Wrong Fuel in car

I put petrol in my car my diesel HDi and survived

Sunday 27 May 2012 08:29

Its one of those things you think won’t ever happen to you, but recently I did the unthinkable, and accidentally put petrol in my diesel car. Worse still I have an HDi (common rail) engine, but more about that later. I had a lot on my mind and needed to fill up before taking a relative for a hospital checkup. My tank was almost empty and I put in about 20 litres of fuel then drove home which is about half a mile. There were no problems.

Later I started my car to go to the hospital. It started, but I knew something wasn’t quite right. It took too long to turn over and then wasn’t running smoothly. I set off down the road and the acceleration was poor and jumpy. As a precaution I decided to drive round the block and accelerate my engine to high revs in case it was a blockage. Big mistake. The engine suddenly cut out and left me coasting. My engine management warning light came on and I couldn’t start my car again. I left it a few minutes, managed to start up, and limped home to park up just round the corner.

At this point I suspected I’d put in the wrong fuel in my car and possibly put myself in the very worst situation. When my tank was almost empty of diesel and I’d then put in petrol. Worse still I’d driven it hard. Most guides to this problem recommend don’t even start your engine if you realise on the forecourt that you’ve put in the wrong fuel.

To cut a long story short I confirmed I’d filled up with the wrong fuel by returning to the fuel station and stating the time and amount I’d paid (I hadn’t taken a receipt). They looked through the records and the only sale for my amount at the time I stated was for petrol, NOT diesel. They printed of a receipt confirming I’d put in almost 18 litres of fuel. They also gave me a business card for a ‘fuel doctor’ service.

I had to take a lift to the hospital and spent an agonising few hours reading ‘wrong fuel’ horror stories on the Internet. Especially that you can totally wreck a more modern diesel  engine. This is the main reason for this article, to let people know that it actually might not, as in my case, be that bad.

I ended up paying £160 for a service where a guy comes out to rectify the problem wrongfuel.com, at least at the most basic level. Believe me, that’s cheap compared to others or taking your vehicle back to its dealer. Considering the distance the guy came (took over an hour to reach me) it was good value. After parking next to my vehicle and coning off the area (so embarassing), a tube was inserted into my tank and the petrol was pumped out. My ignition was turned on several times although the engine was not started. This automatically pumps out the remaining fuel in the engine itself in those engines that prime themselves in this manner. I paid an optional £10 for a lubricant which “e;might help”e; my fuel pump and a nominal amount of diesel was put back in my tank – all part of the service.

Much stuttering and smoke afterwards my engine started and was running reasonably well. I filled up with plenty of diesel, my first test run going back to the fuel station where I’d maded my mistake. Over the next week things weren’t perfect. Towards 3,000 rpm I would lose power, but this did rectify itself after another tank refill. Months later and all is well. No lasting harm. I’ve waited a good period before posting my story to make sure all is ok and let others know it might not be as bad as some of the stories out there.wrongfuel.com.

Comments (7)


17 Nov 2012 10:37 by curthoys08
good detailed account very useful and gives hope to people like me awaiting to see if my car is ok on monday thanks great job
15 Nov 2012 11:37 by crazydiamond
As I write this at 11pm in the middle of the country waiting for the recovery truck to pick me up.  Yesterday the fuel light came on it said the car had 48 miles remaining so I put in half a tank almost straight away there was a slight judder I thought this was as a result of letting the fuel run so low. Then I took it on the dual carriageway to give it a good run thinking that this will clear the judder
Next day early 530 am running late for work niticed the car stuggled to start and was smoking made it to work 38 miles
Because it made it on a long journey I thought I couldn’t have been misfuelling but at lunchtime I sarted the car and again huges plumes or smoke I kept rervving it the smell was awful eventually rang the AA and they confirmed that I had put in petrol now I am waiting for the recovery truck to take me back to home (38miles)
Mad tomorrow the AA will come to my house to take the fuel out all costing me 220 pounds don’T know what damage I have done it’s now coming upto 12 am
I know what you thinking whaat soRt of job could I have  starting at 6am ending at 10pm well I have been working a poll clark for ther police commissioner election probably earnt 100 and spen more thn double plus am in the DOG house as my wife is expecting in the next 3 weeks Pray for me
24 Oct 2012 11:59 by thicko
I put 60 litres of petrol in my empty HDI Citroen I drove about 30 lumpy miles over the next few days, and thinking I could blow it through clocked over a ton on a  [private road] went like the clappers but  one day it would not start as I was away from home I called the RAC out and after an hour and 15 mins he gave up and said he would bring a low loader and take it to the dealers in the morning. got a call from the RAC chap next morning  and he said  guess what!!! its just started , so he came and picked me up and it started up again, to which he scratched his head and said beats me, d I drove it home  again and rang my local garage tod him the symptoms,   first thing he said “you haven’t put petrol in have you ” I said don’t be daft and booked it in for him to look at it. pondering on his words I went to the glove compartment and found the receipt, OH DRAT the worst had happened,  60 litres of petrol, over the next couple of days got onto the C4 website forum and posted my tale of woe, the feedback was doom and gloom talks or mega bucks for new pumps engines the works, rang the garage up and sheepishly told him, bring it in he said and I did,  he drained and flushed  and put a gallon of diesel in, and said keep you eye on it  should be OK we do loads of these, that was three months ago and there have been no problems so far,  touch wood.