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LPG bug a taxi turn-off

A MYSTERY bug is stopping Victorian cars in their tracks - taxis in particular.

Already this year hundreds of vehicles have been forced off the road because of a contaminant in the LPG fuel system, taxi owners say. A Victorian Taxi Association spokesman, Peter Garbellini, said half of the state's 3500 taxis had been affected this year.

Investigators say the cause is a "mystery", although it is believed to be a plasticiser used to make rubber hoses flexible. However, despite extensive testing, experts have been unable to detect the source.

RACV spokesman David Cumming said there had been spasmodic problems with fouled LPG in Victoria in the past two years. He confirmed taxi drivers were suffering the most, but said eight months ago "numerous" private motorists had experienced the same problem.

The plasticiser residue affected the fuel supply, making cars difficult to start and prone to stopping when accelerating from a stationary position, he said.

Mr Cumming said it cost motorists about $80 to have their fouled LPG converters cleaned and there was no guarantee the problem would not recur.

Japan had experienced the same problem, but solved it by replacing all rubber hoses used to distribute LPG to stainless steel, he said.

Australian LPG Association general manager Chris Greenhill said the organisation had not been aware of the problem.

An emergency meeting of the industry's LPG committee was called this week after the Sunday Herald Sun told it of the taxi troubles.

He said gas contamination came in "bouts" in Victoria, but did not appear to affect other states.

"There is no logic to it," he said. "There is no reason why it starts and why it stops, or what is doing it."

Mr Greenhill said the organisation continually tested the fuel from refinery to petrol bowser, but could not find the source of the contamination.

He said all three sources of LPG had been affected at some time.

Shell and Mobil produce refined LPG, while the Esso-BHP joint venture supplies natural gas from Bass Strait.


Ahem... Huh? Any comments?

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (, February 26, 2000


Mobile has already provided contaminated fuel
for Jets. I't sounds like the refineries arn't
able to keep track when the fuel is being created
beyond their specs. They should put some embedded
systems in the process to check for quality. Oh,
they already have these in place?

-- spider (, February 26, 2000.

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