Bad fuel & ruined engines - HOW?


My wife says one of her firm’s customers got some bad gas and had to have the engine rebuilt (this on an Italian exotic). I understand the drive-thru-puddles problem, but how can bad gas ruin an engine? I just don’t get it.


High performance vehicle? As in VERY fast?


reportedly a Maserati and a bill in the 10’s of thousands… but since even very fast cars have fuel filters, how could a little water in the gas break it?


may have been gas either diluted or saturated with a chemical or other petroleum product which substantially changed the flash/flame point of the gas.

a chemical could make the gas explode really early, or a diesel mix could retard ignition really late. what that would do in any case is up to the guy who opens up th engine.

i would suspect an engine on the way out, and this being a “handy way to blame” as the real effect though. but i’m suspicious by nature.


oh yeah, you said one of her customers. have any other customers complained? it would be highly unlikely that ONE car was effected. more details. how did the gas get distributed? what kind of gas? how was it pumped?


This is a third-hand statement that simply cannot be taken on face value. “Bad gas,” whatever that is, does not ruin engines. Maybe the car owner doesn’t want to admit he pumped in diesel by mistake. Or that he ignored the oil warning light. Or maybe a persuasive mechanic is giving his naive customer a load of bull. We cannot know the truth; all we can do is recognize an unlikely story.


pulstar plugs’ll fix it right up!


My sediments exactly. An engine that drinks water directly from a puddle can die, but bad gas on its own can’t do that. So, some other forces are in play here - negligent owners, over-exuberant boat-payment-owing mechanics, etc. Details are certainly lacking.




hey it IS spring time, and the boat payment is due, so. like the lottery ad from NY says… you never know!


According to some posters on this site any car will run on water. :wink:


Aside from the probability that some factor other than water in the gas caused the alleged problem, I want to point out that the OP is ill-informed regarding fuel filters, to whit:

“but since even very fast cars have fuel filters, how could a little water in the gas break it?”

Fuel filters are designed to catch particulate matter. Water, just like gasoline or any other liquid will pass through the filter, as it was designed that way.


You need to qualify the term ‘bad gas’ but on a Maserati, yes it’s possible.

The Maza uses Nikasil coated cylinder liners. Nikasil is very sensitive stuff, just ask BMW and Jaguar both of which abandoned their Nikasil engine development at great cost.

Even the wrong grade fuel i.e. non low sulfer can kill a Nikasil engine under the right circumstances. These engine usually die when they are used for short trips where the engine can’t get fully up to operating temperature. If you have a Nikasil engined car, never use it as a shopper or station car.

The usual fix is a new engine block, not cheap on any of these cars.


The owner had likely been here, seen a subject reading “Run your car on water?” and went ahead and filled up the tank with a garden hose.


Fuel filters are designed to catch particulate matter. Water, just like gasoline or any other liquid will pass through the filter, as it was designed that way.

Well some are designed to block water, but the only ones I know that are are supplied with diesel engines, not gasoline.


Well I did have water in the gas crack a valve once. It was a very unusual situation and it appeared the thermo shock did the dirty work. I am not sure exactly how that worked, as I would expect gasoline to give as much of a thermo shock as water, or close to it, but that is not what everyone who took it apart and paid the bills said. I was just happy they accepted responsibility and paid for the repair.


But, we were talking about gasoline engines, as far as I know. Unless of course, someone is retrofitting Maseratis with diesel engines.



What!? Have you got any pointers to citation for this assertion? As far as I know BMW is still using Nikasil and I’ve never heard of any problems with it.

update: Interesting. I have a BMW motorcycle and they’ve used Nikasil in their motorcycles for years, and I’m pretty sure they still do, and no problems have been apparent. I found with a quick web search that, mostly UK based, BMW car clubs seem very much convinced that Nikasil is a problem in some BMW car engines.


You could try googling “BMW Nikasil” or “Jaguar Nikasil”.

Note, I said “abandoned their Nikasil engine development” not stopped manufacturing Nikasil engines. I doubt they will continue with this technology once the next engine generation is released.


I was just really surprised at this. I did see some web pages about it, only related to car engines oddly enough. I know that in BMW motorcycle circles the Nikasil engines are known to last practically forever. People report tearing down 200K mile engines that still have the original machine marks in the cylinders. Since I follow BMW motorcycle stuff much more than car stuff. I had just never heard of this before.