Refuelling car

Putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle: what happens and what to do next

According to the RAC, somebody, somewhere in the UK puts the incorrect fuel into their vehicle an average of once every three minutes. Just in case this happens to you, we’re giving you some advice about the dos and don’ts, as well as what happens when you put the wrong fuel into a car.

Putting petrol into a diesel car

One of the differences between diesel and petrol is that diesel helps lubricate critical components of your vehicle. This is the most common misfuelling incident and, potentially, the most damaging. When petrol gets put into a diesel-powered car, it mixes with diesel and becomes a solvent, doing the opposite of what diesel does and damaging essential parts, rather than lubricating them. Starting a diesel-powered motor that has petrol in the tank can cause severe and expensive damage, so never start (or even put the key in the ignition of) a vehicle that you know you’ve put the wrong fuel into.

Putting diesel into a petrol car

This is more unlikely to happen to you as there is a difference in nozzle sizes that means putting diesel into a petrol car is harder to do. If it does happen though, there’s less cause for concern as diesel requires compression before it can be ignited. As this won’t happen in a petrol car, it is highly unlikely that your petrol-powered set-of-wheels will start—not that you should try, of course.

What to do next

Hopefully, you’ll have noticed that you’ve put the wrong fuel into the car before starting. If so, leave the keys out of the ignition and inform staff at the fuel station about what has happened. From there, you can get somebody to help you move the car by putting the gearbox into ‘neutral’ and pushing the vehicle to a safe place.

Now you can relax a bit, as your Motability Scheme lease vehicle is covered with breakdown assistance provided by the RAC, for the whole of your lease. The RAC will aim to be with you within 45 minutes, and when you contact them, you’ll need to provide your name, vehicle registration, your exact location and the nature of your breakdown—in this case, a misfuelling. You should tell the RAC if you, or any of your passengers use a wheelchair, if you need medical attention, or you have any other special requirements.

In this sort of event, the RAC will be looking to drain your fuel tank of its contents, providing that the truck they use to do this is available. If not, a contractor will be assigned to do this on their behalf. If your vehicle has been started or seems to be suffering from damage, it might be recovered to a local 24-hour garage for repairs. As with all breakdowns, you have the option of remaining with your car. However, you may be more comfortable in another location while your vehicle is being recovered and repaired—and you can collect it later. We will do our best to keep you mobile by providing a temporary replacement vehicle, however, please be aware that it is not possible to provide you with a like for like replacement vehicle. Our priority is responding quickly to your situation and getting you mobile, we will do our best to provide you with as suitable replacement vehicle as possible to keep you on the road and keep you mobile.

Find out more about temporary replacement vehicles

After it’s all over

You will only need to contact our insurance provider about the misfuelling if the RAC cannot drain the tank at the roadside here. You can contact them on 0300 037 3737 and they will advise you on what to do next. In the event that the RAC can drain the tank at the roadside, an insurance claim for misfuelling will be automatically raised to our insurance provider by the RAC, so you do not have to make the claim yourself. Customers will be required to pay an excess amount for this insurance claim and a letter requesting the excess payment will automatically be sent once the insurance claim has been raised by the RAC. Details on excess amounts are given in your agreement and in your insurance policy document.

Joining the Motability Scheme means that as well as being covered for breakdown, servicing and repairs, you don’t have to worry about insurance, tyre repair and replacement and you can lease a new vehicle every three years. Find out more about the perks of joining the Scheme and check if you’re eligible to join.

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