What to do if you put the wrong fuel in your car

It can be surprisingly easy to put the wrong fuel in your car. Maybe the pumps aren’t labelled in a way that you’re used to, you’re using a car you’re not familiar with or you’re simply distracted. It can happen to the best of us. In fact, the RAC reports that it happens to up to 150,000 brits every year. So, what do you do if you realise you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car? Don’t panic! And be sure to follow these steps.

Don’t start your car

If you haven’t yet turned the ignition, then be sure not to. Starting your engine is when the most serious damage from misfuelling tends to occur. That means it’s best to avoid starting your car and keeping your key away from the ignition.

The first thing to do is to alert the staff at the petrol station to the situation. Put your car in neutral and push it to a safe place. Call your breakdown cover provider and insurer so that you can have your fuel system drained and flushed.

What if I already tried to start my car?

If you didn’t notice your mistake until after you’d already tried starting your car, there are still some simple steps you can take to try and minimise the damage. First of all, turn of your engine as soon as it is safe to do so. Be sure to find a safe spot to do this in. Put your vehicle in neutral and call your breakdown and recovery to arrange for your car to be retrieved and for your fuel system to be flushed and drained.

What happens next?

Once your fuel system has been fully drained, flushed and the fuel replaced, you will be safe to drive your car again. If you didn’t realise you used the wrong fuel until after you’d started your car and it has then suffered damage through misfiring, your car may need to be towed to a garage for repairs. In the worst case, it’s possible that the entire fuel system will need to be replaced.

Putting petrol is a diesel car vs. diesel in a petrol car

Putting petrol in a diesel car is more likely to cause serious problems than putting diesel in a petrol car. However, in both cases it’s wise to leave your car switched off and have your system drained. The difference is caused by the fact that Diesel cars use fuel as a lubrication oil and when you add petrol, it acts like a solvent and dissolves that important lubrication – leaving your engine vulnerable to damage. When you put diesel in a petrol car, it will coat spark plugs and the fuel system, often causing smoke and misfires.

Putting the wrong fuel in your car is an easy – if sometimes costly – mistake. Try to pay attention when you’re at the pumps and if you do realise you’ve made a mistake, act quickly to help minimise the damage.

Fueling Car