Topaz, the country’s largest fuels and convenience retailer has warned motorists that the prevalence of ‘petrol stretching’ is on the rise countrywide, but especially in the west, midlands and border regions. Petrol stretching, which is illegal, involves rogue traders adding up to 10% kerosene to petrol before selling it on to unwitting drivers.
Fuels which have been tampered or stretched in this way will cause severe damage to cars. The warning signs include a lack of power, a misfiring engine, a knocking noise and the engine warning light coming on.
Topaz is urging motorists to be vigilant and to only buy fuel from reputable and trusted sources. It’s understood illicit traders can also add methanol and ethanol - which are essentially paint thinners - to fuel, to increase the volume or ‘stretch’ the product.
Because kerosene and these other products are cheaper than petrol, unscrupulous traders can make up to €700 extra for every 10,000 litres of petrol they sell.
Topaz Marketing and Corporate Services Director Paul Candon said ‘petrol stretching’ has been an issue for around five years but said it had become much more widespread in recent months.
“Stretched petrol is worse than laundered diesel. The engine pistons can melt and end up coated in carbon. The engine will be damaged more quickly leaving the driver facing massive repair bills.
“While it’s more common in some parts of the country the Society of Irish Motor Industry says it has recently received reports from every county in Ireland about ‘petrol stretching’. So it’s clearly a problem which is spreading and that is why we are calling on motorists to be vigilant.
“From a Topaz perspective, all our fuels are tested at each stage of the supply chain to ensure that they are fully compliant with international and local product specification – (EN590 for diesel or IS 228 for unleaded). We are extremely proud of our fuels and our exclusive additive which improves fuel efficiency – up to 24kms further per tank compared to regular fuels – reduces CO2 emissions and cleans your engine through regular use” Mr Candon concluded.