I was loaned a Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTEC to test drive recently. The BlueTEC is a new clean diesel car that gets an amazing 700 miles to the tank and unlike old diesel engines, does not spew fumes or soot in its wake. But like old-school diesel engines, it uses its own type of gas: diesel.
I made note of the fact that the car was diesel when I got it. And knowing that regular gas–even premium–can damage a diesel engine, I feared I would end up putting regular gas into the tank, simply out of habit. But Mercedes, as a flag to its customers, made the gas cap green, the same color as most diesel gas pumps; diesel drivers have gotten to know this. It’s a pretty good reminder.
For a bit, I didn’t even have to think about fueling the car. That’s because you can drive on a tank full of diesel gas for a VERY long way. I’m talking two or three times as far as a regular tank. In the car I typically drive, a Chrysler Pacifica, I can go about 250 miles on a tank of gas.
During the week I had the GL350 I made a trip from Atlanta to the Mercedes plant in Alabama and back, I didn’t need to put more gas into the tank the entire time. And we drove it around a ton while we were there, from the hotel to the plant and all the other locations they set us up to visit.
It wasn’t until I got back to Atlanta that I saw the fuel light pop on.
Since I was set to turn the vehicle back in, I wanted to put just enough gas in the tank to get it back safely to its owners.
When I got the car, it was made clear to me that diesel is typically differentiated by a green handle at the pump when you get to the gas station. So, I tucked that knowledge away in my brain…if I put gas in, it needed to be the green one.
When I ran low, I pulled into a BP gas station to put a couple bucks of gas into the tank.
I silently praised myself for remembering the green option and didn’t think twice about it when I pumped away.
What I didn’t realize is BP doesn’t follow the norm when it comes to marking diesel. Green is their ‘brand’ color and they use green for their regular gas.
So, yeah, I ended up putting regular gas into a diesel tank.
I realized something was wrong within a mile, when the vehicle didn’t want to go above 20 mph. Luckily, I got the gas about a mile from my home, so I only had to get it down my street and into my driveway when the problem started.
I didn’t realize it was a gas issue until I called the folks who had delivered the car. When I described the problem, they knew right away.
I insisted I put diesel in the tank. I KNEW I went with the green choice. But as soon as I told them I went to BP to get the gas, they knew it was regular gas, not diesel in the tank.
They went on to explain that BP is confusing and they’d heard of it happening before.
When I told a girlfriend about it, she told me I was the third person she heard about it happening to in recent months.
It’s surprising that BP hasn’t addressed this problem; their branding isn’t creating fans; quite the opposite. And with the growing popularity of diesel cars–due to the extended range and better fuel efficiency–this is a problem more and more consumers will have.
Let’s make this a standard for all diesel fuel tanks… green should be diesel, and nothing else.
Editors Note: BP, when contacted about consumer confusion at the pump, responded that “BP retail stations comply with all current Federal, State, and Local regulations. Every effort is made to ensure all our dispensers have labels that clearly and visibly reflect their contents
While there may be other retailers that use green nozzles for diesel fuel, there is no industry-wide regulation specifying the color of the diesel dispenser nozzle.”
Desiree Miller is a veteran television news journalist who loves to travel for business and pleasure. She shares stories of inspiration, hope and humor on her site, www.StressFreeBaby.com.