James Stanley

Stories from the Mongol Rally: the Georgian Diesel Incident

Mon 17 November 2014

Shortly after we got into Georgia, we pulled into a petrol station to fuel up the car. The writing in this country uses these Georgian squiggles so it is impossible to even pronounce the words. Fortunately, most of the pumps in this petrol station also had writing in Latin, and we determined that the green pumps (like in Europe) pump petrol. So far, so good.

So we parked next to the only free green pump and began fuelling. A short while later, the petrol station attendant ran over shouting "Diesel! Diesel!" He seemed very concerned. I put the pumping nozzle back in its holder and tried to explain that I hadn't pumped very much and I would fill the rest with petrol. This man did not speak English and was getting rather excited by this point, even gesturing under the car - presumably saying something about draining the tank.

Anyway we eventually convinced him that the car would run fine with 6 litres of diesel in the tank and we brimmed it with petrol. He rounded the bill up from 38.50 of whatever his currency was to 40, the bastard. Whatever, we'd had enough of his shit so just paid and left.

The car ran perfectly fine all day, as expected.

The next day, in Azerbaijan, shortly after filling up with 80 octane fuel (the lowest we'd encountered) the car began to misfire horribly. It got to the point where we were coasting several seconds at a time between the car firing. We finally found a petrol station and brimmed it with 95 octane (the best on offer) - but not before I'd tried to siphon out the 80 octane fuel with a hose that was too short and made a royal clown out of myself in front of 7 or 8 Azeri petrol station workers.

After filling up with 95 octane, the car ran fine again. For about half a mile, before the problem returned. We had become quite concerned (although even at the time it was mildly amusing) and didn't know what to do. We pulled over and examined the fuel filter and it was extremely blackened - presumably clogged with diesel. Aha! Good thing we packed spare fuel filters. We fitted a new fuel filter, set off on our merry way, and the car ran fine from then onwards.

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