Can I fix my car, without recovery to a dealer, if I’ve put diesel in a petrol?

10 July 2013 | Bruce Compton

Another busy weekend – this time with a very exotic motor car needing our assistance – Ferrari Testarossa. Those of you old enough, and those young enough to be into retro US cop shows, will know this car from the Miami Vice series where it became almost as big a star as its driver – Don Johnson. We attended the vehicle Saturday morning to find it had been driven nearly a mile before breaking down, the cause of the problem being a tank full of diesel! I’m very pleased to report that we were able to remove all the contaminated fuel, flush the lines with the correct petrol and then re-start. By all accounts that famous V12 sounded as delightful as ever having got rid of the offending fuel.. and it goes without saying that the cost of sorting out this problem at a Ferrari garage would have been eye-watering!

The job raises an interesting and often asked question –

Can I fix my car, without recovery to a dealer, if I’ve put diesel in a petrol?

Well the answer is 95% of the time yes. And that still applies if you’ve driven it and then break down. The process of flushing through after the removal of the fuel, and then restarting, can take a little longer than dealing with mis-fuelled diesel cars. However, the success rate is still high. The 5% or so that can prove the exception to the rule tends to be older high mileage cars which by definition have more fragile ancillary components, which in turn are more easily damaged by running on the wrong fuel. Catalytic converters are particularly at risk in these scenarios.. but it’s well worth using a fuel drain service before repatriation to a dealer, whatever the vehicle age