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This Is What to Do If You Put the Wrong Type of Fuel Into Your Vehicle

In today’s fast-paced world, we all make mistakes so don’t feel bad if you accidentally fill up your vehicle’s tank with the wrong type of fuel. It happens more often than you would think, and here is what to do if it happens to you.
Refueling 6 photos
RefuelingTDI badge on a Diesel-powered AudiRefuelingType of Fuel NozzlesRefueling
It’s morning, you woke up too late, so you skip breakfast and coffee, rushing to get to work quickly. Once you start your car, you realize that you’re almost out of fuel, so you drive to the nearest gas station. With a thousand things on your mind, you quickly fill up the gas tank and eventually realize you chose the wrong type of fuel.

Even though this scenario sounds unlikely, it happens far more frequently than you would think. In the UK, for example, this mistake occurs once every ten minutes, according to the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). So, what can you do if this happens to you?

To minimize potential engine damage, it’s very important that you don’t start the engine. If you realize you just filled up your car’s tank with the wrong type of fuel before starting it, you’re in luck. Don’t get me wrong, your day will still be ruined, but your car’s engine and fuel system will be fine.

The first thing you should do is notify the gas station staff of your mistake. They will help you move the car out of the way. If you’re a member of a roadside assistance program like AAA, now is the time to give them a call; if you are not a member, call your insurance provider to figure out what you should do.

In any case, the vehicle’s tank must be completely drained, and that is a messy and potentially dangerous task you should not attempt to complete yourself.

If you make the mistake of adding the wrong type of fuel, but you don’t notice and drive away, your car will quickly let you know by making some weird noises and eventually stalling.

The extent of the damage to the engine and/or fuel system depends on the type of vehicle and the fuel it normally uses.

Putting diesel in a petrol car is not as bad as the other way around since it needs to be compressed before igniting. Chances are that the engine does not even start in this case, especially if the fuel level was low before refueling.

In case you refueled a diesel-powered car with petrol, and you start the engine, chances are the complex high-pressure fuel pump will be the first one to fail, followed closely by the injectors.

Diesel also acts as a lubricant, assuring a smooth passage through the lines, pump, and injectors but add petrol instead, and its solvent properties will eliminate any form of lubrication.

The major problem is that these parts are very expensive, compared to those used by petrol engines and the whole system will need to be disassembled and thoroughly inspected.

So how can you avoid this dreadful mistake? Well, the obvious answer is to pay attention and double-check what type of fuel you’re about to put into the car before pulling the trigger.

Generally, green nozzles are for gas, and black ones are for diesel. Most cars have labels on the inside of the fuel tank door that specifies the type of fuel it needs.

To summarize, make sure to check and double-check what type of fuel you’re putting into the car or just let the gas station staff handle it, especially if you have a diesel-powered car. If you do make this mistake, it’s important not to start the engine and get assistance as soon as possible.


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