What to do if you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle

Filling up with the wrong fuel is more common than you may think – approximately 150,000 motorists make the mistake every year. Should you be one of them, the most important thing to remember is not to switch on the ignition, as this can increase the damage caused and therefore the cost of repairing it. You should instead attempt to push your vehicle away from the pumps to somewhere it can be worked on or recovered, before calling your breakdown assistance provider.

Certain firms offer a mobile service and will come to you to drain the fuel from the engine. Otherwise, your car may need to be towed to a garage for the work to be performed. In the worst-case scenario you may need a new engine, but this is only likely if you have driven with the wrong fuel circulating through the engine. Generally a thorough drain and engine flush will be completed, and some parts may need to be replaced.

When is the risk of misfuelling highest?

No one deliberately misfuels their car – it happens most often when motorists are distracted or confused about which pump to use.

The risk of using the wrong fuel increases when:

  • You fill up at an unfamiliar filling station which may use different coloured hoses than those you’re used to.
  • You swap cars regularly, such as using one vehicle for work and another for personal use.
  • You are driving a rental car.
  • You are in a rush or distracted when on the forecourt.

Try to remember to pay attention whenever you stop to fill up and, crucially, not to switch on the ignition should you use the wrong pump.

For more helpful motoring tips please click through the rest of our car advice pages.