Misfuelling – how to get your car sorted out
Published 13 October 2015 by Emily Bancroft
Put petrol in instead of diesel? Don’t panic – here’s what to do.
It’s an easy mistake to make – you go to the garage when you’re tired after a long day at work, you’re operating on autopilot and you get a sinking feeling as you realise you’ve put petrol in your car when it runs on diesel. If you’ve just got a new car, it’s understandable if you do this, though that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to try and sort it out.
Misfuelling can be a costly error, not least because you’ve probably just put at least £30 of the wrong type of fuel into your car and now it will all be wasted. Find out how insurance could help you minimise the cost if you accidentally misfuel.
Filling it up
Putting petrol into a diesel car is much easier than the other way around, because the fuel cap on diesel vehicles is usually bigger so that petrol and diesel pumps can both fit into it. It’s also a potentially dangerous mistake, as petrol can cause a lot of damage to diesel engines. This is because petrol erodes the lubricant in diesel engines, and even just driving for a short distance can be bad news for your car. If you manage to put diesel into a petrol car, it’s not likely to be as dangerous, though it could still end up quite costly.
It can be quite expensive to fix if you’ve misfuelled, as you’ll have to get the fuel tank and engine drained by a professional. If you’ve attempted to drive the car before you realised you’d put the wrong fuel in, you could have damaged the engine. This will mean more costly repairs, so make sure you take all the steps possible to make sure you won’t have to pay out in the event of misfuelling.
What to do
When you go to fill up at the pump, just take a second to look at whether you’re using petrol or diesel, especially if you’ve got a new car and you’re still relatively unfamiliar with it. Make sure that you always check your receipt when you’ve paid for fuel as this will tell you what you’ve just put in. A simple device like this one from Think Diesel can help to remind you not to put petrol into your diesel vehicle.
However, if it’s too late and you’ve just realised you’ve misfuelled the golden rule is don’t drive the car and, ideally don’t even start it. If you do this you might “get away” with a bill of £200-£300 to safely drain and dispose of the fuel. Call a breakdown service like AA or Kwik Fit, or a specialist in misfuelling repairs, or get in touch with a local garage. They’ll be able to tow your car to a safe location and drain the tank and fuel system.
If you’ve already started and driven the car there’s a risk that you’ll have damaged some of the engine – which can be more expensive to fix. Again, stop the car somewhere safe as quickly as you can and call in an expert.
Even fairly comprehensive car insurance policies will often exclude misfuelling so unless you made a conscious effort to make sure you’d be covered for it then it probably won’t be included. Some insurers do offer car insurance policies with misfuelling cover, including AA’s Fuel Assist and Green Flag’s Recovery Plus. This means they’ll usually pay to have your car drained so in the event that you do fill up with the wrong fuel, you won’t have a massive payout.
However, you’ll still have wasted all of the fuel you put into your car, and insurance policies with misfuelling cover can be more expensive every month. If you want to make sure misfuelling is added to your insurance, try searching for quotes on a comparison site like uSwitch, as this could help you to find a good deal.