What to do if you put the wrong fuel in a van

Whether you own a diesel or a petrol model, you’ll make trips to the nearest fuel station. As well as remembering which side the fuel cap is on, don’t forget which type of fuel your engine uses.

The AA claims that UK motorists accidentally use the wrong pump every 3.5 minutes on average. The RAC says it’s three minutes, and affects close to 150,000 drivers a year. You could be more susceptible if you regularly drive several different vehicles or visit several petrol stations.

When petrol and diesel mix, they create a solvent.

Some vans now come with ‘misfuelling’ technology, which alerts you if you try to fill up with the wrong fuel.

If you realise the mistake before driving off, do not start the ignition or attempt to drive. Switching on the ignition will mix the two fuels together within the fuel system, potentially harming other parts of your car. After a longer period, this could mean your van’s entire engine system needs replacing.

Otherwise, you may discover the error when the van suddenly stops working.

Call a recovery service as soon as you can, to have the fuel tank drained safely.

If you put petrol into a diesel van

This mistake is more common, as vans are more likely to be diesel powered.

If left uncorrected, having petrol in a diesel tank could severely damage the fuel pump. Diesel works as a lubricant to keep the pump working smoothly. A petrol-diesel mix would have the opposite effect.

If you put diesel into a petrol van

At many petrol stations, the diesel fuel nozzle is larger than the petrol one. This leaves literally less room for error, as the nozzle might not fit into the tank opening.

Diesel can quickly cause damage to direct-injection petrol engines. As fuel is brought into the engine system more directly, the effects of misfuelling appear much sooner.

How to prevent topping up with the wrong fuel

  • As well as checking the colour of the fuel hose and nozzle, look at the fuel grade on the pump itself and the label on the trigger.
  • Try not to visit a fuel station when you’re tired, stressed, or otherwise distracted.
  • When using a hire van or courtesy car, find ways to remind yourself that the vehicle is different and may need different fuel.
  • If you own a diesel-powered model, have an accessory fitted that makes it impossible to put a petrol nozzle into the tank.

Discover a range of vans at Vanwise

You can always find quality petrol and diesel vans at our Vanwise locations. Our fully qualified technicians are on-hand to help with engine and fuel system concerns. Visit or call one of our teams in Dunstable, Maidstone and Harlow.


[KP1]Source: https://www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/advice/wrong...

[KP2]Source: http://www.rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/wrong-fuel-re...