57.83 litres petrol filled in car with 45-litre fuel tank capacity during ‘experiment’ in Kochi

Deepesh Babu owns a Volkswagen Polo. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Deepesh Babu, the owner of a 2018 model Volkswagen Polo car in Kochi, felt that he was cheated when the fuel gauge at a pump recorded 53 litres when he demanded a full tank of petrol. The reason? According to the manufacturer’s specifications, Polo’s fuel tank capacity is only 45 litres.

Deepesh, believing that the fuel dispenser at the pump was rigged and he was overcharged by seven to eight litres of petrol, filed a complaint with the company, Indian Oil Corporation. What followed was an unusual ‘experiment’ involving the car owner, IOC – which was keen to maintain the company’s reputation - and the pump owner.

The experiment
“The incident took place recently at IOC’s pump at Chembumukku in Kochi, where I have been a regular customer since 2007,” said Deepesh.

However, on that day, when Deepesh demanded the employee at the pump to fill the full tank, the reading stopped at 53 litres. “Usually, the cut-off is 45 litres and sometimes, there could be a difference of two or three litres. But, it was for the first time that there was such a big difference,” he added.

Not surprisingly, Deepesh felt agitated. He reported the matter to the car showroom and also the pump owner. Later, he contacted IOC and all of them decided to carry out the ‘test’ to measure the actual fuel capacity of Deepesh’s car.

While Deepesh wanted to learn whether he had been taken for a ride, IOC authorities wished to protect their brand name. Soon, Deepesh, pump manager Shalu and IOC official Dalbin Christopher arrived at a vehicle workshop together with the Polo. The entire petrol in the tank was drained out and they started filling petrol in the car with a five-litre can certified by the Legal Metrology Department. The ‘test’ ended when the fuel tank in Deepesh’s car became full at 57.83 litres!

Realizing that no fraud had taken place, Deepesh, the IOC representative and the pump manager parted cordially after shaking hands.

What experts say
According to automobile experts, six to seven litres of additional fuel could be filled in most cars above the capacity mentioned by manufacturers. (In Deepesh’s case, it was 12.83 litres). However, for safety purposes, the fuel tanks should be filled only up to the cut-off suggested by the car companies, they said.

“Usually, while filling full-tank, the sensor in the nozzle gets activated on reaching the cut-off and stops the flow. But, when more fuel is filled, another three or four litres could be accommodated in the fuel tank. But it is preferable to stop filling at the cut-off level,” said Sankarankutty Nair, an automobile expert.

“Similarly, a pipe extends from the fuel tank to the cap through which the nozzle is inserted and reserve petrol could be filled there. Similarly, the fuel tank capacity could vary depending on its shape. All this extra petrol will not be taken into account while vehicle manufacturers mention the fuel tank capacity,” the expert explained.

He said that over 57 litres of petrol could be filled in Deepesh's car – which has a fuel tank capacity of 45 litres – because every drop of fuel was drained out.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen company representatives in Kochi said that it was unsafe to fill more than 45 litres of petrol in this model of Polo. Fuel above the specified tank capacity could lead to mishaps, they warned.

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