Everyone makes mistakes, and gassing up your car with the wrong fuel does not have to spell disaster. Stay calm and take immediate action to fix the situation to avoid paying high repair costs for damage to the engine from running diesel instead of unleaded fuel or vice versa.
However, if you accidentally used a premium version of your usual gas, you’re fine to drive normally and just pay closer attention the next time you are at the pumps. Here’s what to do immediately if you just put diesel instead of unleaded fuel or vice versa in your car.
What to do after gassing up with the wrong fuel
Filling up with the wrong fuel will cost you at least the price of a full tank, but it’s possible to minimize the cost of repairing this mistake. Follow these steps to right this wrong as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Step 1: Do not start your car. You don’t want to draw the wrong fuel into your engine, causing costly damage. If you need to move your car away from the gas pumps, ask an attendant or onlooker to help push your car out of the way.
Step 2: Locate the fuel drain of your car. Only take the time to do this if you have access to enough buckets or containers to catch the contents of your gas tank.
Your best bets to find this information are in your owner’s manual or by conducting an internet search on your phone.
Step 3: Place a container under the fuel drain. It is hazardous to simply drain gas onto the ground because of the risk of fire and release of chemicals into the ecosystem.
It’s also difficult to stop the draining process until it is finished, so have several containers in easy reach.
Step 4: Remove the drain plug. Most drain plugs unscrew and others pop out. Be prepared to wait a while because draining all of the fuel out of a tank is not a quick process.
Bear in mind you will not be able to replace the plug until all the fuel has drained out.
Step 5: If you cannot locate a fuel drain, call for help. Not all vehicles have a fuel drain, and removing the wrong fuel from your car will likely require more materials than you have on hand.
Call a tow truck to take your car to a qualified mechanic to siphon or otherwise remove the wrong gas from your vehicle.
- Tip: Even if you drain the fuel out of your car on your own, it’s advisable to have the fuel filter changed to prevent bits of the wrong fuel from accidentally entering your engine.
Filling up with the wrong fuel may be an unfortunate interruption to your day, but it can be fixed with the proper action and a level head. It is also worth telling your insurance company about the mishap. While any needed repairs are not likely to be covered, you may be reimbursed for the cost of the tow truck if you have full coverage.