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by admin, February 28, 2022, Tips

Putting the Wrong Fuel in Your Car – What to Do.

How many times have you grabbed the diesel fuel instead of the regular fuel pump, or vise versa? We’re all in a hurry rushing and getting gas is never fun. Especially in the winter months. Putting the wrong fuel in your car can lead to some big issues and expensive repairs. There are ways of fixing this issue. Here are some solutions to putting diesel in a gas tank, ethanol in a gas tank, and how to fix things when there’s water in your gas tank.


Putting the wrong fuel in your tank can be very dangerous to you and your car

 Gas engines make use of spark plugs to ignite the fuel, whereas diesel’s power generates heat through compression – each is made to function using specific fuel types, only. A misfuelling mistake can cause a serious amount of damage to the fuel system of both diesel and gas-powered cars. Gasoline and diesel are very different in composition and application, and as a result, the engines they power are built very different as well.


Diesel into gas – this is less common since most diesel nozzles are too large to fit into a regular gas tank. If for any reason it did fit you will see a lot of smoking, you can drive a short distance, but eventually the engine will seize up. Best not to drive it and have it towed to your nearest trusted mechanic.

  • Diesel sinking to the bottom of the gas tank and injected into the intake manifold or cylinder can result in deposits or residue on the pistons, valves, and spark plugs
  • Blown head gasket as a result of hydro-locking in the cylinders
  • Diesel in the exhaust system can ignite in the catalytic converter and is an expensive repair job if it ends up blowing


Gas into Diesel – Much worse than the reverse since Diesel contains lubricants such as oil mixed with the gas and gas is a solvent.

  • Premature detonation: Putting gas in a diesel tank will lower the remaining diesel fuel’s flash point by a significant margin, leading it to ignite too soon, and cause serious engine damage.
  • Fuel system damage: Diesel fuel works almost like engine oil in a gas engine – it is used to lubricate various components in the engine. Gas, on the other hand, is thinner and can dissolve other substances, meaning it does the opposite – friction leads to wear and damage of fuel injectors and pumps.
  • Fuel sensor damage: The excess soot and heat caused by running the engine can cause important fuel sensors to get damaged and not feed the correct information to the car’s ECU, resulting in even worse performance.
  • Reduction in performance: There will be a significant decrease in performance due to an incomplete or compromised combustion cycle. A mix of these two fuels will make the car’s ECU compensate by adjusting the air to fuel ratio, reducing performance.


Running Ethanol/E85 gas in a regular gas-powered car

This is pretty hard to mix up, but it happens! Ethanol is an alcohol made from corn, sugar cane or other biomass, E85 is a flex-fuel comprised of 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline. This won’t cause any serious issues but if you do top it off with only the Ethanol gas due to its corrosive nature, especially over time, as aluminum, rubber, and magnesium parts will slowly start to erode on cars not meant to run on E85. You can modify your car to accept this fuel but is very costly.


Premium Gas cars running with regular gas

It won’t seriously damage the vehicle, but to attain the maximum performance out of an engine, it is highly recommended to use the correct octane rating. If you hear engine knocking, then you most likely are using the wrong grade of gas and your cars’ performance will decline.

Water in the gas tank – You will know if there is water in your tank by watching for these signs

  • Sputtering or idling
  • Sudden increase/decrease in power
  • Bad fuel economy
  • Refusal of the car to start at all


To solve this issue:

  • Use fuel driers made to remove water from gas tanks
  • Siphon out the gas tank
  • Leave the tank empty for a while to dry out
  • Call in your local mechanic, if at all possible, for the best results

How can we prevent putting the wrong fuel in our car and should we do?

  • If you drive a diesel car with a similar gas tank opening to that of a gas-powered vehicle, you can fit a diesel fuel tank insert that only accepts diesel nozzles. Alternatively, a sticker or fuel cap with the type of gas printed on it can be helpful, too. Install a misfuelling device to your car.
  • Always double-check what nozzle you’ve inserted into your gas tank before you start pumping gas and check to see what fuel your car needs (that is a no brainer).
  • It is imperative that you do not start your vehicle after filling up with the wrong type of fuel. Running the engine for even a few minutes can cause serious issues, especially on diesel cars that have been filled with gas. If you’ve already started the car inadvertently, turn it off and move to the next step.
  • Get someone to push your car out of the way, without starting it, in preparation for towing it.
  • Get your insurer or a trusted mechanic to tow your car to the nearest shop.


Most shops will drain your tank and refuel, as well as flush the system. Leave to the professionals.


Tri County Collision Center wants you to stay safe on the roads. If you need any help please give us a call at 215.322.5350 or just stop in if you’re in need of auto collision services.

Tri County Collision Center is an ASE / I-CAR® GOLD certified auto body shop located in Southampton, PA. Call one of our technicians today to learn more about our collision repair and auto painting services. We are OEM certified collision repair facility for INFINITI, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Acura, Honda, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Dodge and Jeep.

Tri-County Collision Center is conveniently located near the PA turnpike, Route 95 and Street Road, County Line Road and Second Street Pike at Tri County Collision Center’s shop hours are Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturday by appointment. We would be happy to supply you with an auto repair quote online or over the phone and we always welcome comments and suggestions.

Need a tow or a rental car due an auto collision accident? No worries, Tri County Collision Center also provides services for tow, rental car, and insurance claims assistance. You are in good hands with a trusted collision shop in Southampton, PA.