Misfuelling – a guide

25 January 2021 | Bruce Compton

Misfuelling is an increasing cause of breakdown in the UK. Often it is not covered under your vehicle warranty and most people who are victim to this unfortunate mistake are ill-prepared and embarrassed by their faux pas.  This guide covers the most basic questions with regard to what to do and what to expect if you have misfuelled your car.


Misfuelled? What to do

Dont start your vehicle!

If you have started your vehicle already…turn it off!

Starting the engine will drive the wrong fuel through the fuel system and could cause damage to filters and associated management systems.  If you are still at the filling station then an attendant may help you to push the car to a non-filling bay where it can be drained or recovered to a garage.  This mistke is more common than you imagine and the staff will probably have seen it before and know what to do.

Call a misfuelling company.

A mobile misfuelling company will be able to attend your vehicle in situ and drain the wrong fuel from your car.  You will be given enough correct fuel to get you on your way.  Professional misfuelling operatives will usually attend within 90 minutes and the price range in generally in the region on £175 to £300.  This is the cheapest and least time-consuming option for you.  If you have realised before the engine is started and the tank is drained on-site, there should be no further damage to your vehicle.  If you have started the engine, providing it was only for a minute or so and not driven, the outcome should be the same.  However,  a replacement fuel filter is relatively cheap and it could be advisable to have yours changed at your earliest convenience.

Realised you misfuelled after driving the car?

Stop in a safe place immediately and turn the engine off!

Unfortunately, if you have driven the vehicle before you realised that you have misfuelled then it is likely that you have realised by the following telltale signs:

  • Misfire
  • Loss of power
  • Smoking exhaust

Driving the vehicle gives the wrong fuel a chance to get around the fuel system and can cause more damage so the sooner you turn the engine off, the better…and the cheaper it is for you.

Call a misfuelling company or roadside recovery.

A mobile misfuelling company may well still be able to drain your vehicle at the roadside provided that you have managed to pull over in a safe and appropriate place.  The car will be drained of the wrong fuel and enough correct fuel replaced to get you to the next filling station.  It is advisable to get you fuel filter changed and have your car checked over by a garage if you have driven after misfuelling.  Fuel pumps, catalytic converters, fuel system valves and injectors are all some of the components which could be affected by misfuelling if the wrong fuel has been driven through the system.  A mobile drainage unit will not be able to carry out any of these changes roadside but may well offer you a fuel additive to help clean and lubricate the system.

If you call a roadside recovery, your vehicle will be taken to the nearest garage to have the tank drained.  They will likely also repace the filters and will check your car over for any damage.  This is obviously far more time consuming and estimated costs are generally £300 – £400.

Recovery to a main dealer under warranty can be well in excess of £2000.  This option however would include complete replacement with new genuine parts of all affected parts of the fuel and management systems.  It could well take a few days.


According to Auto Fuel Fix, the majority of vehicles can be drained on site.

auto fuel fix 

You will find on their website, a fully comprehensive ultimate guide to wrong fuel, covering in detail all aspects of misfuelling.