What to do if you fill petrol in a diesel car or vice versa?

Ken Sunny
Fuel filling

Mohiuddin Bava, a congress MLA from Mangalore and the managing director of a slew of mining companies, has bought a Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Excellence, reportedly the first such car in India, for Rs 1.65 crore recently. The car made news after a gas station staff put diesel in the petrol car on Monday.

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Gone are the days when petrol bunk staff could figure out a diesel vehicle from the extra engine noise and vibration, as opposed to the petrol mills. With advancement in technology, noise is no longer a reliable parameter to differentiate engines, resulting in more and more such slip-ups.

What happens when you put wrong fuel?

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Though both petrol and diesel are petroleum products, they are as different as chalk and cheese. Diesel is more viscous and does not evaporate easily. Since diesel is heavier, the fuel filter system will get clogged if it gets inside a petrol tank. If the fuel advances further, the fuel injection system will not be able to function seamlessly and the spark plug will fail as well leading to sputtering and eventual stoppage of the engine.

The circulation of wrong fuel will leave many critical components damaged. Insurance won't cover such damages.

What can be done?

You are in luck if you notice the switcheroo before starting the engine, since the wrong fuel is only in the fuel tank and yet to enter engine parts. In that case, cleaning up the fuel tank will do the trick. If you had already fired up the engine, you should immediately drain the wrong fuel from the tank and then crank the engine a few times with the fuel line disconnected, to force out the diesel in the remaining parts. The fuel filter and spark plug should be replaced. Make sure the purging is carried out under the supervision of an authorised mechanic.

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