What to do if you’ve put the wrong fuel into your car: AA Ireland

What happens if you put the wrong fuel in your car?

It can happen. You are at the petrol pump, there might be a toddler screaming in the back seat, or you had a fight with your partner or life has you generally distracted. Putting in the nozzle didn’t feel right but it went in anyway. Then reality sets in. It dawns on you that you’ve just put the wrong fuel into your car. You feel that wave of panic hit. “Oh, &%^* – what now?”.

Fuel

Putting the wrong fuel into your car happens more than you might think. This year so far (October 2021) – the AA have been called out to almost 870 motorists (compared to 1,093 for the same period in 2019 and 756 for the same period in 2020 – at the height of COVID restrictions) who have accidentally put petrol into a diesel car, or diesel into a petrol car and while you might think that it is catastrophic, it need not be if you do the right things. 

We spoke to Vijay Gangarh, Patrol Supervisor with The AA about what you can do if you find yourself in this situation. “Should you realise that you have put the wrong fuel into your car, the first thing to do is not to start your vehicle, get the vehicle pushed away from the fuel pump and call us for assistance.” 

So what happens next, what can be done to fix the issue? “AA will drain the fuel out of your car, put an additive in to clean the fuel system and then we will refill your vehicle with the correct fuel and make sure it is all running ok,” says Vijay. 

Are there any additional checks you should do to your car after the fix and is there likely to be any lasting damage? “If you haven’t driven the car, there is normally no damage, but if you have driven your car, there could be some damage, further down the line in the fuel pump, so we would recommend you get the vehicle checked at your garage, get the fuel filter changed and get them to do a final check, make sure the vehicle is running ok and everything else is reading ok, with the sensors,” adds Vijay. 

So what is worse, putting petrol into a diesel car or diesel into a petrol car? “Putting petrol into a diesel car is worse, as diesel fuel acts as a lubricant for the fuel pump, so if you petrol in it washes away the lubricant in the fuel pump and you can be looking at thousands in repairs if you have to replace the fuel pump. Diesel into petrol is not good, it can still do damage – either way, it isn’t good.”

What happens with the fuel that has been taken out of the car after that? “We drain the fuel out, bring it to our base and put it into our explosive proof container and then we get an environmental agency to come and take it out and dispose of it in the proper fashion,” says Vijay. 

So while not nice, misfuelling doesn’t have to be the total nightmare that it sounds. 

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AA Patrol Supervisor Vijay Gangarh.
Video – what happens if you misfuel your car.