• 2023-04-12 09:00:00
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What to Do If You Put the Wrong Fuel in Your Car


Around 150,000 people put the wrong fuel in their cars every year. It’s an easy mistake to make, whether you’re not sure what type of fuel your car needs or whether you weren’t paying close enough attention at the pumps.

Below, we explain what you can do if you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car.

What to do when you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car

If you notice you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car before you start driving, don’t start the ignition. Starting the engine will cause the most damage if the wrong fuel has been put in, so make sure you leave your car switched off and the keys are removed from the ignition.

You should let the staff at the petrol station know that you’ve misfuelled your car. Ideally, you will put your car in neutral and push it to a safe place. The staff may be able to advise the best place to do this.

If you have already started driving and realised you’ve put the wrong fuel in, you should pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and switch off the engine.

If you have breakdown cover, you should call your provider and let them know what’s happened. They will then be able to come and either drain the engine on-site or tow your car away for more repairs. Draining the engine can take a few minutes, but can take longer, depending on the type of car you have. If you don’t have breakdown cover, many providers such as AA or RAC will offer a misfuelling service, but you may pay extra than a member. You should also let your car insurance provider know what’s happened as soon as possible.

Signs you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car

You will often be able to notice that you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car, even if you have already driven away from the pumps.

If you accidentally put petrol in a diesel car, the engine will make a loud knocking sound when you accelerate. You may also notice that it takes longer to accelerate than usual. The exhaust may produce excess smoke and the engine warning light might come on the dashboard. You could find your engine struggles to restart when stopped or might not turn on at all.

Putting diesel in a petrol car is a less common issue, as the pumps tend not to fit in the petrol filler. If you do put diesel in your petrol car, the problems will be less severe, but the engine can still be damaged. If you’re driving with the wrong fuel, you’ll notice that the exhaust may produce excess smoke and the engine might misfire. It could also cut out and not start at all.  

How much does it cost to fix if I put the wrong fuel in my car?

How much it will cost to fix your car if you’ve put the wrong fuel in will depend on the type of engine you have, the car, and if you have switched the engine on or not.

If you notice before you turn the engine on, you’ll only need to pay for the fuel tank to be drained. This will cost around £200-£250. However, if you have driven some way with the wrong fuel, you could be in for more costly repairs. Some scenarios, such as having to replace the entire fuel system, may cost up to 5,000 to fix the damage caused by the wrong fuel.

Some insurance policies may include misfuelling, so you may be able to claim the cost of repair. However, many policies do not include misfuelling as standard, so you will have to check your own policy.

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