Make Sure You Get Diesel Fuel and Not Gas

Toyota Land Cruiser stopped right here because of incorrect fuel.  Really a busy highway.  Photo by Glendon Caballero
Toyota Land Cruiser stopped right here because of incorrect fuel. Really a busy highway. Photo by Glendon Caballero

Something about Murphy’s Law and purchasing Diesel fuel at a gas station pump with three nozzles.  I was 20 miles away and on the phone with dearly beloved when she said “How the vehicle driving so like something wrong.”

“Sounds like they sold you gas for diesel,” I said, having experienced the downtime and apprehension about four years ago myself. 

“The vehicle shut off on mi.  Made a loud noise in engine and shut off.”

“You tried starting it?”

“Not starting.  Hurry up and come.”

There was no easy explanation why a 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado should just up and stop in the middle of the road.  She had just bought it a month ago, and a mechanic had given it a clean bill of health.

“You be careful.  Where are you?”

I was heading for Kingston as well but would surely be about 20 minutes away from her location on the May pen Bypass.  She had just crossed the bridge over the Rio Minho but had not yet reached the landmark Junk Yard.  I advised her to proceed to the Junk Yard to get a mechanic. 

Then began to try my own diagnosis.  “You said you heard a noise in engine, darling.  Maybe it’s fan belt.”

“No I think they sold me gas for diesel.  I called for diesel and - “

“But you are not a mechanic, how can you be sure.  That was my first thought but it has to be checked by a mechanic.”

“I will tell you in a little while.  Gas smells differently.”

All this while I’m doing my best to cover the distance.  We lose reception momentarily.  I ring back. “I just smelled it.  It’s gas.  They sold me gas.”

“Can you be sure?  I mean let the mechanic decide.”


Manual flushing of adulterated fuel mixture.  Photos by Glendon Caballero.
Manual flushing of adulterated fuel mixture. Photos by Glendon Caballero.

Solving the Fuel Problem And All That

Before long she had walked the 100 meters to the Junk Yard, a large establishment, one of the older junk yards in Jamaica. I heard her telling the people the diagnosis despite my warning. And the next thing I knew she was in a car with a mechanic, heading into the heart of the capital city of the parish of Clarendon.

“That is so foolish; you should give them the money and wait with the vehicle.”

“They thought it was safer for me to go with them.”

My goodness. While writing this article just this instance I am remembering that we could have saved ourselves all that because Insurance Company of the West Indies offers a roadside assistance programme for its policy holders. My goodness, all she had to do was call and they would have arrived with roadside help.

Meanwhile I had stopped at the offending gas station and had her talk, via my cellphone, to the very cooperative manager, who knew exactly what was needed. He sent fuel treatment and oil treatment, as well as two or three quarts of oil. They were getting ready to send diesel oil as well but since she had gone to get diesel oil with mechanic I figured that with my van full of merchandise we should hurry to her location. He also sent a young supervisor with me.

When we arrived she was seated on passenger side of her Land Cruiser looking quite frustrated. It should have been a productive day for us in the Jamaican capital 60 miles away. We had earlier packed both vans with merchandise. We alternated vehicles often. Earlier, she had given me the choice and even suggested that I drove the Prado instead and I had declined saying “No, you bought it for your comfort so you should really get the benefit of it where possible. Plus the radio in the Suzuki picks up all the stations. And you know how I enjoy talk radio.”

Now we were both parked by the roadside in May Pen as a mechanic pumped away at the gas pump to flush the adulterated mixture of petrol and diesel. Two 5-gallon buckets were already full. A blue hose led to a third into which the brownish looking fluid ran. “So is really the gas thing?” He confirmed my first suspicion and my wife’s last insistence. Then I asked the supervisor to check it for himself since that would mean we didn’t need to take back a sample to the manager.

The pumping was hard work and took about another hour.

Then I discovered that the team that my wife went scouting with did not buy any fuel. “But I thought...”

They explained something about a diesel pump not working well at the gas station nearest his garage. They had really gone to get empty buckets to pump the fuel into. The taxi driver was still there when I arrived but seeing that the ever ready to solve every problem husband was now on the scene he had left. So I opted to remain with the mechanics while my wife drove the supervisor the five miles to the offending station to get diesel oil, and also to identify the attendant.

Close up of fuel filter showing white valve which is released to allow water to leak out of the unit.  Photo by Glendon Caballero.
Close up of fuel filter showing white valve which is released to allow water to leak out of the unit. Photo by Glendon Caballero.

Removing Water From Purolator Filter Valve and Restarting the Engine

When the blue hose ran dry the mechanic opened a white valve on the Purolator filter and called me to show me the water which runs out of the bottom of the filter. “You should open this from time to time to let out water,” he said. After a while he showed me that water had stopped running out and it was now discharging the fuel mixture.

Wife returned with the diesel oil and stories about a distraught gas attendant. Which a few minutes later a phone call from the manager updated, since it appeared she had pointed out the wrong attendant. The security tape showed another one. “Honey you need glasses.”

We tried starting. Battery dying. Not now. They bled the hose leading to injectors. Tried to start again. Nothing. Connected jumper cable from the Suzuki. Then they gave me precise instructions to turn on the ignition and wait until the glow plugs were warmed up before finally engaging starter. It worked like a charm.

Old and New Knowledge, and Then Some!

So we both lost a day of productivity in Kingston. One old lesson and two new ones based on this experience with the 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Diesel engine.

  1. Especially if you drive a diesel, always double check to see which fuel is being pumped into your fuel tank.
  2. The function of the almost magical filter which separates the water which can then be leaked out through white valve you will see in picture. As far as our experience was concerned this was not the problem but it was a good lesson to learn. In other words, under normal circumstances you will have this build up of water which is separated by this filter. The mechanic had opened that valve to flush the fuel filter, not primarily to get rid of the filtered out moisture. He wanted to flush the petrol that was in there so that only diesel would be in the line.
  3. When starting a cold engine, pause to allow the glow plug to warm up.

There were many other lessons that day. On our way back home I implored the manager to be merciful to the pump attendant since we were not seeking costs beyond fuel and the mechanic’s pay. He had kindly given us two quarts of oil along with oil treatment and gas treatment. I thought they would have been used right away but the mechanic advised us to get going now and use them the next time I service the engine, preferably as early as next week. I trust that that there will be no major concern as a result of the fuel adulteration.

God was good to us. I was able to return to our town and conduct some business before the end of the business day.

Photo by Glendon Caballero.
Photo by Glendon Caballero.

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Comments 2 comments

Hope Wilbanks profile image

Hope Wilbanks 7 years ago from Louisiana

Goodness! We had a similar problem one time. We were on a long road trip and were heading back home, when we stopped for gas. My husband pumped and paid and as soon as we pulled out on the road, his truck started making awful noises and lights started coming on, and it finally puttered to a stop in the middle of the highway. After we called the local Ford dealership and had the truck towed there to be checked out, we found out the gas station we stopped at had water in their gas tanks!! So everybody that had bought gas from them had the same thing happen to them. Thankfully, since the gas station was responsible, they paid for all repair costs and put a full tank of gas when it was all said and done. But we ended up having to stay overnight there until the truck was fixed and running properly again.


glendoncaba profile image

glendoncaba 7 years ago from Somewhere in the hubverse Author

Thanks for input Hope.

I missed out on asking for a full tank. :)

The experience can be quite upsetting, but I try to learn from every thing.

Since reading your comment I have gone back into article to clarify that it wasn't the water which had caused our problem since that filter removes and stores moisture over time. While discharging the adulterated content of filter, water was released first because of how the Purolator filter works.

I know you were not saying ours was due to water as well, but I just wanted to clarify for other readers.

Please continue to visit.

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