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I Put The Wrong Fuel In My Car! What Now?

On Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

We all think it will never happen to us. After all, who would be silly enough to fill the tank with the wrong fuel? It turns out that over 150,000 of us make that mistake every year. It’s easily done. If you’ve just changed cars, or rented a hire car. Maybe you’re just in a hurry, and it slipped your mind. All of a sudden you’re left in an awful position.

Wrong Fuel In Car

The most common mistake is putting petrol in a diesel engine. The reason is that a petrol nozzle is much smaller than a diesel nozzle, so it will slot in without question. On the flip side, you’ll struggle to fit a diesel nozzle into a petrol engine. Regardless of which way you ‘misfuel’, the damage is severe. Petrol acts as a solvent to diesel, which will cause huge problems if pumped around the car. Repairs in their thousands are not uncommon. But, before you panic, here’s what to do.

If you realise before you drive off

Most people realise the problem immediately. Something clicks in your brain while you’re fueling up, or when you sit back behind the wheel. If you realise at this point, you’re one of the lucky ones! You’ve caught the problem before you pump the solvent mixture around the rest of the engine. If it’s confined to the fuel tank, it’s easy enough to syphon or remove the fuel, and clean it out. Tell the petrol station attendant, and then move the car to a safe place (without turning it on!)

If you start driving…

If you haven’t already realised, you’ll find out pretty soon. A car with a petrol and diesel mixture won’t make it more than a few hundred yards down the road. The reaction takes place quickly, and immediately stops the car in its tracks. Try to mitigate the problem by cruising slowly and safely out of the road. Just as you would if you had a car accident. Unfortunately, the contaminated fuel has now been circulated around the engine and parts. You’re looking at replacing the pressure pumps, the tank, the injectors, the filters, and the line rail.

Call for assistance

At this point, you should immediately call for roadside assistance. If you haven’t yet turned the engine on, the process is relatively straightforward. There are dedicated wrong fuel recovery services out there, with all the tools you need. They’ll quickly drain the contaminated tank. They’ll also check the filters and fuel lines. Lastly, they’ll fill you up, test it, and let you get on your way. If the contaminated fuel is already circulated, they’ll tow your car to a safe place to repair.


Make sure it doesn’t happen again!


Trust us, you’ll only ever make this mistake once! Every time you fill up, you’ll keep this in the back of your mind. Look out for the most common signs of misfueling. It usually happens when you switch to a new car. Double check the colours, and even use the magnetic testing strip on the back of the nozzles.
It can happen to anyone, at any time. If you find yourself with the wrong fuel, take action immediately!

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