What to do if you pour diesel fuel into the fuel tank of the gasoline engine

What is the consequences of putting solar oil into a tank instead of petrol and how to identify it

The result of technological distillation and processing of oil are petroleum products, which have different characteristics. The most well-known and widespread of them are gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, kerosene. Each type of petroleum products can be used in the operation of engines, but they are not designed to be interchangeable.

Filling up with diesel

How fuel types differ and how to recognize the first symptoms

Different types of fuels differ in their combustion and energy release characteristics. In addition, they have different viscosity, ignition temperature, impurity content, etc. Naturally, differences are also provided in the operation of the power units. The air-fuel mixture for gasoline engines is distributed into the cylinders, where it is ignited by an electric spark. For a diesel engine, the process is different: the diesel fuel is compressed under great pressure in the cylinders, from which it heats up and ignites strongly.

Detonation and extraneous sounds are the key symptom of “non-native” fuel, for which the vehicle is not adapted – simply diesel was poured into the tank instead of gasoline. Its incomplete combustion will be noticeable by black smoke puffs from the muffler. In the majority of cases the drivers quickly notice the mistake, as diesel fuel is heavier than petrol and sinks to the bottom of the tank.

If diesel fuel enters the fuel tank, it will separate into separate fractions if there is diesel in the gasoline. Due to the lower density of gasoline, it rises to the top, while diesel fuel descends closer to the neck, where it is easily sucked in by the power unit. As the air-fuel mixture mixes, it is enriched with diesel fuel and then sucked in by the cylinders.

Heavier in composition and weight, the fuel is not designed to be ignited by an electric spark. In addition, the compression ratio of gasoline engines is lower than that of their diesel counterparts. All this leads to incomplete combustion of the working mixture, engine thrashing and loss of working capacity. The soot begins to form actively on the plugs. The unburnt fuel gets into the oil filter through the oil sump and clogs the cylinders.


What the driver should be wary of

At the first signs of such a malfunction, it will be correct to immediately turn off your engine. Next, it is recommended to call an emergency service to evacuate the vehicle to the service station, where experienced motorists work. There the car will make a diagnosis of the power unit with the washing of the fuel system and tank, followed by drying, and if necessary, replacing the filter elements. In any case, you can not passively wait until the tank runs out of fuel and the car stalls, because it will end with a major repair.

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It is extremely undesirable for diesel fuel to get into a fuel system designed to use gasoline. This is because the pressure in the system will not be sufficient to ignite it. Diluted fuel will not be able to burn completely and the system will begin to intensively form soot. Also fuel oil contains paraffins, which clog the channels and lines.

As a consequence of getting diesel instead of gasoline, the driver gets the following results:

  • cylinder misfiring;
  • clogging and clogging of lines, valves, injectors; in the chambers;
  • Increased detonation processes, leading to engine failure.

Filling up a car

Gasoline instead of diesel – is it harmless?

The opposite situation can have unpleasant consequences, when the diesel engine receives gasoline instead of diesel fuel through the tank, no matter what is its octane number. However, such an engine was originally designed more as a multi-fuel engine. In winter months, it is sometimes even recommended to dilute the heavier diesel fuel with gasoline.

It is dangerous, when the ratio of the latter becomes predominant. The fact is that its combustion temperature is higher, so the combustion temperature in the chambers will automatically increase. At first, this will lead to a decrease in power of the power unit, and later will require repair of valves, gaskets, pistons and other spare parts. Many modern engines are equipped with an internal lubrication system, but gasoline fuel does not have these characteristics.

Therefore, first you need to make sure that from the tank does not come the characteristic smell of gasoline. In order not to confuse, you can compare these two types of fuel and by color: diesel is transparent, and gasoline has more often a yellowish or reddish tint. But the diesel engines accept a strange fuel easier, and that is why it is possible to avoid the expensive repair because of mistake.

If, for example, there is not much gasoline, you can dilute it with engine oil for two-stroke engines (up to 50 ml for each wrongly filled liter). After that, fill the tank to the brim with diesel. Forced drainage and flushing will be needed only in cases when there will be more than half a tank of petrol. But you don’t have to worry that it will clog fuel lines – you just have to replace the cleaning filter.

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What a driver should do in such a situation

If the undesirable mixing of fuel still occurred, you need to know what to do when getting into the gasoline of diesel, and to do this it is worth remembering how much in the fuel lines and the system could have remained native fuel. Nevertheless, you should not expect that the concentration of foreign diesel will be acceptable in order to drive some more distance. During this time the power unit may suffer irreparable damage, requiring an overhaul.

If an unpleasant error has occurred at the filling station, you should by no means try to start the engine. This will save the engine and the fuel system from costly repairs. The best option – use a tow-truck or a wrecker and take your car to a car service center, where they can drain all the fuel from the system completely and flush the gas tank and trunk from its residues.

Towing a car

Possible consequences for the car owner

The list of works and the approximate amount of damages in financial calculation will depend on the severity of the damage caused to the engine and the fuel system due to the fact that diesel fuel was used instead of gasoline. The most severe consequence is the overhaul of the power unit or its replacement. An approximate set of actions may be as follows:

  • complete drainage of residual fuel, followed by washing of the gas tank;
  • flushing of fuel lines;
  • flushing of engine injectors;
  • change of spark plugs;
  • fuel filter change;
  • change of oil in the system and oil filter.

Of course, modern car manufacturers have worked out some precautions to exclude the situation when a car intended for gasoline gets into the fuel. For example, at filling stations, the so-called “guns” have different diameter of the tip. The diesel one has a wider sting – its diameter is 25 mm. instead of 21 mm. It follows that a wider nozzle cannot be inserted due to its physical characteristics.

That is why at the first difficulties with refueling it is worth to look at the label above the hose – maybe you will find there the letters DT. Nevertheless, in older models of cars this was not always respected, because at that time not so much attention was paid to such standards. It is not uncommon to find situations where erroneous fuel is poured into the neck from a canister. In short, tens of thousands of such situations occur every year around the world.

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To summarize, getting diesel fuel into the tank of a car running on gasoline carries a direct threat of significant costs for its repair. That is why it is categorically impossible to start the engine, only to replace lines and fuel tank. Full filling of the gas tank under the filler neck will not help in this situation. In contrast to the gasoline engine for the diesel engine, getting gasoline in it is not so dangerous, and in some cases is even allowed.

Filling the tank of a gasoline car with diesel fuel – what happens and what to do.

Perhaps there is nothing worse than pouring diesel fuel into the tank of a gasoline car and vice versa – to fill a diesel car with gasoline. Especially sad consequences can be caused by refueling with wrong fuel in modern cars equipped with complicated high-precision injection systems and other auxiliary electronic elements. Repair may cost not just a “penny”, but a very large sum.

Beginner car owner, take a note!

In spite of the fact that both types of fuel (gasoline and diesel) are refined from crude oil, they are made with completely different processes and additives and are by no means interchangeable! Therefore, the problem seems to be far-fetched to some inexperienced drivers and has a real chemical component that can “poison” the car interior and lead to a serious breakdown.

How is it possible to confuse a filling pistol?

Marek Studzinski / unsplash.com

Experienced motorists, in their turn, will immediately point out that filling your car with wrong fuel is not an easy task because the fueling cocks are color-coded (diesel pumps usually have green handles) or at least they are clearly marked with “92”, “95” and so on for gasoline and “diesel” for diesel fuel.

Moreover, the nozzle of the taps has different diameters: diesel filling guns are somewhat larger in diameter than their gasoline counterparts (diesel “sting” diameter is 25 mm, gasoline – 21 mm), this makes it difficult to place them in the filler neck of a car with a gasoline engine.

However, “makes it difficult” does not mean it is impossible… all that is needed from a driver is determination to cram what he can’t cram in and no one cancels errors and banal negligence of gas station employees all over the world. For example, it happens that gasoline trucks mistakenly pump diesel fuel into the underground tanks for storage of gasoline. It happens extremely rarely, but it does happen.

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Fuel trucks can also make a mistake by putting the wrong gun in the tank. The author of these lines personally observed such an incident, when at one of the gas stations employee mistakenly filled the tank with diesel in the “Gazelle”. Fortunately the “Gazelle operator” noticed the switch in time and ran to clarify the very unpleasant misunderstanding.

The only assumption, how physically it could happen, is that in older cars with gasoline engine, the filler neck is slightly wider and allows inserting inside, including a refueling pistol with diesel fuel. Well, or an additional tank, also with a wider filler neck, was put on the car.

But no matter what, the main question remains: what to do if you pour diesel into your car with a gasoline engine? Let’s find out.

Not all fuels are the same.

Diesel and gasoline are very different fuels. Diesel is heavier than gasoline, has a much lower octane rating and ignites very differently . Gasoline has a characteristic smell, while diesel smells different. The latter type is much thicker than gasoline, which is a liquid, fluid, watery substance.

If at a gas station you have suspicions that you have been filled up with diesel instead of gasoline, you should NOT risk to start the car AT ALL!

If all the same to ignore this fact, the car will go, certainly, while there will be petrol in a fuel line, but as soon as diesel fuel will get into cylinders, traction will stop very quickly, the car will shake and it will be impossible to drive it. There will be extraneous noises in the engine – knocks, and black smoke will fall from the exhaust pipe.

If you persist and don’t kill the engine, the car will simply stall, since diesel fuel is ignited by compression and cannot be ignited by a spark. The only way is to have a tow truck and go to the service.

It is difficult to say for sure how long the engine will stutter and start to choke on fuel, as it will directly depend on the amount of correct fuel left in the tank. But in a couple of minutes, or in several tens of minutes it will happen inevitably.

The process in brief is as follows: the diesel is the heavier fraction, and it will start its way to the lower point of the gas tank, from where through the fuel line with the help of the gasoline pump the alien fuel will start to enter the engine.

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That is, the denser diesel fuel will sink and the gasoline will float to the surface.

What could be the consequences?

Garett Mizunaka / unsplash.com

Minimal consequences:

  • You’ll have to flush the fuel system of diesel fuel and its residue, oils, and paraffin dissolved in the diesel;
  • All fuel filters have to be changed in any case
  • You’ll also have to clean the carburetor or injectors;
  • The spark plugs also won’t survive the encounter with heavier fuel;
  • The gas tank will need to be drained of all the diesel and deactivate its residue on the walls/clean them.

Medium consequences:

  • Oil change;
  • Oil filter.

Only if the DT leaks through the cylinders and out of the oil filter.

Maximum consequences:

  • Engine overhaul.

What to do if you just filled up with diesel instead of gasoline

If you realize the mistake before you try to get behind the wheel, here’s what you should do:

1. Don’t start the car and don’t drive it anywhere. We explained above what the consequences might be.

2- Pay attention to how much diesel fuel you just put in there. There is a huge difference between 5 liters and a full tank! This will help the auto mechanic determine the extent of the damage more accurately in the future.

3. Call a tow-truck – and go to a car service. The damage will be already calculated there. But absolutely for sure the mistake will leave in a big copeck, even if everything goes on the minimum scenario.

4. the worst case – overhaul of the engine, which tried to “digest” unsuitable fuel. Often this leads to serious damage to cylinders, pistons and valves.

5. Save the receipt from the gas station (if you were injected with inappropriate fuel through no fault of your own, such as the gas station attendant), demand an examination of the fuel poured, keep the bills of lading and receipts after maintenance.

For more on the subject of legal defense in such a case, read here or here .

One more piece of advice. Carefully see what kind of gun the fuelling station attendant uses, what kind of fuel the cashier says and what is written on the receipt – AI or diesel fuel. This attentiveness will save you nerves and a lot of money!

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