Misfuelling: What to Do if You Put in the Wrong Fuel

 

Misfuelled car

Putting the wrong type of fuel in the car costs British motorists at least £150 million a year.  Somebody puts diesel in a petrol tank or vice versa every one minute and 45 seconds, meaning 300,000 vehicles a year need to be repaired.” Life is hurried and mistakes are easy to make.  Along with locking your keys in the car and ignoring your check engine light for a little too long, using the wrong fuel is an all too common accident.  This mistake doesn’t have to be a financial disaster.  A good game plan and well put together insurance policy can save the day.

READ MORE: 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Insurance

What to do if this happens to you:

Your next action depends on when you notice your mistake.  If you are at the gas station and catch the error at the pump, that’s the best case scenario.  Whatever you do, do not turn on the car’s ignition.  If you have not started the car, the wrong fuel has not yet made it to the engine.  You will need to have the tank drained and replace the fuel with the correct type.  Some road side assistance companies like AAA may offer this service.  There are also companies that offer this specific service such as Wrong Fuel Angels in the U.K.  For a flat price this company will come to your location and drain and replace your fuel.

If you don’t notice your refueling mistake until you are on the road, your car will likely sputter and stop working.  If you put diesel fuel in a regular gas tank the car will run until the gas runs out.  When the diesel fuel reaches the engine, the car will stop.  If you put regular gas into a diesel tank serious damage can occur.  Diesel gas acts as a lubricant while regular gas acts as a solvent.  The solvent action of regular gas can destroy a diesel engine.  In either case, once the wrong fuel reaches the engine it can cause extensive and expensive damage.  As your car tries to run without the necessary fuel, the various parts can become damaged.  If it reaches this point you may be forced to replace the fuel injector, filters and maybe even the engine itself.

What can you do to protect yourself?

First and foremost, don’t assume this can’t happen to you.  Many people find themselves in this predicament, as it is an easy mistake to make.  Colored handles are not a guarantee of gas type.  Some diesel handles will be green but this is not true every time.  Misfuelling can happen and not be the car owner’s fault.  At a gas station in Buckeye, Arizona a delivery driver actually filled the regular gas storage with diesel fuel.  This created a situation where unsuspecting drivers were using the wrong fuel without even realizing it. Whether it is through your actions or a gas station employee’s, filling up with the wrong fuel is more common than you may think.

Secondly, be proactive.  Reach out to your insurance agent and your roadside assistance carrier and see what coverage you have.  Your roadside assistance provider may be able to offer courtesy draining and replacement fuel or extend this service for a charge.  Or, it may not be offered at all.  You should call your provider and ask for service details and pricing.  Have a plan with either your current roadside carrier or a third party servicer in place, just in case.

Insurance policies vary drastically so work with an experienced agent to understand your coverage.  Policies in any form may have various levels of coverage: many may only cover the draining and replacing and the wrong fuel.  Any damage from driving might either fall under the accidental damage portion of your policy or not be covered at all.. Many companies are tightening their standards and writing policies to expressly exclude damage from misfuelling.  Ask your agent to review your documents and look for wrong fuel coverage.  It is unlikely that your existing policy will pay for the cost of draining and replacing the wrong fuel and all car damage such as a new engine and parts.  The good news is you have additional options to help you obtain more coverage.

While it’s unlikely to have all of the damage of misfuelling covered under your existing policy, there may be a rider available that could extend your existing coverage. Your standard policy does not usually allow for a lot of customization.  A rider is an addition to your policy that provides additional coverage for an increased premium.  You should work with your agent to see if the cost of coverage is worth the additional peace of mind.

If a rider is not available, you may purchase misfuelling coverage as a stand-alone policy.  Going this route will probably cost you more in premiums but could save you a bundle in the long run.  Using a stand-alone policy you can probably get all your family vehicles covered.  If you have multiple vehicles that take different types of fuel you may be more likely to put the wrong type of fuel in the wrong car.  Review your Casa Grande auto insurance policy options and see if there is a cost effective stand-alone policy available.

Using the wrong fuel in your vehicle is a common accident.  A little prior planning can help you save money and know exactly who to call if this unfortunate event happens to you.  Work with your Casa Grande insurance agent to make sure that your coverage is exactly what you need in the event of a misfuelling mistake.

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Steve Gebhardt

Gebhardt Insurance Group was honored by AAA Insurance for being the top New Policy Agency in Arizona for 2013 and achieving the "Emerald Achievement Award."
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