In 2004, whilst on holiday in Cornwall, I accidentally put about £19 worth of unleaded in my diesel car. Realising what I had done, I did not start the engine. I called Green Flag and explained problem. They said, as it was a Sunday, they would take me back to the caravan site where we were staying, then collect me on Monday and take me to a garage that would remove the fuel. They told me to expect a charge by the garage of about £150.
The caravan site owner, who was also a friend, and a heating engineer, told me to have the car put on his private parking area, and he would help me to clean out the tank next day. I removed the tank's sender unit and we syphoned it virtually dry. Then he took me to collect some diesel.
I took the two containers of the diesel/petrol mix to the local tip, but they would not allow me to pour it into the waste oil storage tank. Trying at a garage was unsuccessful, but they did suggest the local fire brigade might be interested for fuelling training fires. Seemed a good idea, so off I went.
It was a small fire station, and I could get no reply to the bell, but there was an ambulance garage next door, and a mechanic asked if he could help.
When I explained the situation, he said bring it in here, we have this happen all the time, and showed me a drum in a fireproof store that already had a similar concoction in it, and I just added my mixture to it.
I used to, where practical, tow contaminated fuel jobs to one of the local farms. After pumping the old fuel out, the farmer used to thin it down with either red diesel or his petrol and use it in his tractors. This was always done with the agreement of the member, as some would rather pay a garage charge rather than give away the wrong fuel they had just paid for! No, I don't understand that, either - but it was their choice.
I just passed a Silver AA van with Fuel assist on the side in Bristol looked up online it appears they are now providing a fuel drainage service for members and non members with a charge to both.,
Last year I met a fellow caravanner, and we were discussing this. He showed me his answer to avoiding the problem. On the inside face of the outer fuel cap cover, he had fitted a small battery-operated device which was activated when the cover was opened. A recorded voice said, "This is a diesel car".
OK, I've just been reading this with interest. I know NOTHING about fuel, except that one is called petrol and one is called diesel and you put whichever one into your car that the manual says you should. That is my full knowledge of the situation!
So, what would happen then if you drove off with the wrong type of fuel in your car? And would it be more expensive to fix after doing this than if you'd realised before and called for help?
I'm glad I came across this because I guess if I ever make the mistake of filling with the wrong fuel, I will now know not to drive off presumably. Before reading this, if I had filled up with the wrong fuel, I probably would have just driven off and hoped it would "work", like fooling a computer or something.
Apologies if that sounds REALLY dumb - but hey I'm a relatively new driver and nothing like this is ever taught when learning to drive. I guess you just learn from experience. I don't know the science behind it whatsoever.
So what would happen if you drove off with the wrong fuel?
Last edited by 98selitb; 07-03-08 at 18:34.
It does not matter if you put petrol in a diesel car or diesel in a petrol car if you drove the vehicle is would eventually splutter to a grinding halt. If you ever put the wrong fuel in a vehicle it will need to have the fuel tank drained completely.
On some modern diesel if you put in petrol instead of diesel and drive the vehicle you can do some serious damage as the diesel acts as a lubricant in the high pressure pump and can cause the pump to fail, depending on the vehicle this can cost several thousand pounds to put right. It is however very rare for this to happen
Realistically, it depends on the ratio of mix, but petrol is a spirit, diesel is an oil. So a diesel relies on the lubricating effect of the fuel as well as the combustion. Putting petrol in will damage the pump, and cause pre-ignition. If the ratio is too high, the engine will not run. Putting diesel in a petrol, the car will smoke severely, and the plugs will eventually foul. No lasting damage is done to the engine, but you could be in the market for a new cat. So, if you only put a litre or so of diesel in a petrol, you may well get away with just diluting it down by filling with petrol, but it will smoke. If you put petrol in a diesel, it is best to not run the engine, but have it drained asap.
Problem is, although you cannot fit a diesel nozzle into a petrol filler cap orofice (so I am told), you can put the petrol nozzle into a diesel filler pipe (as one of my earlier postings on this thread shows; I've done it!).
Perhaps the answer would be a more sophisticated design to the filler pipes and nozzles, but who is going to take the trouble and expense to pursue this route? When a mistake is made, it is good business for several sections of the vehicle industry, and even helps sell a little more fuel (after cleaning out, the correct fuel still has to be bought).
I agree with you that it would be too expensive to pursue the route of changing the design of the petrol pumps! I doubt the government would allow it...
wrong fuel in car = more tax to Gordon.
It wouldn't be that difficult to change the nozzles. Off the top of my head, I thought out 31mm sided triangular, 30mm square and 32mm round. Just a few mm difference would ensure you couldn't put wrong nozzle in.