What to Do If You Put The Wrong Fuel in Your Car

While filling up their car at a gas station, an individual accidentally put diesel fuel into their gasoline engine. An easy mistake given the diesel pump’s nozzle color was similar to the unleaded one. 

This costly error could result in significant engine damage if the car is started. Leading to a service requirement that includes draining the fuel tank—a process quite likely to be accompanied by a price tag including tow and labor costs. 

It’s a situation that happens more often than one would expect. An oversight that turns the goal of saving a few cents at the pump into dollar signs flashing before one’s eyes. Underscoring the importance of attentiveness when choosing the type of fuel to fill your car with.

Diesel Unintentionally Poured into a Petrol Engine

When you inadvertently pump diesel fuel into a gasoline tank, don’t try to start the car. Diesel pumps typically feature different color-coded nozzles and are larger than those for gasoline to prevent such issues. Yet these accidents still happen. If you made this costly mistake, prepare for potential engine damage and smoke. Avoid trying to ignite the engine, as it is unlikely to start, and the vehicle will need its tank drained. Acquiring this service may see you pay according to the range of service costs. And depending on circumstances, you might need a tow.

Misplacing Unleaded in a Diesel’s Tank

The mistake of fueling a diesel vehicle with gas can be detrimental to your car’s common rail direct injection engine. The fuel system is not designed to accommodate gasoline, and its components. Including the fuel pump, filter, and injectors, are at risk of damage. A tank drained and possibly multiple parts checked will be necessary, often requiring a tow to a service facility. This wrong fuel misadventure is not one to repeat, given the consequences and costs.

Choosing Plus/Premium Instead of Regular

Sometimes, dollar signs and price can influence your choice at the pump. Even if it means using plus/premium in a vehicle that normally takes regular gas. In most cases, as long as the owner’s manual doesn’t specifically prohibit it, this decision won’t do any damage. It may be a preference or driven by price, but if it does happen, the impact is seldom troublesome.

Regular Used When Plus/Premium is Required

Conversely, using regular in a vehicle that requires plus or premium might seem cost-effective. But you might feel a performance pinch. You may experience rattling, decreased fuel economy, or in worst-case scenarios, risk lasting engine damage. It’s critical to adhere to the owner’s manual and its recommendations on fuel types to prevent this mistake which can happen regardless of our good intentions.

Ethanol E85 Mistakenly Filled in Non-FFVs

Lastly, filling up a non-flexible-fuel vehicle with Ethanol E85 is a mistake that’s easy to make if you’re not paying attention. Not all cars are accurately labeled as being compatible with ethanol blends. If you put this wrong fuel in your car and proceed to run your engine. You may note the check engine light flicker, a sign that you need to swap back to regular gasoline. This can be done by topping off the tank with the proper fuel type to mitigate potential permanent damage to your car and safeguard your manufacturer warranty.

In each of these scenarios, the wrong fuel can lead directly to a series of problems, where your initial goal might have been just to save a few cents. Always put some thought into the type of fuel you’re filling your car with; doing so can steer you clear of a costly mistake and keep your engine running as intended.

How to prevent choosing the wrong fuel

In a haste to refuel, it’s not uncommon for someone to mistakenly select premium instead of regular gas due to similar color-coded nozzles. Leading to a mix-up that could end up needing a costly service, where the car’s tank must be drained, possibly incurring tow fees and risk to the engine.

 Such distractions underscore why it’s pivotal to adhere to carrier manufacturer recommendations—found within the car’s owner’s manual. And choose the correct type of fuel, be it regular, plus, or premium, to avoid the expense and hassle of potentially permanent damage to the vehicle’s fuel system, Including the injectors, fuel pump, and filter.

Does insurance cover putting wrong fuel in?

Surprisingly, when you cover your vehicle against theft and damage. The topic of accidentally filling the wrong fuel in your car is seldom a discussion with your State Farm® agent. However, in the bewildering event that you pour plus/premium instead of regular into your tank or vice versa. This slip can lead to pressing the gas pedal down only to find your car sticks in place, you may ponder if your insurance will protect you against the ensuing financial costs. 

Policies typically don’t include misfuelling; however, certain specialty riders can be added to policies to check this box. A spell of personal misfortune taught me that after mistakenly filling my sedan with diesel. The path to recovery started with a dreaded tank drain and tow service, which, to my relief and contrary to common beliefs. Was partially shouldered by my comprehensive insurance after a detailed review.


In conclusion, the repercussions of mistakenly fueling a vehicle with the incorrect type of gas range from the inconvenience and expense of draining the tank and potential towing to more serious concerns. Such as damage to the fuel system or engine. 

This common misstep can occur with various fuel types—diesel in a gasoline engine, unleaded in a diesel tank, plus/premium instead of regular. OR even Ethanol E85 in non-FFVs—underscoring the necessity for attentiveness at the pump. While regular vehicular insurance might not cover such errors, specialized coverage options might mitigate the financial blow. 

Given these risks, it’s paramount for vehicle owners to consistently verify fuel types against their owner’s manual guidelines, ensuring that what seems like a minute oversight at the pump doesn’t balloon into a major mechanical and financial ordeal.


How long does it take to fix the wrong fuel in a car?

Our wrong fuel drain engineers are recorded to arrive on scene with the car, within an average of 40 minutes. This means we can have the wrong fuel in your car drained and the car up and running, within an hour of you putting the wrong fuel in your car anywhere in the UK.

What do you do if you fill the tank with the wrong fuel?

Simply call for a trained technician to come to your rescue at the forecourt, where they will drain and clean the fuel tank, meaning that once it has been refilled with the correct fuel, you should be able to drive away like the incident never happened – albeit perhaps feeling a bit embarrassed!

How do you get the wrong fuel out of your car?

Because the car shouldn’t be left at the pump, it should be pushed in neutral to a safe space to await assistance — the fuel station attendant may be able to help. Once help arrives, the engine will need to be drained, removing all the wrong fuel (now contaminated and not fit for use in any motor engine).

How do you know if the engine is damaged from the wrong fuel?

Symptoms. If you were to start your engine, you would likely hear a loud knocking sound when accelerating. That’s if your vehicle even starts! If it does, you’re unlikely to get far – and it’ll quickly become clear to you that something is critically wrong.

Does insurance cover the wrong fuel?

Draining the tank and refilling with the correct grade is the safest course of action in this case. Damage done to your car as a result of putting in the wrong fuel is not covered under warranty, and your car insurance policy may not provide cover for the mistake either.

What happens when you put the wrong gas in a Benz?

However, filling your Mercedes-Benz with lesser grade gas will reduce performance and significantly influence fuel efficiency if used for lengthy periods, so drive slowly until you can refuel with the right type of gasoline.