Gas 911! Put diesel in car...standing at pump right now
May 2, 2018 3:06 PM   Subscribe

just put over 2 gallons of diesel in my unleaded fuel only car. wasn't paying attention. what should I do? Again, literally standing at the pump...
posted by BadgerDoctor to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't start the car. Tell the attendant, organise a mechanic/tow truck/whatever, get the fuel tank flushed out. If you start the car you're apparently screwed.
posted by escapepod at 3:10 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]

Push the car into a parking spot ASAP. Do not start the car.

Do you have AAA or emergency tow service through your insurance? Call them and take the car to your mechanic.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:12 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

Are you sure? The diesel nozzle should be much larger than an unleaded nozzle and should not fit into your tank opening.

The article also says you should remove all the diesel fuel and replace with unleaded. Then crank for a while until it starts. There should not be any damage.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:12 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]

Seconding escapepod. Don't start the car, don't even turn on the ignition at all (the fuel pump turns on in several cars before you start the engine). Get the tank drained.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:13 PM on May 2

OK, obviously escapepod and elsietheeel have different sources that disagree with mine about the degree of damage. Anyway, the diesel must be removed. Then ask somebody at the service station who's qualified, or get a tow to a full-service place.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:14 PM on May 2

good enough, guys. Thanks!
posted by BadgerDoctor at 3:14 PM on May 2

After you get this resolved, I'd like to know how this was possible given that I thought the nozzle size is supposed to prevent this (as Jim says). Maybe your car is older than whatever standard made the nozzle too big for non-diesel cars?
posted by Mid at 3:35 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]

The nozzle on diesel pumps is supposed to be larger so that it cannot fit into the filler pipe on a vehicle tank designed for gasoline. However, the larger diameter diesel nozzles are not an actual requirement, and many diesel pumps at auto islands have been fitted with standard gasoline nozzles.
posted by Lanark at 3:51 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

In the way-back-ago (1970's) my Dad recommended putting a couple gallons of diesel in the empty 20 gallon tank to "lube the top end" and then filling with gas. It smoked a bit, but no other issues. This was before cars and computers began their love affair.
posted by rudd135 at 4:10 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

Motorcyclists do this all the time because our tank openings are big enough to put a diesel nozzle in, with room to spare. The crowd is correct, don't turn your key, have it towed and a mechanic can flush your fuel system.

[Rant: diesel nozzles are also supposed to be color-coded green. Many stations disregard this but BP is the worst - ALL their nozzles are green. I avoid BPs when I'm on a bike because it's that much easier to make this mistake.]
posted by workerant at 5:59 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]

Your probably on your way but for future readers:

I'd just siphon whatever I could out of the tank; fill it back up with gas and go on my way. You are going to get some excessive smoke and poor running but the small amount of diesel left after siphoning diluted by a full tank of gas isn't going to cause any major problems.

Note that your situation is fundamentally different than filling your gas car with diesel and then driving it till it won't run. The diesel you've put in your tank has had no chance to reach your fuel pump internals, fuel injectors, or gas lines because you presumably don't fill your car while it is running. It has just mixed with whatever amount of gas was remaining in your tank and the overwhelming vast majority will come out when you siphon.

The other way around (gas in a diesel engine) is engine destroying; that requires disassembly and flushing.

workerant: "diesel nozzles are also supposed to be color-coded green"

Interesting; Diesel nozzles and pumps in Canada are yellow; something to watch for if you head north.
posted by Mitheral at 9:43 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

> [Rant: diesel nozzles are also supposed to be color-coded green. Many stations disregard this but BP is the worst - ALL their nozzles are green. I avoid BPs when I'm on a bike because it's that much easier to make this mistake.]

It's green for unleaded and black for diesel in Europe, so watch out if you ever come. You'd think that the fact that these oil companies are global (BP is British) would mean this stuff was standardised worldwide.

Red used to be something called 4-star, but that was leaded petrol which got banned long before I was old enough to fill cars with petrol
posted by winterhill at 2:04 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]

Another data point: diesel is yellow at our local reservation's gas station (Northern California).
posted by elsietheeel at 7:20 AM on May 3

top it off with hitest & drive, it will smoke but you only but 2 gals in a what 20+ gal tank? when you get to 3/4 tank fill up again, the idea being to dilute the diesel,
posted by patnok at 2:05 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

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