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Wrong fuel in your diesel car?

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Wrong fuel in your diesel car ?

older diesel engines were more tolerant,  modern diesel engines don’t like petrol but
DON’T PANIC –  this is going to be the hardest advice of all for you to accept –

Yes really do not panic.

Do not drive the car. If you have started it stay calm and switch off
Call a specialist for help to drain the tank and refill with clean, pure diesel.

In this article my advice is based on what I have heard and read about misfueling diesel cars.

If you have never misfuelled (wonderful smug feeling) good!

If you have, try to console yourself that 150 thousand people (and you) per year misfuel their diesel vehicles in the UK!….now read on

Nozzle size matters and yes they are different!

Try to avoid putting the wrong fuel in your diesel car or van by noticing some basic things about the fuel pumps on the garage forecourt.

take the time to look at the difference nozzles that you see on fuel pumps on the garage forecourt

the petrol nozzle (on the end of the filler)  is narrow,  the diesel one is much wider

Yes size does matter.

Usually you cannot fit the diesel nozzle into a petrol car filler;  unfortunately the petrol  nozzle will fit into your diesel car.

What to do if you misfuel

If you do put petrol into a diesel car it is unlikely to cause  any damage if you have only started the engine for  a few minutes
do not top up the petrol with diesel and try to drive. it might end up causing expensive damage.

if you have put in say 40 litres of petrol get a specialist to help you drain the tank….. this is not a diy job

Don’t phone a main dealer – you might get rinsed!

Beware of scare stories some people will tell you. Some dealers have been accused of doing work that wasn’t  necessary…
“If you have misfueld you will often phone your dealership, who will most likely ask you to have the car recoverd to them for “extensive repairs”….. this is normally unnecessary.”

The First thing to do is…….
always consider getting a fuel drain first then decide if any damage has been done

What about alternative fuel?


Biofuel is an excellent idea once again it seems to work better in the older type of diesel engine.
biofuel seems to work better in some engines than others. some diesel specialists claim that it damages injectors and pumps  as well as things like rubber hoses and seals

Red diesel

beware of red diesel it is illegal its leaves a trace in your tank if you are stopped by customs and excise the fine is likely to be heavy.

Stolen diesel

beware of stolen diesel it is often contaminated with water

Diesel engine problems

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Solve your diesel engine problems with these easy checks!

Make Your Car Start and Run Better and Go Further


diesel engine“My car is difficult to start and it seems to have lost power!”

DIfficult starting and loss of power are among  the most common  diesel engine problems people get with their cars.


Check for:

  • Air leaks in pipes and connectors.
  • Pay close attention to air intake pipes, mass air flow meter and turbo connecting pipes.

Check for:

  • Dirty or clogged filters.
  • Diesel fuel is contaminating so regular maintenance is important. diesel engine air filter
  • Main filters to change are Fuel, Air and Oil. Fuel contains impurities so fuel filter maintenance will minimize this.
  • Change oilf filter on a regular basis to reduce engine wear to a minimum.
  • Diesel engines rely on compression to function ; clean top quality oil will keep the engine running at it’s best.

Some engines have extra filters (eg BMW diesel ) check service manual for these.

Check for:

diesel engine injector nozzle

  • Worn and/or sticking injector nozzles. Diesel injectors  give very good service overall but will eventually require replacement.
  • Common rail diesel is quiet and effeicient but is operating at very high pressure so expect to change injectors when mileage passes 100k mark (this figure will vary depending on maintenance, driving style etc. )

Check for:

  • Electrical connexions. Modern diesels are electronically controlled so electrical connexions are very important. Always check for electronic faults if you have diesel engine problems.

Check for:
Problems with the turbo.

  • Modern turbos are under pretty savage operating pressure.

Due to increasing demand for more power from smaller and smaller engines and ever  stricter emission controls turbos are spinning at high revs.

  • They are also under electronic control and this can give problems.

Diesel engine problems often involve faulty sensors or regulators.

Check for:

  • Common symptoms of sensor or regulator failure are engine cutting out regularly and unexpectedly. It will usually start OK.
    Also engine will usually run OK when under load but cut out when no throttle.

If car fails to start EOBD check is best course of action.
Diagnostics will often show fuel pressure sensor/regulator problem.

Diesel engine problems  in older cars involving difficult starting 

Check for:

  • Defective glow plugs. Indirect diesel engines are fitted with glow pluglow plug diesel enginegs for cold start. Difficult starting may be down to one or more defective glow plugs.


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(c) Andy Hewing B.Sc. February 2010