Put the wrong fuel in your car?

If you’ve put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, don’t worry! It’s an easy mistake to make and happens more than you’d think. You may be tired, driving a different car to your usual one and on ‘auto pilot’, or simply misread the labels on the pump.

Why is it bad for my vehicle?

• Petrol in a diesel engine:

A diesel fuel pump operates on a delicate balance at a much higher compression ratio than in petrol cars, and the diesel fuel lubricates this system. Putting petrol in a diesel car reduces the lubrication properties and can cause metal-to-metal contact, which can result in serious damage to the fuel injection system and the engine. In situations where the fuel has been put in the tank, but the engine hasn’t been started, the system will need to be drained and the correct fuel added. In the case of a vehicle having been started and driven, repairs will depend on the extent of the damage and can be costly.

• Diesel in a petrol engine:

This is less common, as putting diesel in a petrol car is more difficult to do, because diesel bowser nozzles are deliberately larger than petrol ones, so they won’t fit into the filler neck of most petrol cars. Putting diesel in your petrol car does not have the same potentially severe consequences as when the situation is reversed. The vehicle will usually run roughly or not at all, there may be a knocking noise and the exhaust will be smoky. However, extensive engine damage can result from prolonged driving. Therefore, it is still safer not to drive the car regardless of which type of wrong fuel you’ve put in the tank. Depending on the extent of damage, rectifying the issue usually involves draining the fuel, flushing the system, changing the fuel filter and refilling with petrol.
  • Either way, damage done to your car as a result of putting in the wrong fuel is not covered under warranty, and your insurance policy may not provide cover for the mistake.

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

  • Don’t panic!
  • Stay with your vehicle in a safe place.
  • Don’t start your vehicle- don’t even turn the key as this can cause the fuel to be circulated through the fuel system, even without starting the engine.
  • If you have started or driven the car, stop it safely as soon as you realise you have the wrong fuel, then turn off the engine.
Burleigh’s Mobile Mechanic offers a call out service which means on-site assistance – no towing or costly repairs needed. We are a fully insured and licensed service – we know what we’re doing so you can relax, knowing that you’re being helped by the best! We can remove the petrol from your diesel tank or diesel from your petrol tank and top you up with the right stuff. We’ll assist you on the spot and have you back in your car and on the road in no time. Like us on Facebook for tips, information & special offers.