Add Blue

Our last two tow cars for my beloved Guillaumes have been diesels. They have dragged our Guilaumes around France for 16 years or so. However, even our most recent, which we’ve had since 2016, predates a modern diesel development. Somebody once asked if I’d been using “AdBlue” and I looked at them blankly. “Add what”?” I had no idea what they were talking about but began worrying that I was missing something.

I wasn’t missing anything; neither of our diesels had anything to do with any add anything.

Enter Frodo.

Frodo is a modern diesel and comes complete with not only a diesel tank but also an AdBlue tank. When we collected him we were told that we’d get a warning message that the AdBlue was running low and that we should refill it. Right. Alarmingly, we were also told that, if we didn’t refill it soon enough, the engine simply wouldn’t start and we’d be stranded. Great! “How far will we go before it needs refilling?”, I asked. Much scratching of heads. “It depends on your right foot”. Wonderful!

As a complete novice to this modern bollocks and being fearful of being stranded somewhere with an engine that refused to start, one of the first things I did was go onto a well known sales site beginning with A, ending in N and featuring a Z, to order some AdBlue. Frodo’s onboard AdBlue tank is 20ltr so I bought 2x10ltr containers. I stashed one in Frodo’s lockers so it’d be there when I needed it, whenever that might be.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that AdBlue isn’t even blue, it’s a completely colourless liquid. What is it? I discovered that it’s a 32.5% urea solution in demineralized water, effectively sanitized urine. It has nothing to do with the engine but gets sprayed into the exhaust gases downstream of the engine supposedly cleaning the emissions, making them more green. Piss into your exhaust and clean it up. Why then, for Pete’s sake, is it not called AdGreen? Why AdBlue? What’s blue about it? Nothing.

Some way through our current trip through France, Frodo had completed about 5400kms when up on the dashboard flashed a helpful message, “AdBlue running low, fill up within 2400kms”.

I dived onto the InterWeb. Apparently, 2400kms is the standard warning distance for AdBlue depletion. Weird distance? Well, maybe not, it’s equivalent to 1500mls. AdBlue, though, is German. Go figure.

So, we’ve done 5400kms and could do another 2400kms before being stranded. That means we’re using 20ltr of AdBlue in 7800kms – 4875mls. Say 5000mls for ease, though you’d be stranded by then. So, regardless of the cost of my diesel, I’m adding 20ltr of AdBlue to the running costs. On good ol’ A-z-n 20ltr of AdBlue is £35.

At our next stop I bit the bullet, opened the 10ltr AdBlue container and managed to decant it into the tank. The flagon came with a handy-dandy spout but it took a lot of holding and juggling to get the air to escape and the AdBlue to flow in. It had the desired effect and stopped my dashboard warning bleat.

Enter Rip-Off Britain.

Moving on from Arès to Marciac (famed for a jazz festival), we called in to a very modern Leclerc supermarket and stopped at its fuel station to top up. Some of the pumps also dispensed AdBlue. Very few stations do, at least for cars; many do for HGVs but the nozzle isn’t compatible with cars. Brilliant! The AdBlue was 69¢ a litre.

So, 10 litres of AdBlue in France, €6.90 (roughly £6). 10 litres of AdBlue in Rip-Off Britain, £17.50 – more or less three times the price.

Why is this? It’s pissin’ awful.

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Posted in 2023-09 France

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