Petrol in a diesel car: Symptoms

What are the most common petrol in a diesel car symptoms? We have compiled a list of the usual signs and indications that there might be petrol in your diesel car.

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Petrol in diesel symptoms

Petrol in a diesel car symptoms

Modern diesel engines are far more complicated than they were ten to fifteen years ago. Thanks to the computer-age there have been fantastic advances in making them more economical, quieter, and even cleaner. However this also means that a modern diesel motor is more tricky to diagnose when it starts to go wrong.

An engine that is running lumpy, misfiring, or just not sounding or feeling right could be suffering from a number of different maladies. These problems could be as a result of a whole range of causes such as a clogged air filter, damaged exhaust sensors, insufficient fuel pressure, or a whole host of other things. One factor that most overlook is "bad" fuel.

"Bad" or contaminated fuel is the third most common cause of diesel vehicle roadside breakdowns in the UK. So it would be good to be able to identify the tell-tale signs of it. And it is to that end that this article has been prepared for you.

It could be that you have the sneaking suspicion that you might have accidentally - by mistake - put petrol in your diesel car. But you are don't know for sure and you really want to find out before you pay a garage hundreds of pounds in labour charges just to diagnose the problem for you.

So, here they are: The most common Petrol in Diesel Symptoms:

  • Engine starting to cough, bunny-hop or chug. It will seem that it gets brief spurts of fuel and then none at all.
  • Lack of throttle power. Despite pressing the accelerator there is very little thrust coming from the engine. This includes the engine going into limp-mode where you can't get it to rev over 2,000 RPM.
  • Billowing black smoke. As the petrol/diesel fuel mix does not burn correctly you will see lots of unburnt carbon in the exhaust fumes.
  • Engine cutting out or dying. This is where it just completely stops or stalls and usually follows the above symptoms.
  • Trouble starting or re-starting the vehicle. Once the engine has been off for a while and starts to cool down it can take a definite effort, and many turns of the ignition, for it to fire up again.
  • Illuminated Engine Management Light (EML) and - on more sophisticated vehicles - error messages or codes relating to the fuel system, fuel pressure or injector errors.
  • A strange smell. Petrol and diesel have very differently distinctive smells. Any petrol-head should be able to identify the presence of petrol in a diesel car by smelling the fuel or vapours coming from the filler-neck or filler-cap. And those true professionals can even smell it in the exhaust fumes.

This list details the symptoms most commonly noticed when driving a diesel vehicle on contaminated fuel. If you notice any of these indicators within 24 hours of refueling your diesel car, you should definitely suspect that you have put petrol in your diesel car. And once you suspect that this has happened. the next thing to do is to find out for certain.

The first step to take would be to do a bit of investigatory work: find your last fuel receipt - it will state the fuel type used. Failing that, ask the petrol station where you filled up. They usually keep records and will be able to look up the cashier transaction (if you can remember the pump you used and the time you filled up).

If neither of these are possible the open the fuel cap and smell it. Petrol has a very acrid smell, while diesel is more oily. Try getting another diesel vehicle nearby to compare if you are unsure of what it is supposed to smell like.

As a last resort in this investigative phase give us a call. Our call centre support are used to dealing with hundreds of misfuel cases every week and will be able to give you advice and guidance. We are also able to despatch a technician to assess the vehicle. If he finds that it is suffering from contaminated fuel he will be able to fix it there and then. If the fuel isn't the problem you will simply be charged a small call-out fee for his time.

Petrol in a diesel car

Petrol in a Diesel Car Helpline

Who is Wrong Fuel Drain?

We are a UK national Wrong Fuel Drain service. Our technicians are fully mobile and able to attend any vehicle breakdown in almost any location.

All call staff and roadside technicians are trained in-house on our thorough and stringent wrong fuel and Health & Safety syllabus. This is in addition to any mandatory qualifications they hold for their positions.

We have been operating for over a decade as specialists in the wrong fuel recovery industry, and therefore have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field.

You could not be in safer hands.