What Happens if You Put the Wrong Gas in Your Car?

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  • What happens if I put the wrong fuel in my gas car?
  • What happens if I put gas in my diesel car?
  • What happens if I use the wrong grade of fuel in my gas car?
  • Finding the best car insurance for your car
Putting the wrong fuel in a gas car is unlikely to cause serious damage. However, it’s usually worse to put gas in a diesel engine than to put diesel in a gas engine. Likewise, it’s more serious to put regular fuel in a car that takes premium fuel than vice versa.
The results of the error will vary on a case-by-case basis, but knowing what kind of fuel you added can help you take the right course of action to minimize the damage.
It might feel embarrassing, but using the wrong type of fuel is a common mistake—and mistakes happen.
The important thing is that you take steps to correct the error as soon as you can. To help you through it, car insurance comparison shopping app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about what happens if you put the wrong gas in your car.
(And in case you’re wondering, your car insurance probably doesn’t cover damage or costs from using the wrong fuel in your vehicle.)
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What happens if I put the wrong fuel in my gas car?

Putting the wrong fuel in a gas car is unlikely to cause serious damage, but you could still get stuck with some costly repairs.
Diesel is more likely to cause damage in a gas engine than E85, which may not affect the car at all.

Diesel

The damage caused by using diesel in a gas engine isn’t usually permanent but could easily cost between $500 to $1000 in repairs.
There’s also a good chance that you’ll need a tow to the nearest mechanic. This might be covered if you have roadside assistance on your policy or AAA membership.
Gas and diesel have different nozzles, so it’s usually pretty tricky to mix them up at the pump. It can and does happen, though. The sooner that you can turn off the engine the more likely it is that you’ll minimize the damage. Gas engines can’t process diesel, so your car will shut down on its own once the gas burns out—but that’s not ideal.
If you realize that you put diesel in your gas tank, pull over and shut down the engine as soon as you can. Once stopped, reach out to a mechanic who can drain your fuel lines.

E85

Flex-fuel or FFV cars can switch between regular fuel and higher ethanol E85 fuel with no issues. Even if your vehicle doesn’t have a flex-fuel tank, E85 fuel is unlikely to cause any serious damage.
If you put E85 in your tank, you should be able to top it off with regular gas and ride it out.—just fill the tank a couple more times before you burn off the remaining fuel. If you notice any issues when driving, be sure to call up a professional mechanic right away.
Key Takeaway If you put diesel or E85 in your gas tank, your car might need repairs—but it’s unlikely to cause any serious or lasting damage.

What happens if I put gas in my diesel car?

If you think you might have added gas to your diesel car pull over immediately and shut off the engine. You’ll have to arrange for a tow to get your vehicle to a mechanic. The extent of the repairs will vary, but they could be costly depending on the damage.
Gasoline is more combustible in a diesel engine than diesel in a gas engine, meaning there is more potential for engine damage. Gas also lacks the lubricating properties of diesel and can damage the fuel pump when it cycles through.

What happens if I use the wrong grade of fuel in my gas car?

Depending on the circumstances, there could be no damage or there could be more serious internal damage. It mostly depends on the direction of the mix-up.
Premium fuel is low octane and won’t damage a car that doesn’t need premium. But using regular fuel in a car that required premium could cause damage.

Premium fuel in a car that doesn’t need premium fuel

Nothing will happen if you put premium fuel in a car that doesn’t require it.
Engine computers automatically adjust for octane, so you shouldn’t notice any difference in performance—for better or for worse. The only downside is the extra money you’ll spend at the pump.

Regular gas in a car that needs premium fuel

Ideally, you can top up the tank with premium fuel and drive it off. But if you hear a high-pitched noise or rattle, call a mechanic right away.
The engine computer will adjust the engine’s timing to minimize the impact, but there is still potential for internal damage. Best case scenario, you’ll notice reduced performance and a drop in fuel economy until the regular fuel burns out of your tank.
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Finding the best car insurance for your car

If you accidently put the wrong fuel in your car, you could be on the hook for some unexpected repairs. And if you want to cut back on your expenses elsewhere to offset those costs, get Jerry.
Jerry is a personal insurance broker that lives in your pocket. But don’t worry about buying tiny office furniture—Jerry is an app!
Once you download Jerry, just answer a handful of questions that will take you roughly 45 seconds to complete and you’ll immediately get car insurance quotes for coverage similar to your current plan. Jerry customers save an average of $879 a year. Oh, and we should mention… Jerry is free.
“I am genuinely enthralled with the Jerry app. I went from $224 to $193 a month for the same policy with the same benefits. Using Jerry felt a lot like texting a smart friend who knows a lot about car insurance - and they even handle the paperwork and renewals!” — Satisfied Jerry User
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