Fuel contamination repair

The consumer’s issue:

In October, my vehicle broke down and was recovered by the business. I was told that the cause was fuel contamination, and that the repair would be covered by my insurance. My car was with the business for four to five weeks, and when it was handed back, I was advised that the bad fuel would “burn out”.

When I arrived home, I didn’t drive the vehicle much, but in February, it broke down again with the same symptoms. I am told that this was due to fuel contamination and a failure by the business to take the correct steps to flush the system.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • The consumer says they bought the car in August 2014. The electronic key was read at another repairer in September 2014, which stated a mileage of 87,000.
  • The car visited us in October 2015 where the mileage was 97,000.
  • However, when we carried out the repair in November 2017, the mileage was 66,000, which demonstrates that it has been manipulated.
  • The car did not go to the other repairer to be checked until February 2018, when the mileage was 68,000.
  • The car is also showing as a total loss (Cat N for ‘non-structural damage’) with a date of February 2018.
  • If we had done something wrong, our experience is that the repair would not have lasted so long.
  • The original repair was also claimed through the consumer’s insurance where they paid a £150 excess. However, this was not mentioned by the customer to The Motor Ombudsman.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The adjudicator noted that the mileage for the kind of claim the consumer was making is usually a useful factor in determining whether the repairer was liable.
  • This is because the vehicle would not usually last so long with a contamination as bad as the records from the third party shows.
  • The fact that the mileage is known to have been manipulated, causes doubt about exactly how far the vehicle truly travelled in the four months since the repair, especially as the damage shown could have been caused by a further contamination.
  • The adjudicator also reviewed the job cards from the first repair in October 2017, and found that this was not in fact due to miss fuelling, but was instead related to another issue with burnt out electrics in the fuel pump.
  • There was not sufficient evidence to suggest the business missed a diagnosis of miss fuelling when they repaired the vehicle, and equally, there was no suggestion that miss fuelling was to blame.
  • In addition, there was no evidence to suggest that the business’ diagnosis or work fell below the professional standard of care and skill the Service and Repair Code requires, nor that the latter failure was a result of the direct or indirect consequence of their actions.


  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator determined there was no consumer case to answer to under the Code, and therefore no awards were made to the vehicle owner.