Wrong Fuel. What Should I Do?
It happens. And more often than you’d expect. Instances of drivers putting the wrong fuel into their vehicles are now estimated at 150,000 per year with the most common mistake being filling a diesel car up with petrol. If you’ve already experienced a fuel error, you’ll know that they seem to happen at the least opportune moments, when the rain is pouring, when you’re late for a meeting, when you have a hungry newborn in the car. Whatever the circumstances, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to limit cost and damage to your car.
1.) Do not start your engine
Starting the engine will result in the fuel being circulated within the fuel system which can cause significant damage to the engine. If you do start and drive the vehicle, you could be looking at costly repairs or even the entire replacement of your fuel system. At minimum your fuel tank will need to be drained so leaving the engine off and in neutral will lead to the best of outcomes under the circumstances.
2.) Tell the petrol station what has happened
Staff can give you advice for breakdown cover if you don’t have your own and should be able to help you to move the car somewhere that has easy access for breakdown cover when it arrives.
3.) If you are not at a petrol station, ask for help to move the car somewhere safe
If you have left the forecourt, pull over quickly and safely. If you cannot, safely flag down help from other drivers to move the car to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic.
4.) If you have breakdown cover, call them immediately
Make the call as soon as you can and give a full description of what has happened. How much fuel you put in, the size of the fuel tank, if you have started the engine etc. The more information the better.
5.) Call your insurer
It’s always best to call your insurer and inform them of the circumstances as soon as possible. They will be best placed to offer guidance and reassurance where necessary.
The cost of draining a fuel tank will vary depending on whether you have started the car or not. A basic call out of a fuel recovery specialist can cost around £190 if the engine has not been started. If you have started the engine, costs can rise to as much as £5000 depending on the damage. Whether you can claim back your costs depends on your insurance policy so it’s key to ensure you have the right policy in place to provide for any eventuality.