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Susan Care

Susan works as editorial assistant and researcher on personal finance stories. She also writes on a number of breaking news stories, as well as offering great money saving tips to shopping-savvy consumers.

Car hire misfuelling misery

Your liability doesn't end when you pay for bad fuel to be removed from the tank of a hire car. You may be responsible for consequential damage to the engine.

A Telegraph reader asked for advice from Gill Charlton this week. Having put the wrong fuel in the car and driven off, the car then stopped a few miles later. The reader then called out breakdown assistance was towed to a garage and the fuel tank cleaned. After returning home, the rental firm charged an additional €360 to the reader's credit card as the car wouldn't start the next day requiring further work.

The reader hoped that, having paid for a garage to clean out the misfuelling, any further issues with the car would not be their responsibility. Gill disagreed, having driven the car, they could be held responsible for all consequential damage and her advice was to accept the charge and try to obtain written confirmation from the hire company that this was the end of the matter.

The AA estimate that there are over 150,000 cases of misfuelling in the UK every year.

Many car hire firms put a label near the filler cap telling you which fuel to use in the local language which is sensible and helpful, but it doesn't always happen. Do check the hire documents and if in any doubt check with the hire company what fuel is required.

If you do put the wrong fuel in the car, the AA advise that you do not start the engine. In fact, they go further and say that you should not even put the key in the ignition as this causes low pressure fuel pumps to prime the fuel system thus potentially distributing the bad fuel.

Questor, Worldwide Insure, Insuremycarhire.com, insurance4carhire and Odyssey are some of the companies offering misfuelling cover on MoneyMaxim's car hire excess insurance comparison engine, but even here, cover is limited to costs incurred towing the car and cleaning the fuel tank, none cover consequential damage to engine or fuel injection systems.