Following on from our article on the different types of fuel, we are exploring what happens if you use the wrong fuel in your car or misfuelling as it is otherwise known as.
What does misfuelling mean?
Misfuelling is when you put the wrong fuel in your car ie you fill up your petrol tank with diesel or vice versa.
According to Green Flag, approximately 150,000 motorists do this every year with catastrophic results.
Luckily there are specialist companies out there trained to deal with these misfuelling incidents including Wrong Fuel Angel and Fuel Fixer. You can call these if your insurance policy doesn’t cover misfuelling or you have forgotten to renew your breakdown insurance with RAC or AA etc.
What to do?
If you realise that you have filled up with the wrong fuel then the first thing to do is to follow this checklist:
- Don’t start the engine (you can see the disastrous consequences in our section “What happens if you don’t realise you’ve put petrol in your diesel tank”)
- Remove anything you need from your car
- Let the fuel station staff know (they are experts on what to do!)
- Don’t turn on your ignition when moving your car at the garage to a safe place as it will prime the fuel pump and potentially start your engine
- Contact your car insurance company to see if you are covered in your policy. Green Flag include misfuelling cover as standard on many of their policies. They will therefore arrange and pay for your tank to be drained, using one of these specialist companies
- You could also contact your breakdown company such as AA or RAC who can drain your car at the roadside
What happens if you don’t realise you’ve put petrol in your diesel tank?
We’ve focussed on this scenario because you are more likely to put petrol in your diesel tank as the diesel nozzle is bigger than the petrol filler neck.
After a while your car will come to a shuddering halt. This is because petrol acts as a solvent and prevents the lubricating action that diesel has on the fuel pump. It is like driving with engine without oil, it will create a high level of friction and tiny metal fragments will end up in your fuel injectors (ouch!).
The petrol will have also entered the fuel lines, and as we said before the petrol acts as a solvent which can eat away at the seals. The petrol will need be flushed through with a cleaning agent and in a worst case scenario some parts may need replacing.
The fuel filter and fuel injectors will also be damaged.
MEB the Motor Centre’s Advice
Since one person every four minutes in the UK misfuels, our advice is to: