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What To Do If You Fill Up With The Wrong Fuel

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We all know not to misfuel our vehicles, but occasionally we are subject to lapses in judgement or concentration – perhaps you are in a rush, confused by a new station layout or just muddled by a new change in vehicle. Whatever the reason, acting quickly and calmly can help prevent your mistake from causing any long-lasting damage to your car’s engine.

What Should I Do?

If you find that you have msis-fuelled your car, it is important that you do not attempt to start it under any circumstances. This will reduce the likelihood of the wrong fuel leaving the tank and being pumped to the engine – something that will prove expensive to repair. You should remove the keys from the ignition immediately and, if you are parked at a refuelling point, get help from surrounding staff. It is important that you do not consider turning your car on to put it in neutral; putting it in neutral is still a risk that should only be taken if moving is an absolute necessity. If you have already started your car, get it somewhere safe and follow the above steps. From there, simply call a breakdown provider — such as AA, RAC or Green Flag — for an assessment of the damage and a fuel drain service.

Signs to Look Out For

Sometimes we may not realise we have miss-fuelled. Some symptoms of a miss-fuelled car include erratic acceleration, smoke from your car’s exhaust and misfires. If you suspect any of the following, stop and call a recovery company to be safe.

What Are the Risks?

It is more difficult to fill up a petrol tank with diesel than vice versa. This is because the nozzle of a diesel pump shouldn’t normally fit into a petrol tank, mitigating potential disaster (although mistakes can still be made). As a result, most misfuelling incidents occur when filling a diesel tank with petrol. By a sorry coincidence, filling a diesel engine with petrol has the worst effect.

This is because diesel fuel lubricates. When using petrol by accident, this increases friction in the tank and car, causing damage to your fuel system, its metal parts and other systems not compatible with petrol. Assuming that you have called a recovery company in good time, you are looking at a minimum charge of hundreds to tow your car to a garage for inspection.
If you find you have damage, the price can run into the thousands depending on how much has been contaminated. You may be looking at a new fuel pump, pipes, a new tank, filters or even a new engine altogether. This is why it is an imperative to minimise risk from the outset by restraining those keys and keeping that car turned off. If only small amounts of the incorrect fuel are introduced to your car, your engine can most likely take it, but you should still get it seen to.

Remember, always double check the nozzle before filling up your car to avoid habit and laziness from sinking in. Stay focused when refuelling just as you would at other times.

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