If this mishap hasn’t befallen you yet, don’t pour scorn on those poor drivers who might make this costly mistake. We are all human, and a lapse in concentration can make us all do silly things. Whether we are in a hurry to get somewhere, or we are still half asleep from the night before, human error is possible when our minds are not operating at full capacity. On the other hand, new and inexperienced drivers might not know the difference between diesel and petrol at the pump. Whatever the case, getting in a state of panic will not help. If you ever find yourself in this situation, stay calm, and follow our advice below. Heck, you might want to pin this article to your dashboard, just in case!

1. Know what fuel you need

It should be common sense, but if you drive a petrol engined car, use petrol. If you drive something with a diesel engine, use diesel, although kerosene is another alternative. If you aren’t sure what you need, check your driver’s handbook. When at the fuel station, it’s easy to spot the right pump. Petrol pumps are generally green and diesel pumps are black. You probably already know this, but before we get onto the tricky part, it’s still good to know the basics.


2. Don’t switch on your engine

Unfortunately, if you don’t realise you have used the wrong fuel, your car will breakdown eventually. Your only option is to call for a breakdown service and hide your embarrassment when the rescue operative realises your mistake. However, if you know you are in error when still at the pump, don’t turn your engine on. The moment you do, the fuel will circulate the system and cause damage to the engine. This will cost you added expense down the line. Instead, call for assistance from the attendant, and wait for a repair service to come and drain your tank.

3. Better to be safe than sorry

You might not need to call out the repairman if you have only pumped a little bit of the wrong fuel into your tank. Experts say less than 5% (around 2 litres)  should be fine, and you should be fine to continue filling up with the proper fuel. Of course, if you are still unsure about how much you have put in, still call for a qualified professional to drain your tank. Yes, it may cost you around £200 to call for somebody, but that’s cheaper than the thousands of pounds worth of damage to your engine if you take the risk.

4. Petrol in diesel and vice versa

Luckily, it’s harder to put diesel into a petrol tank as the pump’s nozzle is wider, meaning it shouldn’t fit. If you do, your car may still break down, but the damage will be less severe. The diesel will coat the fuel system and spark plugs, causing your vehicle to misfire and eventually stop. The more common mistake is putting petrol into a diesel tank. Diesel cars need the lubricating qualities of diesel fuel to operate essential parts of the car, so putting petrol in will cause internal friction and eventual engine damage.

5. Don’t panic

You will panic when you have driven a long distance, and your car breaks down. However, if you have sufficient breakdown cover you should be okay. If you have only driven a short distance and realised your mistake, pull over and call for assistance before further damage is done. Your car may still be okay, and the repairs may be less costly. Even if you’re in a hurry, it usually only takes around 30 minutes to flush the fuel from your car, so never take unnecessary risks while ‘hoping for the best.’ Pulling over and calling for help will save you a lot of money, and you will soon be on your way again, feeling silly but wiser as a result of your mistake.