisely directed mist. The injectors require the fuel to have a certain viscosity, and some engines need the lubricating properties of the diesel fuel to work properly–which they won’t with gasoline.

2010 Audi A3 TDI

While certain newer diesel engines are more capable of running for short periods on gasoline without destroying themselves, the advice is unanimous: If there’s any substantial portion of gasoline in the tank–that is, more than perhaps a few percent–the mixed fuel must be drained from all components, rather than attempting to burn it.

But accidents happen, so what should you do if you–or someone you’ve loaned your diesel car to–fill your tank with the wrong stuff?

Don’t run it, or drive it

First, if you discover your error before restarting the car, don’t try to run the engine. If the fuel pump hasn’t switched on, the gasoline may be confined to the tank, which will need to be drained. Leave it off, and call the garage.

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

If the car’s engine has started, switch it off immediately. It will likely stall within a few minutes anyway, when the contaminated fuel reaches the fuel injection system.

The solution is simple, but it will likely run you at least a few hundred dollars. The following components will need to be drained and rinsed with diesel fuel by a garage:

  • Fuel tank
  • Fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel lines, and other plumbing
  • Fuel injectors

And in certain bad cases, the injectors and other components may have to be replaced.

The whole process can be “either something expensive or something very expensive,” according to the cheerful Straight Dope website. Its “science advisory board” includes a piece on gasoline-into-diesel-cars in the middle of a longer item on the opposite question: Can I use diesel fuel in a gasoline car?

What about diesel in a gas car?

For the record, that too can produce dire effects. They include engine knocking (due to the lower octane rating of diesel fuel), which can ultimately damage the engine.

2011 BMW 335d sedan

The engine’s emissions control system, which expects the byproducts of gasoline combustion, may also overheat or permit excess unburnt hydrocarbons to pass through the system into the air.

But while putting diesel fuel into a gasoline car can have equally dire effects, it’s less likely.

That’s because in the United States, the nozzle for diesel fuel physically won’t fit into the filler neck of a car that requires unleaded gasoline.

Prevention: better than cure

Some new diesel cars make it virtually impossible to fill up with gasoline. Since BMW launched its clean-diesel 335d and X5 models in the U.S. last year, they have all been fitted with a standard “mis-fueling protection device.”

2009 Mercedes-Benz M Class 3.0L BlueTec

BMW’s prevention device is a special mechanism in the filler neck that requires the larger-diameter diesel nozzle to trigger a mechanism that unlocks to open a flap to permit fueling. Hoses for unleaded gasoline have a smaller diameter, and cannot trip the catch that operates the device.

Audi has developed a similar system that it will fit to its 2011 diesel models. In the States, those are the A3 TDI compact hatchback and the Q7 TDI sport utility vehicle.

At least one similar device, known as Diesel Key Europe, is available as an aftermarket accessory in Europe. It can be installed by the car owner, says the company, and also has the secondary benefit of preventing siphoning by fuel thieves.

This story originally appeared at Green Car Repor

  Comments | By - December 29, 2010

Ford Adding Start-Stop To U.S. Fleet In 2012

Europe is already knee-deep in start-stop technology, but we Yanks haven’t been invited to that party yet. Why? Because of differences in the way the U.S. tests fuel economy, for the most part. Without a real numbers difference to sell the feature, it’s hard to justify the added cost. Ford, however, is moving ahead with plans to add the fuel-saving tech to its North American fleet of cars–including non-hybrids–starting in 2012.

The news, released today, means that most of Ford’s range could see boosts of four to ten percent in real-world city fuel economy. It’s also yet another example of Ford moving to unify its global vehicle offerings.

Ford is no stranger to start-stop tech: over 170,000 hybrids sold in North America since 2004 have used it, and Ford’s European vehicles account for even more. The first vehicles to get the automatic start-stop system globally are the Focus, C-Max and Grand C-Max (which we’ll be getting soon as the North American C-Max).

The first of Ford’s auto start-stop cars won’t arrive in the U.S. until 2012, and when they do, you may not even notice it, according to Ford. “Ford Auto Start-Stop works so fast and so seamlessly, most drivers won’t even notice it is there, though they will notice the benefits in their lower fuel bills,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford’s vice-president of powertrain engineering, in a press release.

Changes to vehicles getting the start-stop function will include an upgraded 12-volt battery capable of powering the extra starts, an upgraded starter motor, and the necessary control electronics.


This story originally appeared at Motor Authori

  Comments | By - December 28, 2010

Video: Toyota Previews 2012 Prius MPV Ahead Of Detroit Show

The 2011 Detroit Auto Show holds promise for Prius-lovers, with the first addition to the ubiquitous hybrid brand’s family: an MPV, or multi-purpose vehicle. Americans may want to call it a wagon, or a hatchback, or something else, but whatever it’s named, it’s a longer, larger version of the Prius.

X Games skateboarder Bob Burnquist, himself a big fan of sustainable living and minimizing environmental impact, gives us a few teasers of what to expect–including a look down its long cargo area–in the video below. Beyond this small sneak peek, however, we know a bit about what to expect of the Prius MPV.

First previewed by the Hybrid X concept back in 2007, the idea of a larger Prius is not new. Nor is the story of a full family of Prius-badged vehicles. The production version of the new, larger Prius has even been teased on Facebook. But what of the specs?

The hybrid drivetrain, including both the combustion engine and Synergy Drive electrical portion, are expected to be identical to the standard Prius, though it’s possible the hybrid system of the foreign-market Toyota Auris Hybrid could be tapped to haul the larger load. Roughly 50 percent more cargo volume will be found inside, and seating for up to seven passengers is possible.

This isn’t the only addition to the Prius family, however. A smaller, Yaris-like car is expected as well. Toyota is keeping mum on this expected addition, though we should see a concept version of the car in Detroit alongside the Prius MPV’s unveiling–Toyota says “a Prius concept vehicle” is coming to the snowy show. It’s not expected for sale until the 2013 model year, however.

It all kicks off January 10 at 1:05 p.m. EST, and we’ll be on hand to bring you the live images, news, and details, so stay tuned. In the mean time, see how many unique elements of the new Prius family member you can spot in the video.


This story originally appeared at Green Car Repor

  Comments | By - December 27, 2010

2011 Fisker Karma ‘Final Pricing’ Goes Up Again, To $95,900

The 2011 Fisker Karma is still on track to reach U.S. dealers in March or April, according to the company.

But there’s one new piece of info: The price of the extended-range electric sports sedan has gone up. Again.

Originally announced in 2008 at a price of $80,000, the Karma fairly quickly went up to $87,900 and stayed there. Now, just before launch, ‘final pricing’ has risen another $8,000.

Based on an e-mail forwarded to us last night and originally sent by Fisker of Santa Monica, the final pricing for the 2011 Fisker Karma is:

  • Eco Standard: $95,900
  • Eco Sport: $103,900
  • Eco Chic: $108,900

There’s also a mandatory destination charge of $950 on top of those prices.

Fisker Karma

Karmas are eligible for a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit as well as a variety of state and local incentives. In California, the car qualifies for a $5,000  purchase rebate on top of the Federal allowance.

Options for the 2011 Fisker Karma run as follows:

  • Tri-Tone Leather Interior: $2,200
  • Diamond Dust Paint: $3,000
  • “Special Paint”: $3,000

The Fisker Karma order guide shows all the available colors, as well as various other choices for future owners to make.

According to the dealer’s e-mail, test drives will be available in late February or early March.

Fisker exhibited its prototype Karma at each of its dealers in a lengthy U.S. national tour last summer.

The company hasn’t released final specifications, but the 2011 Karma is expected to travel 50 miles using only electricity from the battery. After its lithium-ion battery pack is depleted, a range-extending 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder GM Ecotec engine switches on.

The engine turns a generator that produces electricity to operate the drive motors for a further 250 miles of range.The rear wheels are powered by a pair of 150-kilowatt electric motors. Fisker has quoted a 0-to-62-mph time of less than 6 seconds, and a maximum speed of more than 125 miles per hour.

This story originally appeared at Green Car Repor

  Comments | By - December 23, 2010

2012 Ford C-Max Final Specs: 2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview

Last fall we brought you the first drive of the 2012 Ford C-Max, but since the vehicles we drove were European-spec vehicles, we’ve been waiting on word of the final U.S. specifications.

Today Ford’s released those specs, starting with engine output in both the C-Max’s standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder or in its 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four. Both chime in with 168 horsepower–with the catch that on premium fuel, the EcoBoost four ups its power to 180 hp. Both fours come with a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission standard. Fuel economy hasn’t been released, but Ford execs say a 30-mpg highway target is intended for the EcoBoost engine.

In other U.S.-specific ways, the C-Max MPV reaches up to the buyers of bigger minivans with a rich mix of features and standard equipment. The five-plus-two seating arrangement stays, as do the twin sliding side doors and the fold-away middle-row, middle seat–it tucks away into the bottom cushion of the right-side seat to leave a walk-through for easier access to the third row. American buyers will be able to delete the third-row seat, Ford says.

As for other features, the C-Max will offer a capless fuel filler; an optional Sony audio system and SYNC Bluetooth-activated controls for the navigation system and the satellite and HD radio packages; a panormaic roof; and ambient lighting. For safety, a rearview camera and parking sensors will be offered as well as push-button start and active parking assist.

The C-Max also will offer the first U.S. application of foot-gesture opening for the tailgate, a technology first seen on Euro versions of the BMW 5-Series.

The 2012 C-Max arrives in showrooms late next year, but Ford promises more information at the 2011 Detroit auto show. Stay tuned.


This story originally appeared at Motor Authori

  Comments | By - December 20, 2010

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