I put petrol in my diesel HDi and survived
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.