Wrong Fuel! What You Need to Know

When you visit a typical fuel station to fill up your vehicle’s petrol tank with fuel, you’ll notice that each gas pump lets you choose from three or four different fuel options.

These options may include Regular Unleaded (91), Unleaded (95), Premium Unleaded (98), and Diesel. You need to select the appropriate option for your vehicle before pumping the petrol, or it could cause problems for your engine.

For example, if you drive a vehicle with a petrol-powered engine, you’ll need to choose one of the three unleaded options. Most people like to save money by selecting the regular unleaded option because it is the cheapest. You could potentially extend the life of your engine if you choose 95 unleaded or premium, but it is not required.

Either way, your engine won’t suffer severe effects if you accidentally put in regular instead of 95 unleaded or premium. But if you add diesel fuel to a vehicle with a petrol-powered engine, it could cause severe damage to the engine.

Unfortunately, diesel pumps are no longer separated at different dispensers like they used to be in the old days. It is much easier to make a mistake at the pump because diesel fuel pumps now share the same fuel dispensers as unleaded petrol fuel pumps. Since the demand for diesel fuel is growing, gas companies decided to place the pumps together at the same dispensers to accommodate more motorists.

Therefore, people are increasingly making the mistake of choosing the diesel option rather than the petrol option and vice versa. Even though each pump is labelled appropriately, motorists don’t pay enough attention to what they are doing. Instead, they grab the closest nozzle, push the button, and pump the fuel. The mistake is not usually noticeable until they get halfway down the road and the symptoms of the wrong engine fuel begin to show.

What are the signs of petrol fuel in a diesel-powered engine?

Petrol fuel nozzles and diesel fuel nozzles have the same shape and style. The only difference in their appearance is their colours. Diesel nozzles typically have a green colour, while the unleaded petrol nozzles are red, yellow, black, or blue. It all depends on which gas station you visit, making it even more confusing to motorists.

Diesel fuel acts as a lubricant in the diesel engine and fuel system. If you accidentally add petrol fuel to a diesel vehicle, the high-pressure diesel fuel pump will suffer significant damage because petrol is a solvent rather than a lubricant.

Without the proper lubrication in the fuel system, it will cause poor acceleration due to weak engine power. Then, if the fuel is not drained and replaced immediately, your engine could suffer irreversible damage.

Hopefully, you’ll notice the mistake before starting the ignition. If so, you can call a professional towing service like Executive Towing Services to transport your vehicle to an automotive service centre. Once it arrives, the auto technicians can flush out the petrol fuel from the diesel fuel system and replace it with diesel fuel.

But if you have already turned on the ignition and started up the engine, you’ll have much bigger problems because the petrol fuel has probably entered the engine. The amount of damage inflicted upon your engine will depend on how long you drive your vehicle with petrol fuel running through the system.

If you keep driving until your vehicle starts losing power, it may be too late to save your engine. The best-case scenario is that you’ll only have to replace your fuel pump, fuel injectors, and fuel filters. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll have to replace your engine, which means thousands of dollars in expenses.

What are the signs of diesel fuel in a petrol-powered engine?

The consequences are less severe if you add diesel fuel to a petrol-powered vehicle. Besides, most people don’t make this mistake because the dispensers have three petrol options and one diesel option.

As a result, there’s a 75% chance of pulling a petrol nozzle at the dispenser if you’re not looking carefully. However, some people still make the mistake of putting diesel fuel in their petrol-powered vehicles accidentally. If it happens, it won’t cost as much money to remedy the problem in most cases.

When diesel fuel is in the petrol engine of a vehicle, you may see a weaker performance and some white exhaust smoke coming out of the tailpipe. The more diesel fuel added to the fuel tank, the more exhaust smoke you will see come out.

The extent of the damage to your petrol fuel system and engine depends on how much diesel fuel you added to the fuel tank. If you only added a small amount and then immediately realized the mistake at the pump, you should add a lot more petrol fuel afterward. The excess petrol fuel may dilute enough diesel fuel to prevent engine performance problems.

On the other hand, if you added a lot of diesel fuel to your engine and started driving your vehicle, you should pull over and stop driving as soon as you realise the mistake. Then, call Executive Towing Services and have your vehicle towed to a nearby automotive service centre to get your petrol fuel tank drained of its diesel fuel.

Depending on how long the diesel fuel was in the petrol engine, the only thing you’ll probably have to replace is the fuel filters. It is less common for engines to get severely damaged when diesel fuel is added to petrol engines. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the reverse.

Do You Need a Tow?

If you realise you have added the wrong fuel to your vehicle’s fuel tank, the first thing you should do is pull over and turn off your engine. Next, contact a professional towing company like Executive Towing Services and get your vehicle towed to the nearest automotive shop for repair.

Your engine may be salvageable if no severe damage has been inflicted yet. The auto technician will attempt to drain the fuel from the engine and fuel system and replace it with the appropriate fuel. Most of our clients are successful in this endeavour because they quickly contact us for assistance after they realise their fuel pumping mistake.