Drivers waste enough fuel every year filling up their tanks with the wrong fuel to keep two petrol stations running, according to new estimates from Rapleys, the property agents and advisors to the automotive and roadside industry.

Insurer Green Flag has released data which shows a driver fills up their tank with petrol instead of diesel or vice-versa every four minutes in the UK. Extrapolating, this equates to 131,400 mis-fuels over the course of a year.

With the 42-litre tank of a Ford Fiesta (the best-selling car in the UK) taken as an average, this equates to 5,518,800 litres of fuel annually being put into the wrong car. With the average petrol station selling 2.2m litres of fuel a year, this amount is enough to keep almost 2.5 petrol stations open.

Mark Frostick, associate in the Automotive & Roadside team at Rapleys, commented: “We’ve found that time and time again drivers disregard reminders and accidentally fill up their tanks with petrol instead of diesel or vice-versa and that they want garages to do more to help them prevent costly mix-ups.

“While car manufacturers are introducing methods to help remind drivers of what fuel to use, and physically preventing them from using the wrong type of pump in some cases, operators can do their own bit to help by paying more attention to the design of petrol stations, such as using signage and clever design to change drivers’ behaviour so they are forced to stop and think again before they reach for the pump.

“We’re working with our clients to help project manage the delivery of such facilities, where it will be almost impossible to top up the tank with the wrong fuel. This will not only make life easier for drivers, but will also benefit the petrol station operators – after all, a driver who has had to pay for costly repairs to their engine after a misfuel is probably in no rush to fill up again at the same garage.”