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What to do if you've put the wrong fuel in your car

07 July 2023

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you accidentally filled your car with the wrong type of fuel?

Around 150,000* Brits make the same mistake every year and solutions are out there so the RAC have quoted. Putting the wrong fuel in your car is a common mistake that can happen to anyone which can lead to potential damage to your vehicle and costly repairs. 

Whether you accidentally filled your petrol car with diesel or vice versa, it's important not to panic. Startin Group are here to share a few tips with you if you should ever find yourself in such a situation. 

Step 1: Stop!

The moment you realise you've put the wrong fuel in your car, it's crucial to stop as soon as it's safe to do so. If you're still at the petrol station, inform the staff about the situation.

If you've driven away, find a safe place to pull over and turn off the engine immediately. By stopping, you prevent the wrong fuel from circulating further and causing more harm to your vehicle.

Step 2: Don't Start the Engine At All

Starting the engine will circulate the wrong fuel and could potentially lead to more severe damage. If you've already started the engine and noticed the problem, turn it off immediately.

Step 3: Seek Professional Help 

Call your breakdown recovery service or a specialist fuel drain company.

These professionals have the necessary expertise to transport your vehicle to your chosen service centre or home and may have equipment to safely remove the contaminated fuel from your vehicle. Attempting to fix the problem yourself may cause further damage or void your insurance.

Step 4: Explain the Situation.

When you contact the breakdown recovery service or fuel drain company, explain the situation clearly.

Provide details about the type of wrong fuel you've used, the make and model of your vehicle, and your current location. This information will help the professionals to provide appropriate assistance and reach you quickly.

Step 5: Be Patient

It's crucial to reiterate the importance of not starting the engine again until the professionals arrive.

Starting the engine with the wrong fuel can cause serious damage to your car's engine, fuel system, and other components. Patience is key here, as waiting for the experts will save you from costly repairs down the line.


Putting the wrong fuel in your car can be an inconvenient and potentially costly mistake, but it's not the end of the world. By following the steps outlined, you can minimise the negative impact and ensure a prompt resolution.

Remember, seeking professional assistance, refraining from starting the engine, and taking preventive measures will help you get back on the road smoothly. 

Stay calm, act quickly, and use this experience as a reminder to double-check before fuelling up.


If you have added more than three percent petrol to a diesel vehicle, you might encounter reduced engine performance, stalling, and potentially even engine harm. In such instances, it is crucial to have the vehicle examined by a qualified mechanic to ascertain the level of the damage and whether or not it is safe to drive the car.

If you mistakenly fill your car with the incorrect fuel, the engine will be unable to process it properly, resulting in incorrect functioning. Additionally, using the wrong fuel can cause harm to various components of the vehicle, such as the fuel system and the catalytic converter.

Swift action is crucial upon realizing that you have used the wrong fuel in your car. The most advisable course of action is to refrain from starting the engine and seek assistance. Contacting a professional can provide the opportunity to have the fuel tank drained and the system flushed with the appropriate fuel.

In the worst-case scenario, the engine might require replacement, which can lead to costly repair expenses.

While it is feasible to briefly operate a vehicle using a combination of fuels, it is advisable to refrain from doing so. Even short trips with an incorrect fuel choice are likely to result in significant complications with the engine of your car.

Removing incorrect fuel from a vehicle can vary in duration, ranging from a few minutes to several hours depending on the fuel quantity and tank accessibility. The procedure entails extracting the incorrect fuel by connecting an extraction hose to a drain plug, allowing the fuel to be drained out. Moreover, contemporary vehicles incorporate sealed tanks, increasing the challenge of accessing and draining the incorrect fuel, thus prolonging the process.

If you mistakenly fill your car with the incorrect fuel, you might encounter various indications such as engine misfires, a decrease in power, and a fuel odour inside the vehicle. Additionally, you might notice the scent of fuel emanating from the exhaust pipe. Moreover, the vehicle could exhibit stuttering when accelerating in lower gears.