Am i covered for Contaminated Fuel?

Over the last few weeks we have been approached with the question around contaminated fuel and whether there is coverage for damage that could be caused as a result.

Now we all know that fuel contamination is an issue for us as four wheel drivers. Particularly given the remote locations we get too and the state of the storage tanks at the service stations where we fill up.

We wanted to set the record straight as there may have been mixed messages out there. Our PDS, which you can find on our website at the following link does have an exclusion in it regarding the incorrect fuel being entered into the tank. For example, if you (or someone else!) puts Unleaded Fuel into a vehicle that actually runs on Diesel, the ensuing damage will not be covered.

To be completely clear, there are no exclusions in our cover around damage caused by contaminated fuel. Naturally when your vehicle breaks down you get it looked over by a mechanic. If it is found by the mechanic that a bad dose of is the cause, give us a call and lodge a claim. We will then be able to pursue either the service station where you filled up, or the fuel manufacturer on your behalf.

In the meantime, we can all take a good look at our fuel filtration systems before we head off on our odyssey, particularly now during the Christmas break. There are various options which will help to better filter minute particles and even water out of the fuel in your trucks system.

Small money to pay to keep the adventure going we think.

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Comments 46

    1. Post

      Apologies Banjo, i can confirm with 100% certainty that if it was found that your vehicle was damaged as a result of a bad batch of fuel you would be covered. The initial step would be for you to have your vehicle looked at by a mechanic who will determine that – and if it is the case you then lodge a claim with us and we will go through the process.

    2. Seems pretty straightforward to me. No different from a standard claim:

      Contaminated diesel in a diesel engine – not owner fault – claim approved
      Petrol in a diesel engine – fault of fuel supplier (proven) – claim approved
      Petrol in a diesel engine – fault of owner – claim rejected.


  1. Hi,
    I heard that above alice springs you can only take man made petroleum that many have claimed buggered their engine. Because you cant take real petroleum or alcohol into aboriginal areas. Is this true?

    1. In the NT you are able to carry Unleaded fuel in remote Aboriginal communities and the areas surrounding them, but it is advised that if you do plan to stop in these areas, you should keep all fuel stored (in tanks and any jerry cans) under lock and key.

      Select communities do not have, and are unable to sell regular unleaded fuel due to sniffing issues:

      There is a low aromatic fuel available in many of these areas. The question of whether it ‘buggers engines’ should be left to the manufacturer to answer. I’ve used it many times before and have not noticed any ill effects, but I prefer to use higher octane fuels when available.

  2. Pingback: Claims Explained: What you NEED to know - Issue 3 - CLUB 4X4

  3. Great hear that damage from contaminated fuel is covered. But the underlying message here is to have an additional fuel filtration system installed to prevent this. There is nothing worse than having your adventure interrupted by a dose of bad fuel. It often takes weeks to get the damage sorted out especially in remote locations. I met a guy in Alice Springs a couple of years ago who had a bad fuel problem with lots of engine damage
    It took him two weeks to get it sorted.

    For my truck, I installed a filter from Diesel Care and I carry a spare filter cartridge when I travel. For around $350 it was well worth it.


  4. A good idea would be for Club 4×4 to get on board with supplier/s of filter kits to organise some kind of incentive discount for purchase and fitment of these kits to help minimise contaminated fuel clams. Everyone wins 🙂

    1. Post
      1. A better and fairer option would be to reward members with a lower premium who have already taken the time, effort and money to install and utilise proper protective equipment for their meticulously maintained and cared for vehicles.

    1. Post

      this wouldn’t qualify Ty – The key is finding a responsible party, ie. the service station where you bought the fuel from.

    1. Hi Ash
      I use a filter funnel when I feel up in country areas and even Mackay where I live after heavy rain periods and always when using fuel cans.

      1. I have used filtered funnels with petrol for years and the first time I had to fill in heavy rain was surprised to see the small amount of water left in the funnel after the fuel went through. Prior to the first time I saw the water left behind I didn’t believe it could be filtered out.
        I assume it would work the same with diesel .

  5. Hi john here, I’ve been aware of fuel contaminate for a while, you here or read about such issues from time to time and it is great to see 4×4 bring it up. I had installed a filter in my toyota 79 dual cab to prevent this and also purchased a FUEL FILTER FUNNEL that traps water and sediment before entering the tank.
    The trouble with fuel cans, plastic or metal is the atmosphere in the can at fill time may be heavy with moisture, ie humidity. So how does it come to a problem, base on all things being equal at fill time for the can, at night when things cool down the moisture in the atmosphere of the air space in the can condenses on the upper inside of the can and falls through the fuel and bingo contaminated. Not withstanding bad fuel at a station which may be the same issue or other contaminated issues but its better to have prevention that the harm.

    1. Post

      Hi Mark,

      If it can be proven that someone else was liable and we have the full details of that individual then it will be covered. The key is being able to prove that that individual did it and their acceptance of the fact.


  6. Cutting through the spin I read (correct me if I’m wrong) …. If you put the wrong fuel type in you’re not covered. If you put the right fuel type in from a bowser that’s contaminated we will cover you only if we can prove it was that 3rd party who’s contaminated fuel caused the damage and we can successfully sue them. If we can’t sue them for the damage, you get nothing. If you put a jerry can of the right type of fuel into your 4wd and any particulate from the can gets in and has caused damage, you won’t get a cent because it’s your own fault. We therefore recommend you buy a fuel filter.

    1. Post
  7. Quote “If it can be proven that someone else was liable and we have the full details of that individual then it will be covered. The key is being able to prove that that individual did it and their acceptance of the fact.”
    what if the servo says it wasn’t their fuel that caused the problem, how do I prove it was their fuel? If I put in a claim and they still deny it, is the claim going to be rejected?

    1. Post

      I should clarify here – if you cant identify the source then it’s an at fault claim – if you can and its proven that the damage was as a result of fuel from a specific outlet then it wont be at fault.

      Bad fuel needs to be confirmed as the reason for the damage to the vehicle.

  8. I have a 2016 Ford Ranger and have been advised by Ford that if i have extra fuel filtration installed i wilk not be covered by manufacturer waranty. As the common rail deisel components can run up to $8000 in repairs I am reluctant to go ahead and fit. There are 2 people i work with who buy all their diesel from one supplier with accounts and they received a bad dose of diesel off them. Both late model hilux. Their claims rejected by the fuel supplier and insurance company.
    In my mind the vehicle manufacturers should be adding better filtration to the vehicles for a safeguard. The rangers and Bt50s run a crap paper cartridge which is very poor. A lot of service stations will have any number of suppliers fuel in their tanks. Wherever they can source it from.

    1. The fuel companies should be accountable under Australian consumer law but they are very powerful to fight in a legal battle.

    1. Post

      Correct – not unlike any other insurer.

      A perished motor or fuel pump can just as easily be a result of wear and tear. If every such claim was paid without due diligence your insurance premium would be worth multiples of the premium it is today 🙂


  9. If I fill up with contaminated fuel how long does it take to wreck the engine? So, if this happens and your engine dies immediately it’s probably obvious. If it’s a longer damage process and you’ve filled up again, how would you know? And what if you just top up a tank with contaminated fuel?

  10. I always ask for a fuel receipt at least it’s some proof. If I do happen to get a bad fuel, to help prove who was at fault!

  11. A handy & safe method of checking for water is the use of Shell Water Detector capsules. Use with associated syringe. If you can get a sample of diesel from the pump (or bottom of jerry can) draw diesel through tab & if it goes blue, there is water present. May be best not to use all the fuelling the jerry can as water may condense on the bottom. We use in jet aircraft when refuelling. The come in yellow cylinder about 100mm long. Most small airports would be able to supply them.
    As stated above though, pre filter is best defence. Well worth the investment

    1. Just a note, the Shell site does say that the tabs are for jet fuel & may not give reliable indications in Diesel, so check with a few samples to see results.

  12. If the diesel storage tanks are above ground they are more susceptible to condensation contamination than under ground tanks

  13. My son has been getting fuel at a metro service station at west ipswich queensland his car has started to play up big time then we had spoken to other people who had gone there the samething has happened to them there was dirt falling of the hose it
    Thing there has been so many. Broken down cars everywhere something needs to be done they should be held responsible for the damage done to all the cars around the place I would advise people to stay away from the service station until it’s checked

  14. Need to shop around for insurance as many insurers do cover the owner for accidentally putting unleaded in a diesel. I know for a fact that the IAG companies, NRMA, SGIO, SGIC, RACV do cover this.

    1. Hi Peter, do you have any further information on this, as I accidentally misfuelled my work van a few days ago, and we are insured through NRMA?

  15. Have you seen or heard about fuel doctor? Saw them at the 4WD camping show about 4 years ago and have been using it in every tank since just in case, definitely worth a look!

  16. I am insured with club 4×4 Question am I covered by contaminated fuel what di I have to do to establish fuel was contaminated oe the dealer says the mechanical fault.damage ias due to contaminated fuel

    Thanks paul

    1. Post
  17. I have just filed a claim with 4X4 after my Jeep WJ’s injectors failed so I can be a test case here if people are interested.
    They are new injectors, and the engine was rebuilt 2000 kms ago. 🙁
    My repairer (Queanbeyan Diesel Service – QDS) do a lot of work with contaminated diesels under insurance claims. Although they’ve never dealt with 4X4. Before opening the claim QDS had the injectors independently microscopically tested by DENSO in Wagga, which showed the injectors failed from contaminated fuel. QDS then dropped the tank and there was visible algae around the fuel sender/tank etc.
    I then opened a claim with 4X4.
    Of course 4X4 have their own process to verify things and that’s okay – I didn’t expect to expedite things with the independent tests QDS did with DENSO, I actually was curious (as was QDS) as to why the new injectors would fail. Also, dropping the tank on a WJ is a pain in the butt. So getting the injectors tested is quicker.
    One thing people should be aware of, and I haven’t seen it mentioned in 4X4’s comments in this thread; they warned me that the quickest contaminated fuel claim they’ve ever dealt with was TWO MONTHS. That’s the quickest!
    As a side note, QDS said a lot other insurance companies they deal with (who have lower premiums – see argument from 4X4 above) can turn a claim around in a week or so.
    4X4 want five litres of diesel sent to an independent mob for analysis. Again no issue here, although QDS mentioned most other insurance companies only want 200mls max tested. Also they said in some cases the assessor will rock up, look in the tank and see the algae etc, and approve the repairs. (Again, see 4X4’s argument above about keeping premiums lower even when most of these other insurers have lower premiums).
    Anyway, 4×4 have their process and I signed up to 4X4 so on we go. Although as mentioned, expect to have your car off the road for at least two months (probably much more judging from what they told me) if you file a contaminated fuel claim with them. Stay tuned for updates on my claim!

    1. First update! 4X4 contacted QDS yesterday checking to see if the fuel has been sent for independent testing. 4X4 don’t have an assessor locally so QDS have to get the sample off to Sydney. So at least things are moving. Early days but good to see 4X4 following through on the claim.

      1. So fuel sample has been received by independent tester and Club4x4 should have the results by Thursday. So far it’s less than two weeks since I opened the claim. It took QDS a bit longer than expected to get the fuel sample off.

        1. So things seem to be progressing at a good pace. 4X4 have the test results back already.

          From 4X4 below:

          “Our assessments usually take 24-48 hours to be completed, after this has been completed the claim then goes to management for a final review.

          That final review again takes 24-48hrs excluding weekends.”

          So it’s two weeks since I opened the claim. I was warned this process could take at least two months. So far it’s moving much better than I expected.

          1. I got a baffling text on Friday at 1:03pm (today is Wednesday) saying “claim has been assessed, repairs are awaiting authorisation, claims will be in contact.” I called on Friday and guy on the phone had never heard of a text like this before. He checked and said it was a new “thing” they were trialing. Anyway he said nothing had been approved and everything now had to go to the management team for final determination. He said I should hear from them by COB Tuesday, which was yesterday….

  18. RESULT!!! Three weeks after opening the claim Club 4X4 called today to say it has been approved. Even better they will deposit the funds for the work (minus excess) into my bank account so I can give the green light to QDS right away. No additional mucking around or paper work.

    I mentioned to Alyssa that this was a lot better than the two months (at least) she’d mentioned at the beginning to which she replied they were improving their processes all the time. Clearly they are.

    QDS mentioned this was a pretty good turnaround.

    So, providing you aren’t at fault and definitely have fuel contamination I’d say it’s a lay down misere’ that 4×4 will cover you.

    That said, I am getting an additional fuel filter/water trap fitted by QDS as extra “insurance”.

    Happy with the result. Many thanks 4X4!

    Over and out….

    1. Post

      G’day Adrian,

      Thanks for tracking your claim here and providing your commentary.

      Our staff are trained to provide the worst case scenario to ensure an appropriate expectation for the claimant – if things go well there is absolutely no reason why it should take 2 months – but sometimes things happen that are out of our control.

      Its easier to be open upfront i say.



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