This is one mistake that could spell disaster.
We've all heard of someone who has made the mistake of accidentally adding the wrong type of fuel in their car. This happens more often than you think and can destroy your motor or cost a fortune to repair. But, believe it or not, you can put the wrong fuel in your car without it meaning you have to write off the vehicle, and the fear of making this mistake doesn't have to inspire you to shop for a hybrid. There are ways of fixing this issue. In this post, we'll be discussing issues such as placing diesel in a gas tank, ethanol in a gas tank, and how to fix things when there's water in your gas tank.
Misfuelling is when you put the wrong type of fuel in your car's gas tank. To many, this may not sound problematic, but it can be disastrous because of the differences between gas and diesel engines. Here's why: gasoline and diesel are very different in composition and application, and as a result, the engines they power are built very differently, too. Gas engines make use of spark plugs to ignite the fuel, whereas diesel power plants generate heat through compression - each is made to function using specific fuel types, only. A misfuelling mistake can cause a serious amount of damage to the fuel system of both diesel and gas-powered cars. So, what happens if you put diesel in a gas-powered car?
Putting gas in a diesel-engined car is much more serious than the converse. Diesel has lubricant properties close to that of oil, while gasoline is a solvent, so using gas instead is hazardous to the fuel pump and diesel injectors, will cause friction, and eventually damage the engine's internal parts. Gas also ignites much quicker, so even just a little bit of gas mixed into diesel will reduce the ignition point of diesel, which will cause premature detonation. The following might happen when you run gas in your diesel engine.
This type of misfuel is less common, and may seem less serious than mixing gas into a diesel system, but in reality, it's also potentially critical. Upon starting your car, the diesel will coat the fuel system; symptoms of the wrong fuel in the car in this case include misfiring, excessive smoke, and will eventually lead to the vehicle not wanting to start at all. Diesel is also more dense than gasoline and will make the fuel pump work excessively hard to push the fuel through the lines, which will eventually clog up the fuel filter. The fuel injectors will also stop working and will need to be flushed. You may be able to travel for a short distance before the engine seizes. There are other potential problems that may crop up if you've put diesel in the gas tank not meant for it:
Ethanol and E85 are not the same thing, firstly; while ethanol is an alcohol made from corn, sugar cane or other biomass, E85 is a flex-fuel comprised of 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline. Certain cars today are specifically designed to burn flex-fuel, but not all cars can run it safely, including most cars built before 2008, and all diesel cars. Many trucks and sedans in the States are flex-fuel compatible, including the Silverado 1500 and Impala from Chevrolet, respectively.
Accidentally adding E85 or ethanol to the gas tank won't mean the end of the world if you top up the rest of the tank with regular unleaded gas, but running on pure E85 can cause serious problems due to its corrosive nature, especially over time, as aluminum, rubber, and magnesium parts will slowly start to erode on cars not meant to run on E85. To modify a car's fueling to accept E85 can be a costly exercise and parts that will have to be replaced include the fuel hoses, fuel pump, certain seals and gaskets, and most importantly, the fuel injectors. We have a closer look at flex-fuels of this type, here.
Forget about using the wrong fuel in your car - getting water in your gas tank is just as serious, and a fix might end up costing you more than you bargained for. Water can get in your gas tank through cracks in the fuel cap, a bad water filter at the gas station you're filling up at, condensation in your gas tank - or if your inquisitive toddler "tops up" the tank with your garden hose.
So what are the symptoms of having water in your gas tank?
To solve this issue, it is recommended that you
Now that we've covered what could happen if you've put the wrong liquid into the gas tank, the only thing left to answer is how you fix the problem, and what steps you can take to mitigate damage.
Most mechanics will fully drain your fuel tank and fuel system and perform a few systems flushes before handing the vehicle back to you. It is recommended that you let a professional take care of this.
You'd be surprised at how often this happens. This issue can easily be avoided by being aware of some simple points, such as knowing the differences between gas and diesel engines and fuels and, more specifically, knowing what type of gas your car takes. But there are other steps you can also take:
Misfuelling happens more often than you think and can cause serious damage to your vehicle if left unchecked. By informing yourself of your car's fuel requirements and paying close attention at the fuel pumps, you can avoid this costly mistake. Having water in your gas tank or filling a diesel car up with regular gas are the two most dangerous misfuelling scenarios, but damage can also occur when fuelling a gas car with diesel or a gas car with E85. In the event that you've made the mistake already, be safe rather than sorry - don't run the car, and call for professional help.
A small amount of petrol won't destroy a diesel motor, but it will place it at higher risk of early detonation due to petrol lowering combustion temperatures, and could hurt the fuel system. There isn't any good reason to do this, so as a rule of thumb, rather stick to the type of fuel your engine requires.
Diesel will last for between six to twelve months before it starts to go "gummy." After this period, old diesel can clog up fuel filters and injectors.
It all depends on the car, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $2,000 - and this is without taking into account any further clean-up, inspection, or repair costs.
It depends on which type of fuel has been mixed into your gas tank. A gas-powered car filled with diesel will manage a few miles, while a diesel vehicle topped up with gas will present issues immediately. Gas cars will also run a good while on E85 before succumbing to fueling issues. It's safest not to run your car at all if you've topped off with the wrong substance.
There are many advantages to auto insurance, but one disadvantage is that many insurers generally do not cover mechanical breakdowns, but if you suspect that your vehicle has been damaged due to the incorrect fuel being supplied by the fuel retailer, it could possibly be covered. Check on your auto insurance plan whether breakdowns and misfuelling are covered.