Volkswagen to refit late-model diesel vehicles because Americans keep filling them with gas

Updated May 28, 2013
Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI clean diesel model is rated at 42 mpg highway and 30 mpg in the city.Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI clean diesel model is rated at 42 mpg highway and 30 mpg in the city.

Diesel is certainly rising in popularity here in the States, but a recent report from Automotive News really shows just how oblivious to the fuel the majority of Americans are—even when they buy a car that requires it.

Volkswagen sent a notice to its dealerships last week that it will begin refitting 209,500 diesel vehicles in the United States with modifications that will prevent drivers from mistakenly fueling the cars with gasoline instead of diesel.

Apparently so many Americans are putting gas in their diesel VWs that it’s “become an occasional source of tension” between the automaker and its customers, Automotive News reports. Misfueling causes failure in high-pressure fuel pumps and eventually the car just shuts down.

Beyond the inconvenience, customers were angered to find that misfueling also voids their warranties.

In fact, so many customers complained of this that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened up an investigation only to find that operator error was the culprit.

Cars covered by the refitting include the 2009-12 TDI models of the Jetta, Golf and Jetta SportWagen. The refitting will include installing a misfueling guard in the tank and a fuel filler neck cap. What seems a bit unfair about all of this is that VW will pay for the parts and installation.

VW’s newest models already have these safeguards. Beginning in 2013 the automaker began using diesel tanks that only accept diesel fuel pump nozzles.

“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,” according to VW’s notice to dealers. “The resulting fuel system contamination can lead to costly repairs that are not covered under warranty.”

Customers should begin receiving notifications to bring their cars in on May 28.