What to do after putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle

We all make mistakes one time or another. Leaving the hob on, sending an email without the attachment, or forgetting an important anniversary to name but a few. But none rival the sudden stopping power of filling your tank with the wrong fuel.

Believe it or not, it’s a nozzle-caused nightmare for 15,000 drivers across the UK every year. So if you ever find yourself stranded at a petrol station after making such a blunder, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to do.

What to do after putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle

First things first – don’t panic. There are far worse things you can do to your vehicle than put the wrong fuel in the tank. To limit any damage to your fuel system, switch off your engine, put your vehicle in neutral, and don’t be tempted to start your ignition – it’ll only cost you more in the long run.

If it’s safe to do so – and you have help on hand – push your vehicle to a safe area to park and call for breakdown cover. At C R Allen and Sons, we offer a recovery and repair service across the UK with prices starting at £150 + VAT.

What happens if you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle?

Signs for putting the wrong fuel in your tank varies between petrol to diesel vehicles. If you’ve put diesel in your petrol-powered vehicle, you will likely experience:

  • misfiring engine
  • excessive exhaust fumes
  • engine cutting out
  • complete engine failure

Similarly, if you’ve put petrol in a diesel vehicle, you’ll experience:

  • reduced acceleration power
  • excessive exhaust fumes
  • knocking sounds when accelerating
  • engine warning light illumination
  • vehicle struggling to start

Although symptoms are similar for both scenarios, it’s far more costly putting petrol in a diesel car. This is because petrol creates friction in a diesel engine and other vital components.

What happens if you put E10 fuel in a non-compatible vehicle?

As from 2011, all petrol vehicles must be able to take E10 – a type of petrol with 10 percent ethanol. Some vehicles built before 2011 can take E10, but it’s best to check your vehicle handbook to be sure, or visit the E10 compatibility guide.

Even if your petrol vehicle isn’t compatible with E10, it will still run as normal, but there is a risk of long term engine damage due to the corrosive nature of bioethanol.

If you have accidentally fueled your vehicle with E10, it’s best to refuel with E5 as soon as possible.

How long does it take to remove the wrong fuel from your vehicle?

The amount of time it takes to drain the wrong fuel will vary from a few minutes to several hours depending on the make and model of your vehicle. In some cases, it might also be necessary to change the filters and other components damaged by the wrong fuel.

How to prevent putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle

As obvious as it may seem, there are some simple checks you can perform to prevent putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle. When fueling your vehicle:

  • read the pumps trigger label and fuel grade indicator
  • avoid distractions such as smartphones
  • put a reminder sticker on your fuel cap
  • buy a stopper to go in the filler neck

How much of the wrong fuel can you put in your vehicle?

Although a few drops of the wrong fuel might not noticeably affect your vehicle performance, it’s best to get your fuel system and filter checked by a professional. If you’ve added more than three percent diesel to a petrol engine, you will likely experience decreased engine performance and potential stalling.

Does your insurance cover putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle?

When it comes to misfuelling, insurance policies vary greatly and it will depend on what you have in place with your provider. Where some insurance companies won’t provide cover, others might pay for the draining and cleaning of your fuel system. If in doubt, it’s best to check before you suffer the misfortune of paying from your own pocket.

Have you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle? Book your recovery and repair service today by calling 01273 584 987.