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Nozzle going into car fuel tank
The RAC is being called to breakdowns related to diesel waxing in cold weather

IF your van breaks down this winter it may well be because you haven’t bothered to prepare it for the cold weather.

On the other hand, according to the RAC, it could be as a result of a problem with diesel fuel.

The problem apparently affects all diesel vans, regardless of age or make.

Data suggests the issue is worse in eastern England and Scotland, with the greatest concentration of breakdowns occurring in the North East. No one particular retailer has been called into question.

The RAC is working with the fuel industry and motor manufacturers to help find the cause of the problem, which results in diesel fuel filters becoming blocked by the formation of a gel-like substance in the diesel.

This can block the fuel filter, starving the engine of fuel and may result in the engine not starting or in a loss of power. The amber engine malfunction indicator light might also show.

The cause is still under investigation, but one of the areas under scrutiny is the up to 7% biofuel content which by EU law has to be included in all road diesel.

It affected a small number of vehicles last winter, then disappeared over the summer. However in November the RAC attended almost 600 such incidents.

In the past diesel waxing was a problem in cold weather but now diesel produced for UK winter use is formulated with additives to prevent this. So that shouldn’t be a factor.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Drivers were often led to believe that there were differences in the quality of fuel sold at supermarkets compared with other retail outlets. This is just not the case as all diesel, wherever it is sold, is produced to the same specification.

“Having diesel fuel filters changed at the right service intervals is important because a failure to do so can lead to starving the engine of fuel. But from the number of breakdowns we have attended this cannot be the primary cause.”

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