A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Apr 29, 2022

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Important facts to know...

  • Putting diesel fuel into your car instead of gasoline can damage your fuel system, engine, and injectors
  • It’s crucial that you stop your engine and tow the vehicle home as soon as possible to prevent major damage
  • Your auto insurance may pay for the repairs that need to be made after putting the wrong fuel in your car
  • Insurance companies often called this incident misfuelling and it is covered under your comprehensive cover
  • You should check your existing insurance contract to see if there are existing exclusions for fuel-related issues

In the blink of an eye, your car can go from being a reliable and fully functional piece of machinery to a hunk of metal. Cars typically break down over time when you don’t maintain them.

This breakdown is part of the wear and tear process that’s expected. What you might not expect is that your car could be operating fine and suddenly break down simply because you’ve put the wrong fuel in the tank.

When you visit your local gas station, you have to choose from three or four different buttons before you start with the fuel pump into your car’s receptacle.

If you pick 89 instead of 87 one time, it’s no big deal. You’re paying a bit more per gallon for premium gas, but it’s not going to damage your engine. It’s when you misfuel your gas engine with diesel fuel that you have to start worrying.

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Why do some cars take different kinds of fuel?

Most fuel stations offer consumers the option to buy premium, super, unleaded, or diesel fuel. The first three options are all different grades of gasoline that are used to fuel a gas-powered vehicle.

This type of fuel is most common with newer vehicles and most private passenger cars that aren’t powered by electricity.

If you own a commercial vehicle or a classic car, you’ll probably have to purchase diesel fuel instead of gasoline.

Both gas and diesel engine convert fuel in the fuel tank into a form of energy using a combustion cycle. The main difference in vehicles powered by diesel fuel is how the fuel is compressed before being injected and ignited.

Since combustion happens at different times during the cycle, you can’t mix diesel fuel with gasoline in gas-powered cars.

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What happens when you mix the wrong fuel?

You might think it’s a silly mistake to make, but misfuelling your is more common than many think it is. In fact, nearly 150,000 motorists misfuel their cars every year.

It’s possible to put diesel fuel in a gas-powered tank of fuel, but much more common to put petrol in a diesel-powered tank of fuel because of the smaller size of the pump nozzle.

It’s important to be mindful of what type of fuel your vehicle requires and what type of fuel you’re putting in your car. If you accidentally put the wrong fuel type in your vehicle, you should know that your engine isn’t capable of combusting the wrong type of fuel. You’ll be able to tell that your car isn’t running properly as the engine tries to go into overdrive.

Once the compatible fuel burns off, your engine will shut down leaving you with possible engine and fuel injector damage and a hefty repair bill.

What should you do when you realize you’ve made a mistake?

If you’re fortunate enough to realize that you selected the wrong nozzle right after you finished pumping, you should avoid turning on your car to ensure that no fuel will go into the fuel lines where it will then reach the injectors.

Diesel nozzles tend to differ from regular gas nozzles at a petrol station so it’s hard to make such a mistake, yet it does happen. If you realize you made a mistake, stop driving the car. Park and turn the vehicle off to limit the damage.

Tow your vehicle or push it and have the fuel tank and lines cleaned out immediately.

Otherwise, the vehicle will use up the gas in the tank and eventually shut down because regular gasoline engines cannot consume diesel.

If you’ve already started your car’s engine, then the fuel pumping process has already started. Starting the engine multiplies the problem, but it’s driving the vehicle miles and miles that could really damage your engine beyond repair.

As soon as you realize what’s happened, follow the following steps:

  • turn your engine off
  • tow it
  • have it repaired

Putting gas in a diesel car is far more dangerous because it can really damage the fuel injector pump. Diesel and gas vehicles have different combustion properties-regular gas will blow up much earlier which can cause huge damage. You may have to repair, rebuild or replace certain parts of your vehicle.

How do you repair a car after you put the wrong fuel in?

Unless you’re a mechanic or you have completed training to learn how to repair cars you’ll have to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop.

The fuel tank will need to undergo a draining process and then a cleaning process no matter what you did after you pumped the fuel. If you started the engine, the repairs could cost you most than $1000 because you’ll have to replace your fuel lines and rails in the engine.

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Do you have to pay for your repairs on your own?

Auto insurance can pay for mistakes that you make but not all of them. If you think about it, you’re filing a claim for a mistake that you’ve made when you have an at-fault accident, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that you’ll have coverage for making a fueling mistake.

Unfortunately, not all insurers will pay for claims when you’ve put the wrong fuel in your own tank.

To find out if your auto insurance policy will pay for your mistake, you need to review your contract in detail. You can also call your agent and explain the situation so that they can give you their input.

If this type of damage isn’t covered under the terms of the standard policy, it will say that fuel-related claims are excluded somewhere in the physical damage section of your plan.

What type of coverage do you need to have?

For coverage to apply, you’ll still need to carry the right types of auto insurance. A basic auto policy isn’t going to pay for any fuel system or engine repairs to your car. Instead, you’ll have to carry an optional form of protection called comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive is first-party coverage that will pay for repairs that you need to get done to your own vehicle after a covered loss. Some of the many types of perils that are covered include:

  • fire
  • theft
  • vandalism
  • flood
  • explosion
  • falling objects

You have to speak directly with your insurer to determine if your damages will be covered. It’s important that you look at your insurance and see if you have comprehensive insurance on your plan before you attempt to file a claim.

If you don’t, get instant quotes online to price the cost of full coverage insurance and then build a comprehensive policy. Enter your zip code below to compare quotes for free today.