Wrong Fuel in Car – Your Ultimate Guide

Wrong Fuel in Car – Your Ultimate Guide

Over the past 10 years mis-fuelling has transformed from a virtually unheard problem to one of the most widely discussed, and feared, causes of vehicle breakdowns in the UK. This guide has been written in order to address the myths and facts of putting the wrong fuel in your car, and provide clear solutions for those drivers unfortunate enough to have found themselves stranded with a car that no longer works!

Due to the nature of this type of vehicle breakdown there are very few statistics available – it is not covered by warranty, so there are no stats generated by these companies. Equally, vehicle breakdowns recovered by the large motoring organisations have often been filled with the wrong fuel, but because the driver is either unaware or unprepared to state the cause of the breakdown, thus it is reported as an unspecified fault.  However, there is one official statistic produced, and it comes from the AA – 150,000 cases every year.

Having over 7 years’ experience in this niche field of the recovery industry we felt an exhaustive list of FAQ should underpin this guide.


I have put the wrong fuel in my vehicle, what do I do? Can I drive the Vehicle? Can I turn the engine? Will my filter need changing? I have driven my car with the wrong fuel, have I made it worse? How much is this going to cost? What types of repairs are going to be required? Potential damage Fuel type specific – What to do The process of removing fuel

I have put the wrong fuel in my vehicle, what do I do?

Firstly don’t start the vehicle. If you’re at a petrol station forecourt you’ll find the staff are normally sympathetic to your situation as they will have seen this on many occasions. You may even get a push off the pumps into a parking bay! The next thing is to establish if there is a company who can attend your vehicle and remove the fuel without recovering you to a garage. This type of mobile service can be researched from your phone and a good provider should be able to attend within 90 minutes.

Can I drive the vehicle?

Do not drive the car. By running the engine, or driving the vehicle, the incorrect fuel penetrates further into the vehicles fuel delivery system and associated ancillaries. The bottom line is you may make it a certain amount of miles down the road in a mis-fuelled diesel vehicle, however, a petrol vehicle is unlikely to run for more than a few seconds.

Can I turn the engine on?

The same rules as in question 3 apply here. In an automatic vehicle you may find yourself in a situation where you want to start the engine in order to select neutral, and then push the car off a pump, or into a more convenient location. If the situation is critical then this can be done, but switch the engine off as soon as you have engaged neutral.  Because most fuel pumps will be drawing fuel from the bottom of the tank the brief period of time you’re switched (enabling selection of neutral, freeing up the steering lock) will most likely only bring through the remainder of the original correct fuel.

Will my filter need changing?

If the vehicle has been started, it is a wise precaution to change the fuel filter fairly soon after the wrong fuel has been used. When a vehicle has been started after having the the wrong fuel put in the tank, a knowledgeable technician will flush the correct fuel through the fuel delivery system before re starting. Having carried out this process, and the vehicle is driven for a number of minutes, any contaminated fuel left in the filter will have been removed. However, a fuel filter is a relatively inexpensive part (generally £25.00 – £50.00) and simple to fit, usually half an hour to an hour max. One word of warning! If your vehicle is under manufacturer’s warranty take caution. If you go to your main dealer to change the filter they might ask questions about why you want the fuel filter changed. Be wary how you approach this as there have been cases where customers have been told their vehicle’s warranty will be invalidated unless they replace numerous components, including the fuel tank. This type of work will cost a minimum of £2,000.00 and can get into 5 figures depending upon the exclusivity of your car/ motorbike/ etc..

I have driven my car with the wrong fuel, have I made it worse?

Sadly the answer is yes – but dependent upon a number of factors – by degrees. If you are in a modern diesel car by its nature the ancillary equipment is strong and the engines management systems will respond swiftly to changes in the fuel in use, therefore damage can be limited to almost non-existent. However, even with a modern robust vehicle petrol has a corrosive effect on certain ancillaries in a drivetrain designed to run on diesel fuel.

Therefore it is essential to act quickly in order to minimise risk. This is certainly a good example of how a mobile fuel drain unit is preferable to recovery to dealer, where it is quite possible the vehicle might sit in a car park for several days before work commences. With older vehicles the damage will normally become apparent over a shorter distance, and once the vehicle breakdowns it is harder to re start. The most likely ancillaries/ parts to fail will be fuel pump and catalytic converters. Petrol vehicles will quite likely not start – but if they do expect them to run for a few minutes only. Diesel is a much thicker fuel than petrol and is considerably less combustible. It can still be drained and flushed but expect lots of smoke when the vehicle is restarted – there will be plenty of sticky diesel that is burning off. In terms of damage a similar rule will apply, the potential for problems increases the older and higher mileage the vehicle.

How much is this going to cost?

Tough question to answer definitively but there are three general options which one can predict a price range for.

Mobile roadside fuel drain – £175.00 to £300.00.

Recovery to a local dealer and fuel drain – £300.00 to £400.00.

Recovery to a main dealer for vehicle under warranty – £2,000.00 – £10,000.00.

Option 1 has the advantage of swift removal of the contaminated fuel and the ability to carry on with your journey; downside is no ability to address faulty ancillary equipment caused by the mis-fuelling should the vehicle not re start.

Option 2 gives greater scope to handle associated problems should the vehicle not re start; downside is the contaminated fuel will have spent more time in the vehicle, extra cost of recovery and repair and more vehicle down time.

Option 3 gives peace of mind that all equipment associated with the fuel storage and delivery system has been replaced; downside is elongated vehicle down time and high cost.

What types of repairs are going to be required?

As we saw in question 7, a main dealer repair will be completely comprehensive. Parts will include a new fuel tank and connecting pipes, new fuel lines, new filters, new fuel pump (sometimes there will be 2 to replace)and injectors. A local garage will normally drain and flush, however, they can also supply a new fuel filter dependent upon availability. A mobile fuel drain unit will also carry out a drain and flush. Although a mobile unit will not normally be able to change a fuel filter on scene, some will offer a fuel additive as an alternative. These products help to clean, lubricate and dispose of any remaining contaminated fuel left in the vehicles system. More advanced additives can also boost cetane levels increasing combustibility.

Potential damage

As previously discussed, it is very difficult to assess the damage caused as there might not be any symptoms for some time post the incident of mis-fuelling. However, the main components and elements of the drivetrain that could possibly be affected are as follows:

  • Fuel pump
  • Injectors
  • Catalytic converters
  • Contamination of fuel tank
  • Post mis-fuelling, carburettor service
  • Valve guides and valve seats.
This video shows what to expect after a Ferrari Testarossa had its tank and fuel lines drained when the owner put diesel in the tank. It shows the small amounts of diesel left in the cylinder heads burning off after the contaminated fuel had been removed by Auto Fuel Fix.
Play Video

Despite these dangers areas, based upon our experiences over the past 7 years, the majority of vehicles can be successfully drained and flushed, without the need for major component replacement. We are often asked if there are any particular vehicles that cannot be successfully drained and flushed. The only times you are likely to reach a point when a vehicle can’t be drained and re started are if ancillary equipment have been damaged prior to the drain being completed. A regular example of this is the starter motor, which is often repeatedly turned over by desperate drivers attempting to start their vehicle. Otherwise we are not aware of any road vehicle currently available that cannot be drained.

Below is a list of some of the more interesting vehicles we have attended and got back on the road:

  • Ferrari Testarossa
  • Triumph Stag
  • MGB Roadster
  • Honda VTR Firestorm
  • Porsche 944S2
  • Citroen 2CV6
  • Fairline Targa 36
  • Iveco 260 E27
  • Bentley Mulsanne

Fuel Type Specific – What to do

Petrol in diesel. As previously discussed the best course of action is to not start the vehicle. However, with a diesel vehicle sensitivity to the wrong fuel is less so than in its petrol counterpart. Therefore, should you own a very modern automatic car, that doesn’t have the traditional key, and the car must be started in order to take it out of park and disengage the steering lock, a matter of a few seconds with the engine running is unlikely to cause any problems. Call in the services of a mobile fuel drain company who can dispatch an technician to attend and drain the vehicle immediately, and no further action should be necessary. If the vehicle has been driven the same basic rules apply, however, it is highly recommended that a quality additive is included once the contaminated fuel has been removed and the vehicle re started, and for extra peace of mind the fuel filter should be changed within the next few days. For further information on possible damage and symptoms, check out our petrol in diesel car guide and videos

Diesel in petrol.  Again, it is highly recommended that the car or motorbike is not started. In this instance a mobile fuel drainage company, who can attend the scene of the breakdown swiftly, should be utilised to remove all of the diesel. From here the car or bike should be a simple re start. If they have been started, or driven, they will require a thorough flush through once the drain has been completed. This process will normally take at least 50% longer to carry out than if working on a diesel engine equivalent. However, once completed the car or bike should start quickly, initially producing a fair quantity of smoke while any diesel residue is burnt off, then running as before the mis-fuelling incident. For further information on possible damage and symptoms, check out our diesel in a petrol car guide and video

information on possible damage and symptoms, check out our diesel in a petrol car guide and video

The Process of Removing Fuel

The removal of contaminated fuel from most vehicles can be essentially be achieved by either the roadside mobile unit method, recovery to a garage depot or recovery to a main dealer service centre.
Method  1. A mobile fuel drain should comply with a number of stringent safety standards in order to operate on UK roads. The kit should essentially comprise of a 250 – 300 litre specifically designed storage tank, usually built into a Ford Transit or equivalent van. This will be built to UN compliance standards and thereby specifically designed to hold explosive substances. In tandem there will be two pumps that are also specifically built to handle petrol and diesel. These units must be ATEX compliant – an EU directive defining the build specification required for machinery involved in handling explosive materials. There will then be numerous other pieces of ancillary equipment including booster starter packs, spill kits, provision to supply clean fuel once a rescued vehicle has been drained, etc. Finally, there will be a series of metal braided hoses, with various designs for the tip, which can be securely fastened to one of two extraction pipes. The technician will be fully trained to use this equipment and should also have undergone a 2 day training module with Safety Passport Alliance. This provides the technician with the skills and presentable evidence enabling him to work in a petrol station. Once on scene he will cordon off the mis-fuelled vehicle with cones, select the appropriate braded hose, and then access the vehicles fuel tank/ tanks via the filler neck. The Removal process should take no more than 15 minutes. Once this has been achieved the vehicle will be supplied with enough fuel to re start. The driver is then able to carry on their journey. If the vehicle has been started or driven, prior to attempting the re start, the technician will flush the fuel lines with the correct fuel then provide the fuel and re start. Method 2. Once the vehicle has been recovered to the garage depot (often belonging to the recovery operator who has collected you from the petrol station/ roadside) a mechanic will either utilise a static pump to remove the fuel or, more likely,  remove the tank and manually drain the contaminated fuel. The tank would then be re attached and enough fuel provided to start the vehicle. Method 3. Once the vehicle has been recovered to the main dealer’s service centre an analysis of the parts required will be carried out. It will then be parked in their parking area until there is an available slot in their schedule, and the relevant parts have arrived. The normal turn-around time is 5 working days.

After the fuel is removed it will be stored in a bunded tank that belongs to an Environment Agency recorded, waste producer licensed company. They will then collect the contaminated fuel and supply it to a refinery that will carry out various processes in order to separate the constituent parts.

Due to the strict EA rules relating to hazardous materials it is not possible to provide the driver with the contaminated fuel that has been removed from their vehicle.

If you have made the mistake of putting petrol in a diesel car or diesel in a petrol car, don’t take the risk. Make use of our roadside 24 hour wrong fuel recovery service by calling us on 0844 879 4770 and find out how quickly we can get you back on the road!

70 thoughts on “Wrong Fuel in Car – Your Ultimate Guide”

  1. Very useful guide thanks very much.

    I’ll make sure to share it with our car club members as this will come in very handy 🙂

  2. Hi
    I was silly enough to put £30 of unleaded in my Mercedez C220 61 plate. I then drove it about half a mile. When I returned to the car it would not start and then I realised what I had done. I called out roadside fuel doctor for £140. They drained the tank and put some additive in with the £10 of diesel they put in the car to get me going. I didn’t see him do any more than this. It started after a few seconds and drives perfectly since. The only problem is it takes a lot longer to start now with about 7 seconds turning over.( more so when cold) I phoned the company on day 2 and they said this was normal and would disappear. It’s day 4 now and still the same.
    I have put An extra £20 of diesel in since ( as per instruction) and am hoping when I fill up it may help the situation. Do you know if this is normal and if it will fix itself.

  3. Hi Dave. It sounds like your Mercedes still has a small percentage of contaminated fuel in its system. Your car has a saddle tank so the best method is to remove the rear seat and fuel sender to gain access. This way you can be confident that all of the contaminated fuel has been removed. Did you watch fuel doctor when they were working on your car and notice how they sucked the fuel out? Either way, the fact your car does start, and runs normally once running, suggests that they have only left a relatively small amount of the mixed fuel in your car. As such I would recommend filling the car to the brim and adding a quality fuel additive. AFF use BG244, an American made fuel system cleaner which cleans the diesel injectors and removes carbon deposits from the combustion chambers. This will restore performance and smooth engine idling. After following these measures you should notice a return to normal starting by the time the tank of fresh diesel has been finished. Hope this is helpful. Bruce

  4. Hello
    This is reallly very informative Article anf i must it is going to help lots of people………..

    Thanks For sharing with us

  5. Help I pumped e85 in a Ford flex Vaughn just got it yesterday. Already. Drove the car and now the engine light is on but car runs good

  6. My step son filled diesel into my Fiat 500 petrol and managed somehow to drive it 48 miles. He stopped returned to the car and then realised he had wrong fuelled it. The RAC sent a contractor who has removed the diesel, I presume flushed it and refuelled it with £20 petrol. I intend to change the fuel filter as you recommend. But we are on holiday for two weeks when it won’t be used, is there anything else I should consider doing before I go? Such as a further additive, and which one would you recommend ?

  7. I have to say I’m surprised your step son managed to drive any distance having put diesel into a petrol engined car – however, the good news is that diesel does not have a corrosive effect on a petrol engine. Now its been removed and flushed the replacement of the filter is all you should need to do to

  8. Car servicing Birmingham

    Great post guys! It’s a bit shocking but sometimes it’s just a genuine mistake although I can understand why most dont admit they’ve done it and just carry on driving until it’s caused damage! I’ve seen it happen with quite a few new drivers before- I think something like this post is good though as it really educates people on an issue that is easily neglected. We don’t have our own blog so will happily be sharing the link for this/sending people over here to have a read if that’s ok? – Thomas

  9. Put petrol in my volvo xc90 by mistake yesterday..car stopped after driving 0.5 miles,RAc took it to volvo garage and they repaired it today for 350pounds..it is back on road and working well…
    Local home drain team said they would do the job for 140 pounds but as the car is still under warranty I decided to go with the dealer..
    I read your article yesterday and found it very informative and helpful to decide where to get it repaired.Thankyou very much..

  10. Hi Satish. Glad you found our site helpful. I think you did well getting your XC90 repaired at a main dealer for £350.00 – they often want to replace all of the fuel related components, which runs into thousands of pounds..

  11. HI there, great guide. A slightly different angle to my question. I refuelled our 2013 BMW 318d estate with diesel in germany and drove 850 km over 2 days before the car shuddered to a halt. Breakdown service suggested fuel pump problem and it’s now at main dealer waiting diagnostics. The fuel was definitely diesel, I’ve kept the receipt, from an Esso garage, not some unknown truck stop. Is this just an unrelated fuel pump problem or is german diesel a different grade ?

    1. Hi Stuart. I’m sure you’ve since handled this question and I must apologise for not seeing it until now. Diesel is diesel throughout Europe so if you have evidence that that was what you put into your BMW I would certainly take this to your dealer – a 2013 car should not require a new fuel pump. If you don’t receive help at dealer level I suggest you take it to BMW UK. Good luck. Bruce

  12. Very useful guide. My initial panic evaporated after reading this guide. Thank goodness for smartphones nowadays so we can Google on the go! Thanks for the recovery yesterday. Highly recommended.

  13. I put £10.00worth of diesel into an empty tank which normally takes petrol I was told by car hire company it was a diesel model. im told my fully comp insurance doesn’t cover the cost of roadside draining. is this true?

  14. Hi Sophie. Firstly, apologies for the slow response to your question. I’m afraid fully comprehensive insurance does not automatically include mis-fuelling cover. However, there are several companies who are now offering this type of cover and we are associated with an insurance company who are about to launch a product called Fuel Protect. If you’d like further information please feel free to email me directly on bruce@autofuelfix.com

  15. I thought I was going to have to fork out hundreds or even thousands when I put half a tank of petrol in my diesel Discovery.
    When I realise what I’d done my heart sank. The lady in the kiosk told me not to start the engine and suggested I use my smartphone to Google for a company that could drain the tank and I found autofuelfix.
    Thanks to your technician I was back on the road in under an hour.
    Fantastic service. Thank you!

  16. Ive just put £50 of unleaded in my diesel astra whay can i do? Have drove it home till i realiaed and it toik ages to start

  17. Hi Caz. I suggest you have it drained and flushed asap – the longer the petrol remains in your cars fuel lines, pump and filter the more damage it will do. Feel free to call 0844 879 4770 to arrange for one of our engineers to attend your car. Bruce

  18. Hi Bruce, I put a diesel in gasoline car. I drove for 1 mile and car stopped. I got towed it to the nearest service station.
    The mechanic flushed and drained the system and changed all 4 sparking plugs. And asked me to drive 30 miles so that it ignites all bad gas. He charged me around $250. Now I am seeing engine check now symbol in my car. Is some thing wrong.

  19. Great guide with regards to putting the wrong fuel in car. I recently had the misfortune of putting the wrong fuel in my car, well to be honest it was the wrong fuel in my husbands car, I managed to put petrol in his diesel car.
    It was a normal organised morning where everything was going to plan… Um ok, it was the usual rush around, get the children ready for school, breakfast and out of the door..
    To my annoyance my car wouldn’t start and I had 10 minutes to get them to school. Luckily my husband was away with work (where a colleague had collected him), so his car was also on the drive. Great, I got in his car and off I went.
    With 20 miles left being indicated on the display, I pulled into a local garage, put in £20 of petrol and went to drive home. Less than 1 mile later a poorly sounding car made me have a shock horror moment, I’d just put petrol in a diesel car, I couldn’t believe I’d put the wrong fuel in my husbands car and my stomach instantly flipped!
    So whats my point of this post, well I looked on Google and found this post with regards to putting the wrong fuel in your car. I read through the information (well skipped through) and called the number, where I was greated by a very helpful gentleman who reassured me you could help.
    A fuel drainage expert was out within half hour and I was up and running in under 30 minutes once he’d drained the car of the contaminated diesel with petrol and gave me enough diesel to make it back to the garage. He also informed and showed me the new service you offer (Fuel Protect) which I thought was very reasonable and signed up for, for that peace of mind.
    An overall experience of 100% satisfaction from me and my husband never needs to know of my missfuelling incident (well not until he reads the next bank statement).
    Thankyou Auto Fuel Fix and thankyou Tim who came to my aid!

    I will be recommending your misfuelling insurance to my friends.

  20. Great guide on putting the wrong fuel in your car guys. I have found various conflicting information on other websites such as AA and so on, but none have explained missfuelling and what it can do to your fuel system and engine as well as this and your other guides on petrol in a diesel car and vice versa. I will be pointing other forum users in this direction with regards to putting the wrong fuel in their cars.

  21. Pingback: The link between misfuelling and Porsche Club racing - SkiddMark

  22. I put £20 of petrol in my deisel car and then topped it up with £30 deisel. It drives fine with no problems. I topped it up two days later with another £20 deisel. It is still ok. Should it be drained???

    1. Hi Helen, we generally always advise a drain after any misfuelling incident where you’#ve put the wrong fuel in your car. In this instance if your vehicle is driving fine with no problems after putting the wrong fuel in your car do the following:
      1. Fill your cars tank to its maximum capacity with the correct fuel
      2. Add a good fuel additive which is designed to clean your fuel and injection system
      3. Don’t let your fuel tank get below 1/4 of a tank for 3 or 4 fill ups

      Doing the above should see you having no further issues in the future. I hope this helps and I’m glad you found our wrong fuel in car guide helpful.

  23. Hi
    I have a 2005 1.8 tdci Transit connect,
    My low fuel light came on and i pulled into fill up but made the error and pit 10 ltrs worth in without realising, drove off and engine management light came on under acceleration in 5th gear it was then the penny dropped and i noticed my error… pulled into next station [10 miles down road} and brimmed to full on higher grade diesel and added diesel additive the management light did not re-apear and i completed my journey with no issue { so far} it also started this morning ok and seems to be running fine, do you think ive just been lucky or could i have problems ahead.
    I will continue to brim with higher grade diesel and add another dosage of additive when i get to 3rd of tank so just hoping, any advice or guidance on whether i should get system drained or would i have experienced the symptoms by now?
    Thanks for any help you can offer in Advance

  24. Hi,
    I have a 5 series 3 litre automatic BMW.
    Today I put in 3.1/2 litres of unleaded petrol before realising my error. I then filled the car with 54 litres of diesel.
    I have driven it about 10 miles and all seems OK. Should I have the car checked over?

    1. Hi Andy,
      You have firstly taken the right course of action after putting the wrong fuel in your car by topping up your diesel tank to maximum with the correct fuel. We would recommend using a quality fuel additive to clean through your fuel system and only allow your fuel tank to get as low as 50% for another 2 top ups back to maximum, so the wrong fuel and the petrol in the diesel is diluted as much as possible. Also change your fuel filter as soon as you can. If you do experience any running issues, consult a local garage or get your fuel system flushed through by a reputable wrong fuel specialist.

  25. My car won’t start Kia Soul tempest and now I’m thinking did I put diesel in it or unleaded I normally always put diesel not it but as its not starting I’m thinking I didn’t how can I tell I’ve been driving locally around for 3 days and no problems ?

    1. Hi there Tracy, Apologies that we did not get back to you sooner. Did you manage to get your car sorted? Had you put the wrong fuel in your car?

  26. Hi,

    I did fill up my car (KIA Sportage) with petrol twice on a 140 mile return trip. Upon driving first half I stopped after which car wouldn’t start. The rescue guy came and kept turning key until the car started…. Then he said it’s probably because the car is low on petrol. I found this quite strange as it wasn’t critically low but topped it up regardless (with more petrol!!!!!) and drove back. The car was a bit shaky and making noises but I managed to get back. It then hit me that I have been filling up my diesel car with petrol!!!! I had just returned from holiday where I rented petrol car and I guess I was still in the petrol mode. I immediately called for someone to come and drain my car and refill it with diesel. So it was done and my car started within less than a minute of turning the key. It worked for a while and when the rescue guy turned it again it started immediately. He said there should be no issue and the car seems to work smoothly. He did advise to change the fuel filter ASAP but said otherwise I should be fine. Since I have driven such a distance I do worry though that I have done some damage. Should I be taking it to the service ? What could be the potential damage that will come through later? What signs should I be looking for? I am worried that by taking car to garage I will lose the warranty

    1. Hi James, Petrol in diesel car is a very common mistake. A small service could be prevalent, or at least a fuel filter change to make sure that the wrong fuel has not damaged any of the fuel system components when it was driven, however if you are not experiencing any troubles since the fuel drain then you may have got away with having misfuelled and our advice would be to just get the fuel system looked at when you get a chance. For more infomation and a more detailed explanation of the knock on effects of misfuelling and what do in the event of putting wrong fuel in a car, check out our wrong fuel guides and out specific petrol in a diesel car guide. Hope this helps.

  27. Thank you for a quick replay. It seems I get mixed messages. I asked in my local garage if it is possible to check if any damage can be done and was advised its not possible without dismantling the engine. .. What do you mean by “a small service”? I have ordered the fuel filter. Thank you for the advise & the article is great.

    1. Thank you Paul. It is always nice to hear great feedback. Putting the wrong fuel in your car, escpecially petrol in diesel is a common mistake. Really happy to hear that our advice has been helpful.

  28. Hi

    As with everyone else here – I’ve put unleaded petrol in my diesel car. It had about 20miles of diesel left in it then I put £30 of petrol in. I did this last night then drove the 1/2 mile home. It struggled to start this morning and I’ve left it to see about recovery. Will the driving home and the volume of petrol cause expensive damage – I’ve seen conflicting reports on the sort of costs involved from reasonable draining and filter replacement to all the engine parts? Any advice gratefully received – it’s a Volkswagen Tiguin 2ltr diesel – many thanks


  29. Hi there, absolutely devastated here! We just got a current ford focus on contract hire 10 days ago and I’ve filled it with petrol (it’s a diesel!) and driven it 2 miles along the road eventually breaking down. It has been towed to the local garage where it won’t be drained until tomorrow now, they have ordered a new fuel filter from ford to arrive tomorrow also. Will there be a lot of damaged caused if they leave it sitting overnight?

    1. Hi Caroline,
      Sorry for the delayed reply, I hope you got your car sorted ok after putting the wrong fuel in your car. So long the ignition isn’t switched on (priming the pump) then the fuel will indeed just sit there in your tank, filters, fuel lines and components. The garage should have drained the tank, fuel lines and injectors completely of all contaminated diesel, flushed the system through and then installed the new filters, hopefully your car should have then started once filled with clean diesel again.

  30. Hi, I think I have put Petrol in my diesel car and drove it about 120klm home, had no problem untill i had to stop to at daughters house when i got into my car to start it, it had problems starting after a couple pushes of the starter button it started and ran fine again to home, I tried it again when I got home and the same. So would it possible that it might of been just dirty fuel.

    1. If you had filled up your diesel car with petrol your vehicle would stop running after a period of time. It should tell you on your receipt what you did fill your diesel car with, if you have any doubts and if it was only a couple of litres of petrol in your diesel tank to top it up, fill your tank to the brim and use a good diesel additive, once your tank is half full, fill it again to the brim to make sure the contaminated diesel with petrol is diluted so it doesn’t cause any possible future damage. If you are concerned you have put in a fair bit of petrol in your diesel car, then seek professional advice from a fuel technician.

  31. I made the fatal mistake of putting unleaded in my diesel car on Saturday evening on my way home from a lovely night out. Oh no, I thought – now what?! Who do I call and then I’ll probably have hours of waiting for someone to turn up and fix my problem? But then along came Ahmed Bania from Autofuelfix. He called me on the way to let me know he would get to me as quick as he could, arrived within 90 minutes of my call for help, put me in a safe place, drained and flushed my engine and then made sure I was ok to set off home. Throughout his time with me he made me feel he was really bothered about my situation and a bad mistake ended up being an unexpectedly positive experience. Thank you Ahmed and Autofuelfix.

  32. Hi

    Really helpful article – thanks. I’m just looking to buy a car – the person I am buying from seems very legitimate.

    I asked him if he’ d had any issues with the car (59 plate s max diesel) – he said none at all, and laughingly mentioned that he’d put petrol in it by mistake a few years back, and had it flushed etc. He realised my concern at this disclosure!

    I guess my question is how soon after a re-fuelling incident any issues are likely to present? If no problems have developed from a few years back, would this suggest no lasting damage?

    Any thoughts you have much appreciated.


    1. Hi Simon,
      If the person selling the car had put the wrong fuel in the car and had it drained professionally, and has had no issues with the running of the vehicle since the incident, it sounds like you should have no problems. When the wrong fuel is put in a car, if it’s petrol in a diesel car, the moving parts in the fuel system are not lubricated and it’s the moving parts which rub (like the fuel pump) which can initially suffer from damage. Any damage to a diesel engine which has been misfueled with petrol all depends on how much was put in and how long the engine was run before it was realised, this then determines how far the petrol got in the system and how much time it had to cause any damage. As I say, by the sounds of it, if he’s telling you the truth, he had misfuelled it, had it drained and flushed professionally and has had no problems in a few years.. I cannot say for 100% but it sounds like he took the right course of action to ensure little to no damage had been done.
      I hope this helps ease your mind on this purchase.

  33. First time I’ve made this mistake and put almost 6 litre in ontop of my 5ltr reserve, slapped myself and checked google. Saw a forum where people were saying it wasn’t a big issue if it was a small amount. I filled the rest with diesel and drove 30 odd miles then have done more searching and seen all this.
    Do you think I would get away with a decent fuel additive and fuel filter swap? plan to keep it as full tank for some time now, surely the amount of diesel will prevent the petrol from causing damage?

    These are the two additives I have found are these good?
    liqui moly diesel purge

    1. Hi Tiernon,
      You’re doing the right thing after putting the wrong fuel in your car. Yes, get a decent fuel additive (a good local motor factors should be able to recommend one) and for your peace of mind change your fuel filter, which you should be able to do yourself on most cars. After a few tank refills, you should have diluted the petrol in your diesel tank enough to remove any potential problems or damage.

  34. Hi
    I put petrol in a diesel car drove it for few minutes then once I relised I parked up on the side got it drained the guy said everything would be fine but I just have to add more diesel and no problem. But for some reason whenever I start the car it struggles to turn on, what should I do its BMW 520 D 2015 reg only done 30k

    1. Hi Sam,
      Sorry to hear you put the wrong fuel in your car, ideally if you put a lot of petrol in your diesel car, the guy should have flushed your fuel system through after draining your tank. The first thing I would recommend if you’re still having issues, is change your fuel filter, fill up your tank with diesel and use a good fuel additive to help clean your fuel system. If the problem persists and you’re sure this has only occurred since your misfuelling incident, I would suggest either a professional fuel system flush through, or get a reputable garage to run some diagnostics.

  35. Hi,
    Put 60 pence of petrol in my Seat Ibiza TDI before realising my error stopped fuelling, then put £10 of diesel in, (it already had a quarter of tank of diesel before error), then drove 90 miles with no issues and fuelled with diesel full to the brim. Drove a further 30 miles with no issues, do i have to drain and flush, or will the small amount of petrol i erroneously put in make a significant difference? I have a Seat Ibiza 1.6 TDI 2012 plate.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Steve,
      Sorry for the delayed reply, i see you’ve only put a small amount of the wrong fuel in your car. You shouldn’t have to take any further action, or cause any damage to your vehicle. If you want to play on the side of caution, just use a good fuel additive the next time you fill up, and change your fuel filter on the next service. But in all honesty 60 pence worth of petrol in a diesel car with a full tank should not cause any issues now or in the future.

  36. Hi there I put Petrol in my Mitsubishi shogun sport as soon as I started it it bellowed out smoke. After having it removed it struggled to start and still smoked. When I first start it in the morning it wouldn’t miss a beat. If for example i went to start it 5 mins over turning it off it would struggle to start and smoke badly. About a week later it overheated right up to the red and the smoke out of the exhaust was that bad it looked like thick fog!! Once it cooled I got it home then the next morning it won’t start at all!! Have no idea what is wrong or what’s damaged. Thanks in advance.

    1. I would say initially it sounds like you could still have petrol in your diesel fuel lines and engine which would need professionally draining and flushing. Though the fact that later it overheated up into the red with lots of smoke out of the exhaust, it could possibly be a head gasket. Check your oil and water to see if they’ve mixed and I would get a mechanic to have a look.

  37. hi, i basically put £25 worth diesel in my car and drove it about 15 minutes without realising, made it home then called the breakdown. they took it to repair on the 23rd dec, 2 days ago they called me to say it will cost me £1000 to fix, but then realised it was diesel in a petrol car. then they called me to tell me they dont know if they have to but it may cost £4000 instead because they may need to change everything. then they ask there technicians to only tell be it would be £1440 in total for change in injectors, new fuel delivery unit, flush tank, fuel line. i then agreed to this amount, however got a call to tell me the car would start they put new plugs in also but nothing, they checked to see maybe there is pressure in the engine but there isnt and engine was good. now i am worried because i feel like they are mugging me off by spending more time on it bare in mind they only flushed the fuel out today. am i being ripped off by mercedes as they only just flushed the diesel today
    My car has 32000 miles. My car has a manual transmission.

    1. Sorry to hear about your situation of putting the wrong fuel in your car. If you drove your vehicle after putting £25 worth of diesel in it, I presume you had a significant amount of petrol in the tank already as the vehicle continued to run? In any instance of putting diesel in a petrol, you should get the tank, fuel system and engine flushed out and then flushed through with clean diesel, also a new fuel filter should be fitted. Usually diesel In a petrol just causes components like sensors, filters, spark plugs and injectors to become clogged, once flushed and cleaned, the vehicle usually starts (though sometimes initially difficult) and then a white smoke can be seen for a while as it burns off the remaining diesel in the system, as seen on our video of the Ferrari on our wrong fuel in car guide.

      It’s always difficult to comment when we cannot see exactly what’s happening with the vehicle, but a professional flush through usually rectifies the situation in our experiences. However it is not unheard of for vehicles to require further replacement of parts

  38. Hi, last weekend we managed to put nearly a full tank of diesel into a petrol car and drove a mile and a half before we noticed. We had it drained and drove it the 180 miles back home with no problems. I have used it for a week without an issue, making sure to keep it above half tank of petrol, but the amber ‘check engine’ light keeps coming on, and the garage suggests it could be a problem with the catalytic converter, which could be fixed by putting a fuel treatment in the tank. The light went off for a day, but is now back on. Do you think it has caused permanent damage to the catalytic converter? The car has done 80,500 miles in total and is 7 years old.

    1. Hi, Sorry to hear you put the wrong fuel in your car. With diesel in a petrol, the diesel can cover sensors and other parts which can cause issues and false readings. I would suggest getting your cars fault code log read and see what fault codes it is showing, remove and clean sensors which are showing possible issues and then replace. Clear fault codes and see how you get on.
      If there is any residue left by the diesel in your system it can give all types of errors with the cars sensors, try getting your fuel system flushed through professionally and there are various engine cleaning services which could possible remove any contamination which may be causing the issue. A good quality reputable garage should be able to advise accordingly.

  39. Kevin

    I put 15 litre of diesel in my petrol car with less than quarter tank. I did not start the engine and had the tank drained straight away. He recommend changing the filter asap. Is it necessary? Do I need to get it checked? Thanks.

    1. Hi Mei,
      In this case of putting the wrong fuel in your car, I would recommend a good petrol additive into your tank to help clean the residue that may be left behind from the diesel and yes I would also advise changing the fuel filter in this case, as it should be a relatively low cost item to have changed.

    2. Hi Mei, sorry to hear you put the wrong fuel in your car. With diesel in petrol, the diesel can leave a residue in your fuel lines, filters and engine. I would recommend a good petrol additive to help remove the residue and fuel filter which should be relatively inexpensive to change.

  40. Azeem Mohammed

    Hi I have a Volkswagen Passat Estate 2009 highline TDI 2.0 litre. I have accidentally put £20 petrol in this diesel car and after 2 days it would not start then after a couple of minutes I managed to get it started and went to the petrol station and filled up the tank with 50 litres of Diesel and also added Diesel treatment. I then drove it for about 50 miles during that week and no problem, but suddenly i broke down and white smoke was coming from the exhaust and had to call RAC. they had asked me if I put the wrong fuel in my car and at that time I was 100 percent sure that I had put Diesel in the car. They said my turbo had gone or injectors as the engine was knocking so they towed it to my house. I then got someone to take my vehicle to a garage to check whats happened, the mechanic found that petrol was in the tank so he cleared everything out and put nee diesel and changed fuel filter and engine oil to try and make this work. The vehicle managed to start but white smoke is still coming out of the exhaust and engine is still knocking. He rekons I need a new engine. Is it better to wait for a couple of days mate to see if it could go back to normal???

    1. Sorry to hear you put the wrong fuel in your car!

      It is very difficult to determine the cause of the actual problem, however we think its safe to say that the use of the vehicle after putting in the wrong fuel has most likely caused this problem. Certainly the symptoms described would point to a turbo or engine failure of some description, however the most common problems caused by missfuelling are fuel pump and injector failure’s, if a fuel pump or injector were to fail the repair process and costs would hopefully be less than a damaged turbo or engine, the problem is determining exactly what has failed, many garages will not go through a thorough diagnosis process and simply assume the worst based on the fact you have used the vehicle with the wrong fuel.

      We feel your best option would be to initially have the injectors and fuel pump tested professionally, the knocking noise could only be ‘diesel knock’ suggesting a failed injector, the smoke could just be as a result of a lean running engine or contaminants in the vehicles exhaust system. If those elements are tested ok then I would have to say that engine damage is the likely cause, the vehicle running on petrol and diesel mixed could potentially have cause the engine to overheat and operate outside its normal tolerances, thus causing possible oil seal and perhaps bearing failure in the engine and or turbo.

      I am afraid to say that you are now faced with a costly repair bill regardless of the outcome. We hope that the engine and turbo are ok and the damaged is limited to an injector failure.

      Good luck!

  41. Azeem Mohammed

    Thanks. The mechanic has checked the injectors and they are working fine. He also said that the turbo is fine but he recommended me to drive the car smoothly so it clears the engine and stops the knocking noise. I will just have to try this method first and then see what happens.

  42. I put around £2.00 worth of petrol in my Mercedes CLK220 CDi around 3 weeks ago! I topped it up around £40.00 of Diesel and drove it with no problems. I have driven it around 600 miles since then, but recently the car started juddering at around 30 mph and then losing power after around 30 minutes on a long drive. Now uncertain if this is related to the petrol, or a separate issue completely! Anybody experienced something similar to this?

    1. With only £2.00 of wrong fuel in your car I would say these problems are unlikely to be linked, however it is not impossible. Without physically seeing the vehicle it is impossible to diagnose, ideally the vehicle will need to be taken to a workshop and plugged into a diagnostics machine to determine what is causing the lack of power. If the mis-fuelling has caused this problem, then I would expect a diagnosis report to suggest the fuel pump or fuel injectors are failing.

  43. Hi, I put roughly 5 litres of unleaded into my diesel Vauxhall Insignia, which had about 10 litres in it, when I realised I filled the tank right up ( another 55 litres ) I work in the middle of the countryside and had no mobile signal, so I had to drive the car, done 40 miles, what should I do now ?

    1. Hi David, If you managed to top up with the correct fuel after realising you put the wrong fuel in your car without starting your engine, that’s good. We would recommend topping up your tank to full once it goes down to around 1/2 a tank and add a good fuel additive. Once you have done this a couple of times, as a precaution change your inline fuel filter. In our experience you should experience no further problems or difficulties.

  44. I am sure I filled my diesel up with £34.50 of diesel at a Tesco garage, black hose and trigger.
    Had only just had a new engine fitted after compression issue.
    Drove for about 3 miles before loss of power and difficulty revving engine above 1500 rpm.
    Is this likely to be misfuelling as I am 99 % sure I put diesel I. , unless the pump had the wrong fuel in, which I know Tesco has happened before

    1. This doesn’t sound like the kind of symptoms if you’ve put the wrong fuel in your car, I would advise that you have the garage who provided the engine to have a look at your engine. Maybe the reconditioned engine (I’m guessing) has developed a fault or there may have been an error when they carried out the work, this can happen. But my guess is this is not a case of putting in the wrong fuel, but an engine fault. If you had put in the wrong fuel it wouldn’t only effect certain gears, you mention it reverses fine but no power in any other gear.
      Get on the phone to the garage who supplied the engine and get it check out.

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