What Happens If You Put Diesel Fuel In A Car That Has A Petrol Engine?

Imagine the following scenario. You buy a new car (or a new “used” car) and it happens to have a petrol engine.

In previous vehicles you’ve owned, you got used to driving a car with a diesel powerplant. That’s because they offered superior fuel economy benefits.

But, the petrol-powered model you’re getting is just as efficient as your old diesel car. One thing you need to memorise is never to put diesel in a petrol car engine! After all; it could cause a lot of damage and relieve you of a lot of money at the same time.

Still, what could go wrong if you did fill up with diesel instead of petrol in your new car? Today’s blog post gives you an insight into what might happen if you did.

What damage can diesel in a petrol car cause?

You might think that you’ll turn your engine into an expensive paperweight by doing that. But, the good news is you won’t do any terminal damage to your car.

What happens if you’ve got a tank of diesel in a petrol car? If you turn the engine on, the diesel fuel will coat the spark plugs and fuel system, clogging them up. Your car’s engine will then start to misfire and emit a lot of smoke from the exhaust tailpipe.

In some cases, the engine might cut out and won’t be able to start back up again. Many people have carried out experiments like that to see what happens. On older cars, the damage isn’t so bad because the fuel system is basic in operation.

The bad news is that in newer, modern vehicles, more components in the fuel system get affected. And that usually means an expensive repair bill.

Engine Bay

What should I do if I’ve filled up with diesel instead of petrol?

The first thing you should do is not panic! Even if you’ve filled the tank up, you don’t have a “worst case scenario” on your hands. At this point, you are no doubt still at the filling station with your car.

You need to push the car away from the pumps and to an unused parking space in or near the filling station. That way, you won’t block other motorists from getting fuel for their cars.

Next, you need to call a company that specialises in fuel recovery. They can come out to you and pump out the fuel from your tank, and “flush” your fuel lines. That way, there won’t be any contaminated fuel anywhere.

And what if I’ve already started my engine before realising my mistake?

It’s crucial that the engine hasn’t run for a long period. Extracting the diesel from your fuel system is still possible even under this scenario.

There is one way to resolve the problem if you’ve put a small amount of diesel in your car (say five to ten litres). Assuming your tank isn’t full, the best thing to do is fill up with petrol. The diluted fuel should still make your engine work.

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