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wrong fuel in your car
Put the wrong fuel in your car

Wrong Fuel In Your Car – Around 150,000 motorists every year fall victim to the costly mistake of putting the wrong fuel in their car, whether it’s petrol in a diesel car or diesel in a petrol car. However, the crucial first step to take in either case is to avoid starting the engine.

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

Many people have accidentally put the wrong type of fuel in their vehicle. It is particularly common to put petrol in a diesel car, but it’s also possible to mistakenly fill a petrol tank with diesel.

If you suspect that there’s been a misfueling with one of your vehicles, you know there has, or you simply want to know more about the prospect so you can guard against it, then this article is for you. We’re going to run through how the wrong fuels get used, what the consequences are, how you can respond to it, and how you can guard against misfuelings. Let’s get to it.

How the wrong fuels get put into cars

There are three main reasons why a driver or pump attendant might select to put the wrong fuel in your car when refueling:

Firstly, they might be confused by labelling: new fuel labels have been rolled out this year due to a government initiative, and though the goal is to ultimately make things easier, it’s easy to see how someone who’s simply picked Unleaded for years (even decades) might be unsure when asked to choose between Diesel and Petrol and just choose the one they assume to be correct.

Secondly, they might drive multiple cars on a regular basis — or have recently started driving a new car — and have the wrong idea about the requirements of the car they’re trying to refuel. They might believe it to have a petrol engine when it actually has a diesel engine, for example. And yes, they should notice in time, but they might not.

Thirdly, they might simply make the basic mistake of picking up the wrong fuel nozzle without really thinking about it. If someone is in the middle of a lengthy journey, they might take every opportunity to relax between drives, leading them to zone out after stopping for fuel. While this shouldn’t happen, the reality is that we can all make very silly mistakes like that.

It’s less likely that someone will put diesel into a petrol engine because of the disparity in pump nozzle sizes: the petrol nozzle is small enough to go into the diesel filler neck, but it’s typically hard to fit a diesel nozzle into a petrol filler neck. Even so, it can happen in some cases.

Let’s find out what happens when you put the wrong fuel in your car.

1. When you put petrol in a diesel car

This situation is far more serious than putting diesel in a petrol car. Diesel cars use the fuel as a lubricant preventing any wear and tear and ensuring the engine runs smoothly. When petrol is mixed with diesel, it acts as a solvent by dissolving the lubricant.

If the engine is turned on when the wrong fuel is used, the ignition distributes this mixture, increasing friction between the different parts and damaging them. Some of the parts that are at risk of being damaged include the fuel lines and pump. So, repairs can become very expensive as you would then need to replace the entire fuel system.

2. When you put diesel in a petrol car

This situation is far less serious than putting petrol in a diesel car. After the engine is turned on, the diesel in the petrol car will coat and clot the fuel pump and spark plugs which would result in an engine misfire. You’ll notice excessive smoke coming out from the exhaust and the engine will cut out and fail to start.

The symptoms of wrong fuel in your car

How can you tell if the wrong fuel is in your car? If you have diesel in a petrol engine, it either won’t start or will have trouble starting, and with a healthy fuel gauge it should be clear what’s happened. In the event that it starts running, the engine may periodically judder or display other deviations from standard performance.

And if you have petrol in a diesel engine, you can expect significantly-impacted performance, with the effects getting worse the longer it runs. At some point, the engine will likely fail altogether, though this does depend on its age, design, and tolerance levels. Here are a few guidelines to follow when you put the wrong fuel in your car.

#1 most important rule is, DO NOT TURN ON THE IGNITION

Turning on the ignition can cause the most serious, permanent damage to your engine that will cost a lot to repair. So, if you have realized your error before starting the engine, this is what you should do,

  • Keep your engine turned off and take the key off the ignition.
  • Alert the staff at the petrol station
  • Shift the car into neutral
  • Push your car towards a secure place
  • Call your mechanic or have the vehicle towed to flush and drain your fuel system.
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider.
Already turned the ignition on?

If you only realized you put the wrong fuel  in your car after starting the engine you should,

  • Immediately turn the engine off and don’t illuminate the dashboard lights
  • Alert the staff at the petrol station
  • Shift the car into neutral
  • Push the car over to a safe spot
  • Call your mechanic or have the vehicle towed to flush and drain your fuel system.
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider.
Getting your car fixed after misfuelling

Have your car towed, it is a much cheaper exercise than causing damage to the engine. You need to drain and flush away the contaminated fuel in your car. If you had turned on the ignition before realizing the mistake, the car is likely to have suffered serious damage. Don’t take this lightly, arrange to tow your vehicle to the nearest mechanical repairer and ensure they do ‘drain & flush’.

Please contact us by email, telephone or through our Site if you have any questions about having put the wrong fuel in your car.
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