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

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Don’t panic!

You’re not alone; at least 150,000 drivers put the wrong fuel in their vehicles each year, that’s one every three-and-a-half minutes! – Already you’re starting to feel a little more at ease.
Whether you have recently changed your vehicle to a different fuel type or were simply distracted and not paying attention it’s a simple mistake to make and many of drivers do this, even police officers!

What is important is that you stay calm and don’t make the problem any worse – make sure you follow the 3 crucial steps below and take on board our friendly and helpful advice.

Once you have realised that you have made the mistake of filling up with the wrong fuel.

  • Stop fuelling up straight away
  • Estimate how much of the wrong fuel you put into your tank whether it was a whole tank 100%, half a tank 50%
  • Do not turn the ignition or start the engine as this will only circulate the contaminated fuel and increase the risk of damage to your vehicle – If you have to move your car, try pushing it to a safe place.

If you try to start your vehicle you will probably only get a few miles down the road before the car decides to conk out, the likelihood of your engine then starting up is low.

Time is of essence when the wrong fuel is put in, the sooner you can arrange for the fuel to be removed and your tank flushed through the better. A high percentage of mis-fuelling accidents can be successfully drained on the roadside but its best to wait for a fully trained fuel assist technician to give his verdict on what he deems best.

The RAC and the AA both offer a professional and comprehensive fuel patrol service where their experienced technicians will be able to help and assist you.

Petrol in Diesel

The number of diesel cars on the road today has significantly increased, and as a result this is by far the most common type of mis-fuelling due to the petrol nozzle being smaller than the fuel filter neck on most diesel cars. A simple mistake, which could end up costing up thousands to rectify.

Diesel fuel systems are far less tolerant of the wrong fuel being pumped in, because they operate on very fine tolerances and are lubricated by the diesel fuel itself.
When petrol is mixed with diesel it acts as a solvent which in turn reduces lubrication causing severe damage to the pump through metal to metal conduct.

Diesel in Petrol

This type of mis-fuelling is far less common because the standard diesel nozzle is larger than the fuel filter neck so unless you really push the nozzle in this error should be pretty hard to accomplish, however some people still amazingly seem to do it!

If you do manage to make this mistake you will be glad to know its no where near as catastrophic as putting petrol into a diesel engine.
Mis-fuelling with diesel doesn’t generally cause too many problems unless driven – the tank will need to be drained as the contamination fuel will lead to incomplete combustion.

If you’re looking to buy a new diesel car, we can help! Browse our car database for a list of cars we can source for dealers, or if you can’t find what you want, get in touch and we can source a car for you!

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