What to do when you misfuel your car?

Mistakes can happen easily especially when a person has many things going on inside his or her mind. While some mishaps can be quickly resolved, others require more careful evaluation and just the right actions – or else, disaster may happen.

An example of this would be pumping the wrong kind of fuel into your vehicle. If you happen to have two or more cars in your garage and you interchangeably use them daily, chances are this article will become useful to you. Filling your diesel car with gasoline or vice versa creates a great threat to both you and your finances as well as to your car. This is because diesel-powered vehicles function in an entirely different manner compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts.

gasoline station

While both gasoline and diesel are fuels for internal combustion engines, they don’t work in the same way. Diesel, aside from powering your engine, also acts as a lubricant for the engine itself. So, you wouldn’t want to put gasoline in your diesel car as it doesn’t have the same capability to do that. Instead what gasoline will do to a diesel motor is that it will increase the friction on certain parts of the engine, which will lead to serious damage.

The same can be said in the instance where diesel is put into a gasoline engine, as gasoline is ignited differently as compared to diesel. For diesel motors, the fuel is compressed for it to ignite, while in gasoline engines, a spark is needed for it to combust. The thing is, when you pump diesel into your gasoline car, it will not be able to start because it could cause problems with your fuel system such as clogging. Sure your engine might be able to run for a bit with the leftover gasoline in the fuel lines, but once that runs out the engine will promptly stutter and diesel from the lack of the wrong fuel. 

However, in rare cases, you might commit this mistake given some instances, especially when you got used to pumping a certain fuel on your previous car. If you ever do, don't panic. Remember to remain calm and carefully follow these steps

key in ignition switch

If you have noticed early on that the wrong fuel has been pumped into your car do not start it. Switching the engine on will mix the gasoline and diesel, which if fused will act as a solvent. This will ruin parts of your mill that were peacefully working before. You wouldn’t want an engine replacement, which is probably the worst-case scenario you'd end up in.

What you need to do is take the key off the ignition keyhole and, if possible, have someone help you push your car to a safe spot. If you haven't left the gasoline station yet, call the attendant and tell him or her what happened.

gas station attendant

In the Philippines, we don’t get to fuel our vehicles ourselves. There are these dedicated men and women who attend to fill our tanks. That means it’s rare to misfuel your car but in case the attendant is just on his or her first day, or he isn’t just sure about your instructions, it can probably happen.

So, if you directed him to the wrong fuel, which you realize just after it has been done, call the attendant again so he could assist you with your car. Some gasoline stations have service bays in them, where he could help you push your car to have it drained. Take note that you will have to pay for this service so expect to stay at the gas station for a while as they drain your fuel system of the wrong fuel. 

car stopping

If you have realized that the wrong fuel was put into your vehicle or it’s showing signs of it, it is best to pull over and stop somewhere safe. This will help prevent any more damage from happening to your engine until it can be brought to a service bay for the fuel system to be drained. Some people believe that they can still drive home with the wrong fuel in their vehicle– which sounds like a bit of nonsense. Keep in mind that the longer you keep your engine running with the wrong fuel, the bigger the problem you will face afterward. 

As soon as you get to a safe spot, switch off your engine and take the key off the ignition keyhole. Do yourself a favor and don't try to start your car as you call in for help. Now that you're safely stopped, here are the next few things you need to do.

tow truck

Once you have pulled over safely you should call for a tow and have your vehicle brought to a service center.  You may either ask them to transport your vehicle to your home, where you can have your trusted mechanic, or to the nearest service center.

Do note, however, that having your car towed comes with a price. This is one of your most convenient bets in getting out of the said situation.

After you have successfully contacted the towing service of your choice, you may want to reach your trusty mechanic next. Any mechanic you know will do but it’s better if it’s someone you’ve had previous services with. He could help you drain the fuel out and the process may take a precious amount of time depending on how long the wrong fuel has been in your system.

To wrap things up, here are the things you need to remember:

  • Don’t start your engine

  • Inform the gas station attendant as soon as you realize

  • Make sure your car is stopped in a secure location

  • Call a towing service if you’ve already gotten away from the station

  • Call your trusty mechanic

  • Be calm and don’t overreact. It will all be alright

In addition, to avoid future misfuelling, you may opt to put some kind of reminder inside every car you own. If you own a sedan, crossover, and an SUV, which engine types differ from one another, stick a post-it or any kind of reminder in the cabin. It’s always safe to be sure.

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