Wrong Fuel in Car? Here’s What You Should Do Next

wrong fuel

Warning: If you’ve put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, DO NOT put your key in the ignition or start the engine. DO NOT!

Whether you were distracted or just confused due to a vehicle switch, pouring wrong fuel in car is quite common. Pouring diesel inside a petrol vehicle is particularly easy while filling a diesel tank with petrol is also nothing new. These accidents are quite typical but what matters is how you react. 

What exactly causes misfuelling?

  • Puzzling fuel labels abroad, such as Motorin, Gazon, and Nafta
  • Fuel nozzles with confusing labels
  • Habit can be an issue when switching vehicles like a rental car, second car, company’s car etc.
  • Availability of multiple fuels at one pump which can be confusing
  • Tiredness at night, time pressure, or stress
  • Lack of concentration or distraction

What happens when a diesel tank is filled with petrol?

wrong fuel in car

Most of the current diesel filter necks can easily fit petrol nozzles which make mistakenly pouring diesel tanks with petrol a typical affair. It is also important to note that putting petrol inside a diesel vehicle incurs more damage than vice versa.

Hdi or standard rail diesel engines are especially vulnerable to damage from misfuelling. If excessive damage has been done, you could be looking at getting new fuel tank, filters, pipes, injectors, fuel pumps, and in some circumstances a brand-new engine – definitely not good! 

What happens when a petrol tank is filled with diesel?

The pump nozzle of a diesel tank is larger in comparison to petrol filler necks, which makes misfuelling less typical than filling a diesel tank with petrol. Not just that but the repercussions of accidentally filling a petrol engine with diesel is not that serious. 

Very different methods ignite petrol and diesel. Petrol is ignited through a spark caused by the spark plugs. However, to ignite diesel, it has to be compressed. If you accidentally put diesel into a petrol tank, the most typical outcome is that it clogs up the fuel system along with the spark plugs – meaning that your car will simply not start. 

It’s a real bummer but not as disastrous as the damage petrol can cause to a diesel engine. 

What should you do if you misfill?

Most importantly, do not start the engine if you put the wrong fuel in car. You should not even put your keys in the ignition. If you know your mistakes before starting your vehicle’s engine, here’s what you should do next-

Inform the petrol station about your situation

  • Set your car in neutral
  • Get someone’s help to push your car to a convenient location
  • Immediately call your insurer
  • If you own a breakdown cover, call them-they’ll be able to drain, flush your vehicle and then refuel it.

Can you drive your vehicle?

Completely avoid driving your vehicle when you filled wrong fuel in car. If you drive the car or run the engine, the wrong fuel will penetrate even further into your car’s system. If it is a misfuelled diesel car, you’ll probably be able to drive for a certain amount of miles, but if it’s a miss fuelled petrol car, it will survive just a few seconds.

Can you turn on the engine?

If you have an automatic vehicle, you could be in a situation where you’ll want to turn on the engine to select neutral and then push the car to a more convenient location or a petrol pump after you’ve poured wrong fuel in car. If you’re in an urgent situation, you can do this but turn the engine off as soon as you hit neutral. Most fuel pumps drawl fuel from the bottom of the vehicle’s tank, so the small period that you’re switched on will probably only bring the remaining correct fuel. 

Will you need to change your filter?

If you already started the engine, it is recommended to switch the filter as soon as possible after you’ve filled wrong fuel in car. If a vehicle is started after incompatible fuel has been poured, a good technician will flush the right fuel through the vehicle’s fuel delivery system before starting the engine again. After this process is complete, the vehicle will be driven for a few minutes, and any contaminated fuel left in the vehicle’s filter will be removed. But take note that fuel filter is not expensive and takes less than an hour to fix it. 

Warning! If you’ve got a manufacturers warranty for your car, be cautious! If you approach your primary dealer, they may ask why you need the filter changed. They might inform you that your vehicle warranty will become invalidated unless you change various components as well, including your fuel tank. This can be very expensive.

What if you already drove your vehicle?

Sadly, there are high chances you’ve made your vehicle worse. If you own a modern diesel car, the ancillary equipment will be strong, and your vehicles engine system will quickly adapt to the change in fuel, resulting in minimal or no damage at all. On the other hand, if your vehicle is a modern, robust car, then petrol can have a corroding effect on particular drivetrain ancillaries made to operate on diesel. As a result, you’ll have to respond quickly to minimize the chances of permanent damage.

 If you own older vehicles, the damage becomes significant over shorter distances, and eventually, it will be difficult to re-start. The parts with the highest chances to fail are the catalytic converters and the fuel pump. Petrol vehicles will most likely not start, and even if they do, it will last only a few minutes. Diesel is less combustible since it is a much thicker fuel. So it can be flushed and drained but don’t be surprised if you see a lot of smoke. When it comes to the damage, it depends on how old the vehicle is and the mileage as well. 

Potential damage

As discussed above, it can be difficult to precisely ascertain the extent of damage caused as there may not be any symptoms for a while after the misfuelling. However, the main parts that can be damaged are:

  • Valve seats and guides
  • Carburettor service
  • Contamination of fuel tank
  • Catalytic converters
  • Injectors
  • Fuel pump

What type of repairs will you require?

If you put the wrong fuel in car, your primary dealer will provide a complete replacement of various components. Generally, a local garage flushes and drains but at times can provide you with a new fuel filter depending on availability. If you opt for a mobile fuel drain unit, it will also initiate a drain and flush. Typically, a mobile unit will be unable to change a fuel filter on the spot; some provide a fuel additive as a replacement. These products can aid in disposing of, lubricating, and cleaning any remaining contaminated fuel in your vehicle’s system. If the additives are more advanced, they can also amplify cetane levels which will increase combustibility.

Does your insurance cover?

General breakdown coverage will take you to your home or garage. However, draining the tank will incur extra charges. Some breakdown providers may offer drainage service as an addition with their coverage, so you should check beforehand. If you prefer garages, you can also compare their prices and narrow down the best option. There will be a vast difference in price.

Whether your insurance covers you or not is entirely situational. Some insurance providers consider misfuelling as standard, but this is usually not the case.

However, if you’ve put the wrong fuel in car, you may be able to claim a drain and refuel under the insurance’s accidental damage part. But the tricky matter is that damage caused by the misfuelling is generally not covered.

In any case, call us and we will help you out!

How do you avoid putting in the wrong fuel?

It is easier to prevent putting in the wrong fuel then trying to recover after you have put the wrong fuel in car. The most obvious way is to be more attentive while you are fuelling up. However, this can be easier said than done. 

  • Don’t depend on the color of the nozzle or hose when filling up. Carefully read the pumps fuel grade indicator and trigger label. 
  • If you own a diesel car and worry about misfuelling, purchase a device that can fit into your vehicles filler neck to avoid putting the wrong nozzle. 
  • Focus and avoid distractions when you pull into a petrol pump. For the small duration, keep your phone away and give your complete attention to the task at hand.
  • If you’ve just purchased a new vehicle with a different engine, leave prompts or reminders in the car to decrease the chances of you reaching for the incorrect pump.
  • Another method of preventing misfuelling is to fit your fuel neck with a diesel fuel cap. This will prevent your petrol nozzles from fitting into tanks that they are not supposed to. These caps are created to fit particular models, so be cautious that you choose the correct one. 

Proper precautions must be taken when you fill your fuel tank. Don’t get distracted and pay the utmost attention. For a few moments that you’re distracted, it could cost you a lot of dollars.

want to know the difference between diesel and petrol

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