I put petrol in 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 18 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 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 HDi 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, 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.


10 Mar 2015 09:59 by James
Zafira wrong fuel-No need to mention who put 18l petrol into our diesel zafira. I had my worst nightmare yesterday when I was told the car was juddering. No ways!! It was working on Saturday. I went to the car as called and started it. It took a while to respond to the cranking key. Anyway, was on the road for school run with an embarrassing tail of White smoke. Back home parked and the Zafira wasn't going to start on alien drink. I called AA they confirmed it was petrol filled. The guys are not allowed to drain fuel but he had black rubbery siphon with two good rubber hoses on both ends one of which he connected to the fuel pipe. Did a demo drain and told me I need £220 to get someone who will come and drain it since they are not allowed for Health and safety disposal reasons. I went to buy a hand siphon from the local car spares- an orange plastic siphon for £8 which I needed so much for evening dinner meat. Big mistake. That type of hand siphon pump is evil. No kindergarten would use it. 3 of us tried it with frustration.I called a friend of mine who asked how much diesel was in the tank. There was a quarter diesel before 18 litres petrol was added.The gauge was on half mark with diesel and petrol My friend advised that I fill up the car with diesel right to the maximum possible. It cost me £34.00 for about 24 or 26 litres of diesel. I started off the forecourt. No more juddering but the brakes went stiff. I drove it up 6 miles and the brakes remained stiff.No more white massive white tail of smoke. To get your brakes back on working, stop the car. Pump the break pedal 3-5 times in its stiff state.Turn your key on with foot depressing the break pedal.Start the car and your brakes, Diesel Zafira car is now ready to drive for £34 plus £8 mistake of buying that evil plastic hand siphon(fuel transfer pump). The Zafira is back on the road and reigning its portion of the jungle.
9 Mar 2015 11:57 by Lucky
Great post. My worker put 40ltrs into an empty Ford transit '99 and drove it till it stopped. I pumped the petrol out with a hand pump, changed and primed the fuel filter, and after a bit of splutter she started a treat.
8 Feb 2015 11:24 by steven
i put in 20 pounds of petrol in my diesel car last night. couldn't believe i had done it after 9 years of driving. Couldn't believe it, ended upcasting me £160.00 to sort out in the end. a very very expensive mistake, i have now installed a device on my car to prevent you from putting the wrong fuel in your car.
18 Dec 2014 08:55 by Steven Hine
I did this.. This post helped me so much in what i should do when i put petrol in my diesel car. Just wanted to say a big thank you!
17 Dec 2014 07:49 by Wrong Fuel In Car
Great write up for drivers who have put the wrong fuel in their car. Provides some great advice for motorists.
2 Dec 2014 08:20 by Petrol-in-diesel-car
I once put petrol in a diesel car. I ended up putting in 40l before i noticed. Its a very costly mistake to make.
12 Oct 2014 06:42 by jaxn
Yep...Ive done it... Empty tank on my CDTI Vectra 07. Put 18 ltrs UL in then realised. Paid for it and tried to ring as may telephone numbers for fuel doctors the garage had but no reply. I tried AA and RAC but was just on hold. Managed to get hold of one garage over the phone but they said they were about to close an wouldnt come out! I decided to top to the brim with regular diesel. I drove 100 miles and all seems fine. This only happened yesterday. I will see how she fires up later today and post an update yo.
30 Aug 2014 12:40 by Alexkats
I was used to putting petrol in my quad bike on a two week holiday every other day.

Came home to my near empty Audi a4 TDI and filled it up with a tenners worth of petrol. Not knowing, drove off with no problem and carried on for at least 25miles throughout the day and next day.

Stared noticing smell of petrol, taking ages to start, no oil, lumpy etc. managed to start it and get to pump station after realising must have put petrol in. only put in thirty quids worth and took a while to start but finally went fine. drove it every day for around three days until getting a call that I have to go back to sea.

How do I know if there is future damage etc or does anyone think ive dodged a bullet and should be fine.

when home in 10 days I will replace the fuel filter and keep it fully topped. Anything else from experience ? Thanks.
5 May 2014 06:04 by Weallmakemistakes
After nearly 11 years of owning both a diesel and a petrol car, I put in about half tank of petrol into my nearly empty diesel car. Being a Mercedes ML, the RAC said they couldn't drain it even for the £200 charge they initially quoted. I got some bloke who advertises on the internet to come over and drain the fuel from the engine end, replace it with diesel and injector cleaner. All for £110. I'm an engineer and watched him do the job. Although he was not the finest chap with tools and didn't inspire confidence by first trying to siphon from the tank filler, what he actually did seemed to be right and adequate. I've driven the car for a day or so and it seems to be running well. There were a couple of minor hiccups after initial start but it now runs as well as it used to. £110 including fuel and cleaner is a good price. I don't want to advertise but recommend that people shop around before committing.
24 Mar 2014 06:08 by Huds
Put in£50 of unleaded in my lovely Peugeot 207 that is always well behaved. Drove home. Next day drove kids to school then off to work and car started jerking slightly. Thought air block then had flash back of me choosing unleaded or super unleaded at the station....noooooo! Numpty. Waited 3 hours for green flag to tow me to my garage where oddly I was booked in for an mot that day anyway. Drainage of tank etc about 130 so not as hideous as I thought.just hope poor little car forgives me....
28 Feb 2014 07:08 by muddywheeler
I too unfortunately filled my diesel car with petrol only noticing as I put the nozzle back in place, now I had a full tank of petrol. with help my car was pushed to the side and I rang the RAC from the filling station, they said someone would ring me back, they did, the chap when on that they would have to come and collect the car and I would have to pick it up when done and there would be a cost....£365 shocked I asked where he was..Wakefield...I was in Beverley East Yorkshire some 52 miles needless to say I refused and rang the RAC back asked for them to take my car to my local garage 20 miles away, he lent me a car to go home in 3hrs later he rang, my car was ready, when I got there he took me for some fuel in his van £20 worth he paid, when I got the bill it was £40 I now take my car to him for servicing. RAC what a ripoff.
12 Dec 2013 08:22 by Cas
I made the same mistake by putting 20 litres UL in my Opel Insignia CDTI with the tank nearly empty. I realised before completely full and did not drive, paid for the UL and then immediately filled up with Shell V Power Nitro. Petrol floats on diesel as they have different specific weights, I kept topping up the tank to dilute the UL and have had no problems. Without doubt not starting the engine helped.
4 Dec 2013 05:50 by Petrolhead
I came across a product: Dieselsmartcap, it prevents you from puting in the wrong nozzle into your diesel vehicle. Hope it will help
11 Oct 2013 12:43 by TomR
I came a cropper in doing this also, I thought I had ruined my car, but luckily not. While waiting for the the guys to arrive I Googled putting the wrong fuel in the car and came across loads of forums about people doing it as well, so now I feel less stupid, I did read an article that put my concerns at bay a little, check it out http://www.autofuelfix.com/blog/wrong-fuel-in-car-your-ultimate-guide, I have also put it as the 'website' above. Highly recommended if you have concerns about how your car might be affected.

I just wanted to revisit this forum now I am back at home and thankfully my car is fine.
3 Sep 2013 11:09 by Sknight
I stupidly filled my wife's CRV 2008 diesel with 7 litres (12% of tank) of petrol before realising what I had done. Stopped filled the rest of the tank with diesel and topped it up since. Touch wood no problems as yet 500 miles on!
19 Jun 2013 03:54 by Smithy
Just filled my crv d with unleaded ! Started car drove 2 mins down rd turned car off to be washed went to drive away but wouldn't turn ! Realised what an idiot I'd been ! Called out fuel guy was charged £198 it's driving good again now I filled the top with diesel and put in a cleaner ! I hope it stays ok ( bit worried) but the stories on the net terrify you so I'm adding my story to keep the faith it's alright xxx
28 May 2013 05:31 by dc
You may find you have damaged the catalytic converter and have difficulty with the MOT emission test.
26 May 2013 12:19 by SteveR
I put £55.00 of super unleaded into my Picasso and drove about 20 miles on the Bank Holiday weekend. It started missing as I pulled into a garden centre car park. When I came out it wouldn't start so I rang the AA breakdown service but they didn't have a van to drain the system till the following day, so they brought me home. I had to pay £200 for the drain and disposal, and £12 for some fuel to get me to the nearest garage. I've been out this morning and filled it up with £80.00. There has been no problems so far, he told me there's usually no damage unless its been driven for more than a hundred miles. ......expensive mistake
21 May 2013 08:35 by Utterdull
I used that fuel doctor guy about a year ago and he gave me my money back after he came out and done half a job and knackered up my car. They basically only took half of the fuel tank out. I've called a few fuel drain companies who do the same as this fuel doctor guy and they say the same. Fuel doctor can only do jobs which require putting a pipe down the filler neck. I'd be careful of this fuel doctor guy.
9 May 2013 04:03 by Lucky One
Happened to me yesterday on a Mazda 6. Full fill up of unleaded on an almost dry tank. Got 5 miles felt a knocking and dawned on me what I'd done. Coasted it to our local garage about a mile away. They were brilliant and arranged for their own contact to come out. Spent the night dreading what was going to happen. The upshot is that when they started to pump out fuel it was high concentration diesel before the ul came through. Couple of hours of work and it started first time. Seemed ok to them but rough to me when I got in it. Then brimmed it and over the next few miles, things got better. Just got back after 50 miles and its back to its old self. Yes there may be long-term damage that will show but touch wood, may'be I have got away with it. So its not immediately fatal folks - though obviously best if you a) don't do it, and b) realise before you drive at all.
9 May 2013 12:55 by Thefuelexpert
Your right, much cheaper than taking it back to the main dealer! - we do these fuel drains all the time and it's nice to see it helps out in a difficult spot
8 May 2013 08:06 by Roy
I have just commited the fatal sin of filling my diesel Hyundai I30 with petrol - approx. 80%petrol to 20%diesel. Got worried by comments concerning damage to a common rail engine as I drove about 5 miles with it spluttering like mad. Local garage have removed contaminated fuel and cleared out fuel pump. Tank now full of neat diesel, engine was a bit noisy and sluggish for a few miles, but nowback to normal. Cost to tow car to garage, clear out contaminated fuel and add £15 of diesel £114 - 00. NO MAJOR DAMAGE.
20 Apr 2013 06:43 by linboy
On friday 19th April 2013, i absent-mindedly put in 1ltr of petrol in the almost empty tank of my taxi, a Toyota Crown. it's a Euro IV diesel engine.i then filled up the tank with diesel. i had heard of warnings of never starting the engine after such kinds of incidents.but i just gave it a try.it started fine and since then til end of my day today, Saturday, the car has covered more then 500km without problems.fingers crossed.touch wood :)
17 Mar 2013 10:55 by hudsocat
i did same but i then filled it to the top with diesel and it ran fine till i stopped and it strugled to restart so after 60 miles i refilled to to brim and when i got home put in 2 litres of engine oil in the tank it now runs fine ita polo 62n1344 cc turbo d i think have been lucky
7 Mar 2013 01:49 by geocle
I ended up with petrol in my tank,(unbeknown to me)giving me 80% petrol,20% diesel,drove 75miles.Car would not start.RAC got me going with 'Easy Start',and sent me on my way,warning me not to stop till I got home,another 75miles.I then got the RAC to take it to the garage,where they gave me the news.My question is,surely if I had put that much petrol in,the car wouldn't have run!!!, let alone that far.I am sure I put diesel in,not petrol,I think the filling station had polluted fuel.Ideas ????????
24 Feb 2013 10:16 by Smith
Thanks for taking the time to leave that reassuring message, my panic has subsided!
19 Feb 2013 09:49 by irish
Similar situation to the gentleman above, also bringing a person to the hospital..strangely enough. Everyone is an expert and a lot of bs out there surrounding missfuelling. Each case is different I know but their is always hope!
24 Jan 2013 11:06 by dangerous51
I put £60 of petrol in my Audi A3 16 TDI (12 plate) this morning and drove 5 miles. Called the AA and while I was waiting for them to arrive I was looking on the net and reading all the doom and gloom about wrecking my pump, injectors or engine. The AA turned up and said that this was crap. He'd been called to several thousand such incidents and only ever come across 12 cars that were damaged and had never failed to fix one manufactuered by Audi. Sure enough he drained my tank, put in a few litres of diesel and additive and started her up. Probably not too smart an idea putting petrol in a diesel tank but wont necessarily be a disaster. Happy Days
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.
27 Sep 2012 11:47 by fuelfixer
Hi was this us? we do fuel drains for that price. glad to hear it all worked out in the end, they nearly always do despite the scare stories
20 Aug 2012 12:31 by bl0ke
I had to laugh when I saw an ad for 'Laser Eye Surgery' on this page. :D
20 Jun 2012 05:58 by Good to know!
Good to know ty!
15 Jun 2012 02:05 by Me