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The Great UK Petrol Crisis

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Silicon Contamination Problem


The story begins with cars breaking down all over Southern England, but nobody being exactly sure why...

According to news reports (example: Yahoo! News UK - Petrol contamination traced - 3 March 2007) the problem was eventually traced to silicon contamination in unleaded petrol from four petrol storage tanks in Essex. It seems the contamination was not detected earlier because routine tests on petrol did not including testing for the presence of silicon.

Modern cars apparently include an oxygen sensor in the exhaust system that provides electronic feedback to the "Engine Control Unit", which in turns adjusts the fuel/oxygen mix in the engine. The affect of the silicon was to cause this sensor to fail and the car to misbehave. Drivers experienced this as loss of power, juddering, misfiring, or in some cases, the failure of their car to start at all.

Unfortunately the silicon contamination can cause damage to the car's systems, requiring expensive repairs. If you believe that your car has been affected, it is best to stop driving immediately (to prevent further damage) and seek advice from a garage.


 
 
 

 
 
Please be aware that this site was not written by solicitors, mechanics or engineers, and is just our best layman's understanding of the issues. If you need advice on repairing your vehicle, or on legal issues (such as potential recovery for damage to your vehicle), please consult a suitable qualified professional.

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