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Getting the (Ad)Blues

By / 7 years ago / Comment / No Comments


I have come to the conclusion that working in the product development department of the AA or RAC must be a brilliant job – looking at trends and predicting what is going to cause the next batch of breakdowns.

A while back I was reading about the launch of the RAC’s trial of a mobile electric fast-charging unit which will enable a stranded electric vehicle to drive a further fifteen miles, by providing a charge the equivalent of a gallon of fuel in just half an hour. This is hot on the heels of the fourth emergency service starting to carry universal wheels to mobilise those vehicles not carrying a spare – which will be most of them these days. It’s been a couple of years since they devised a solution to drain the tanks of those who misfuelled their diesel cars, and a few years more since they started to carry replacement batteries. They all do a grand job of getting us back on the road again, these days with a high roadside fix rate, and generally I’m very grateful for that service, which keeps productivity up and certainly makes my life easier.

True, it was only yesterday that one of our drivers was stranded for three hours on the side of the motorway while our nominated provider struggled to find a subcontractor to rescue him. Apparently the provider deems it too dangerous to allow their patrols to work on the motorway, so subcontracts the service. I get their drift, but I’m not entirely sure that doing so absolves them from a health and safety liability on their subcontractor. The greater the sophistication of the service on offer it seems, the more unintended consequences arise.

I figure all the major breakdown companies are already working on a solution (sorry no pun intended) for sorting out AdBlue problems. My drivers have already been asking about adding AdBlue when they take delivery of their new Euro 6 engine cars. I had thought the AdBlue tanks would be big enough to carry sufficient fluid to last between services but it appears that is impractical, or perhaps unwanted since the extra litres will add weight to the vehicle – something manufacturers have been doing their best to trim down over past years.

So the driver will have to add fluid to the tank from time to time, no doubt bringing cries of ‘can I claim it on my expenses?’ and ‘can you supply us with protective gloves in case we get it on our hands?’

The car will display messages before the tank needs replenishing and if the driver continues to ignore them, once the tank is nearly empty the car will go into “limp” mode and as a last resort when the tank is empty, refuse to start altogether.

Digressing for a minute, we used to allow drivers to buy oil on their fuel cards but then it turned out that some of the blighters were buying five litres and using it to top up their other family cars, and their mates’ cars, on a regular basis. The same thing happened with washer fluid. So we had to put a stop to that and make them claim on expenses, which then meant the meaner ones wouldn’t buy oil at all. I ask you which is cheaper though – putting up with paying for an inflated supply of oil or suffering the odd blown engine. Some you win, some you lose. No doubt we will encounter the same fun and games with AdBlue.

Have you noticed that the Adblue tank filler is frequently sited next to the fuel tank filler? Even though it should be blindingly obvious what goes where, you can bet there will be mishaps. Apparently the two are a really bad mix so whichever way around those mishaps occur, they are likely to be expensive. I wonder what the breakdown services are hatching to counter that one?

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