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What to do if you fill up your car with the wrong fuel

Oops. Petrol in a diesel or diesel in a petrol; either way it’s not great news. The wrong kind of fuel can cause serious damage to your engine.

But all is not lost! Thousands and thousands of people do this every year so don't panic, and follow these simple steps.

If you haven't started the engine:

  1. Don't start the engine!
  2. Tell a petrol station attendant what's happened
  3. Ask someone to help you push your car out of the way
  4. Call your breakdown company or search 'fuel drain' on your phone to find a specialist company to come out to you
  5. If you don't have your phone on you, the attendant may know of a company

If the fuel hasn’t been drawn into the engine or you haven’t put much in, you may get away with no damage at all.

If you've filled up with a high performance version of the petrol or diesel you usually use (like Shell V-Power Unleaded petrol or BP Ultimate Diesel) the only damage will be to your pocket and you can drive as normal.

If you have started the engine:

Don't start it again unless you're in an unsafe position and have no one to help you push your car, or you need to put it in neutral to move.

Things may be a bit more difficult if you've driven the car, as the wrong fuel can damage your engine if it's drawn through the system.

  1. Make sure you're parked in a safe place
  2. Make sure your ignition is off
  3. Call your breakdown company or find a fuel drain company online
  4. Call your insurer
If you're insured with ingenie and have added breakdown cover on your policy, call 0800 988 3393 for policies starting before 1st June 2018 and 0800 952 3185 for policies starting after 1st June 2018.

Your tank will be drained of fuel and you'll probably need the filter replaced to protect your engine.

In this case, you will need to be towed to a garage, which all breakdown services and many fuel drain companies will do for you.

Your insurance

Filling up with the wrong fuel is classed as accidental damage with a comprehensive insurance policy. However, you need to check with your insurer whether they'll cover roadside assistance and fuel removal.


If you're insured with ingenie and you need to talk to someone about damage to your car, call us on 0330 303 0021.