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 breakdown 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 pumping 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 engine.
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 engines convert fuel in the 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 a gas-powered engine.
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, but much more common to put petrol in a diesel-powered tank because of the smaller size of the pump nozzle.
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.
Tow your vehicle or push it and have the fuel tank and lines cleaned out immediately.
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
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 a shop.
The tank will need to be drained and then cleaned 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.
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 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 a 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:
- 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.