Over 150,000 people put the wrong fuel in their car each year. It can happen to any of us, at any time, and usually at the most inconvenient of times! Whether its due to a slip of concentration or a recent new car, putting the wrong fuel in your car can be extremely dangerous and you need to act quickly!
Do not switch the engine on or put the key in the ignition.
Petrol nozzles are smaller than diesel nozzles, so this is an easy mistake to make. Petrol in a diesel fuel tank can damage your fuel system. Within the car, diesel works as a lubricant as well as a fuel source and keeps the fuel pump and other parts running smoothly. Petrol acts as a solvent when mixed with diesel and has the opposite effect. Petrol in a diesel engine increases friction and causes damage to the fuel lines and pump. Starting your engine starts circulating the fuel and can cause serious damage.
This isn’t as common as diesel pump nozzles tend to be larger than petrol fuel necks however it does still happen. Luckily, the impact of diesel in a petrol car isn’t as severe as the other way around. Diesel has to be compressed to ignite and petrol is ignited by a spark. When diesel is in a petrol engine, usually it will clog the spark plugs/fuel system and the car won’t start.
Don’t panic! Many drivers who have started driving with petrol in their diesel car, have only noticed they’ve used the wrong fuel when their engine starts stuttering and stalling a few miles down the road. The engine can then be drained by a recovery company without long term affects to the engine. However, you should stop the car and have the engine drained as soon as you notice something is wrong. Action should be more urgent for diesel cars with petrol in the tank as it can cause serious and expensive damage to your car. If you have realised you have put the wrong fuel in a diesel car you should stop immediately in a safe place, turn off the engine, remove key from the ignition and call a recovery or breakdown company.
1. Do not start your engine.
2. Don’t put the key in the ignition.
3. Put your car in neutral.
4. Tell the garage or petrol station attendant what has happened.
5. If possible, ask someone to help you push your car to safety or the garage may cordon off your car, depending on the location and circumstances.
6. Call a recovery vehicle or your breakdown company to assess the damage. In some cases, they will be able to drain and flush your fuel tank on arrival or they may take you to the nearest garage for further repairs.
If you have breakdown cover, most policies will take you to the nearest garage or your home. You may need to pay additional charges for draining the tank or additional repairs. Some breakdown policies do offer drainage services too. Check your policy to see if you are covered. In terms of insurance cover, some policies do include misfuelling in their cover however it usually doesn’t come as standard. You may be able to claim for drain and fuel under ‘accidental damage’ on your policy however it is best to check the small print of your policy before making a claim.