Lemans trip finds water in a bikes petrol tank

20 June 2014 | Bruce Compton

Yes this really happened, water accidentally put into a petrol tank, AFF attended a very concerned 30 year old man Monday night who’d arrived at Dover by ferry and couldn’t get his Suzuki SV650 to start.

suzuki SV650 water in petrol tank


As the story unravelled it became clear that he’d passed his full bike test only one month ago and had set out to ride from his home in Manchester to Germany and through France, the final destination being the 24h Le Mans. He wasn’t alone in his travels – he’d met up with friends during the French leg of his journey who were also going to Le Mans.

These guys were in vans though, with pit bikes that they intended to use to move around the site of the race. They’d had a great experience and were near the ferry on their way home when our motorcyclist realised he was very low on fuel. One of his friends in the van offered to provide 5 litres from a green plastic jerry can – this was gladly accepted. The problem was discovered on the other side of the channel when the bike wouldn’t restart. The rider guessed the jerry can had been filled with diesel so found AFF’s number on a Google search and, once he’d called the 24/7 response line, an engineer was on scene 75 minutes later.

There was confusion for a short while – upon dipping the bike’s tank our engineer expected to find thick diesel in place of petrol, but instead, there was no odour or colour to the fluid at all… He bravely dabbed his tongue with the liquid – it then became apparent that the bike had been fed 5 litres of water into the petrol tank! No surprise it wouldn’t go!! The engineer got to work, and once he fully drained the tank and flushed the fuel system with unleaded the bike choked a little before restarting – the owner was ecstatic! Without our assistance, he would have been sat in the crew cab of a recovery truck going home through the night and having to wait for his bike dealer to give him the bad news the following day..

SO the moral of the story is ALWAYS CHECK what you’re putting into your petrol tank, especially if it’s from an unknown source. By simply pouring a cup full of the contents from the jerry can into a container would have shown them, it in fact was water and would have stopped water being put into the petrol tank.