CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Using the wrong gas

What would happen if you put diesel fuel in a car that should have regular (87) fuel? I know that the pump won’t fit but I know a clueless one who held the nozzle over the hole and added about 8 gallons to her tank. She was able to drive away but soon after began to sound funny. Good thing she pulled over and turned it off. It wouldn’t restart. Did her Honda Civic sense the wrong gas and protect the engine? The car is at the dealer now and we’re waiting for the diagnosis.

Lol no “her” car doesn’t sense it has the wrong fuel. It just isn’t able to burn diesel with sparkplugs. “She” would have to drain or syphon the tank, and flush out the diesel in the fuel lines, and add fresh gasoline.

Diesel into a gasoline car won’t hurt anything, although obviously as she has learned diesel doesn’t go “boom” in a gasoline engine. Draining the fuel tank and flushing the fuel system should be simple enough, although at the dealer it’ll probably be at least a hundred bucks.

I’d bet more like $300. They will sell her all sorts of flush services as part of the “repair.”

thanks for your reply. the dealer just checked in with the bad news. Yes, we must flush everything and replace the fuel pump, injectors and plugs. Also a thorough cleaning of the top of the engine. If anyone thinks I’m getting hosed, I’d like to know and I’ll make a complaint against the Honda dealership that’s doing the work. They’re asking $2100.00.

I for one, think you’re getting hosed. I would want to see how diesel damaged the injectors, pump, plugs, and top of engine. (it can’t, and it didn’t) You need to take it somewhere else, if it’s not too late (not a dealer) for a realisic bid. When the dealer hears of someone doing that, making a mistake, they know the culprit (victim) expects to pay for their error, so they take advantage of the situation. It’s sad. Even if you got rid of most of the diesel, and filled the tank full of gasoline, if you could purge most of the diesel out of the fuel rail through the schrader valve, and get the car started, it would run plenty good enough until all of the diesel was burned off. THose are the facts. But Honda Corporate might have a policy or some other type of official steps or measure they take when someone adds diesel to a gasoline car, and not have sympathy for you. It wouldn’t hurt to complain, but they might say “the diesel leaves a residue that is detrimental to the injectors, etc.” Of course that is all hogwash. But they are in the business of making money. And the service departments are really good at it. Sometimes at your (our) expense. Good luck.

That’s nuts. Most likely, all you need to do is drain the tank and fill it back up with gas. If they’re not willing to go through the simple steps first, take it somewhere else.

Thanks. I’ll complain and see if I can get them to reassess the situation.

They shouldn’t need to do all of that stuff!! Drain the diesel out of the tank, purge the lines (disconnect the fuel lines at the engine, run a hose from there into a collection can, run the fuel pump), change the fuel filter, and you’re done. Once gasoline is flowing through the lines again the engine should start; it’ll just smoke a ton while it clears out the diesel still in the cylinders.

But new fuel pump, injectors, etc? No way. Go somewhere else.

thanks. the concensus is that the Honda Dealer is taking advantage.

Wow-- boy were you ever right.

Be thankful it was not the other way around. Gasoline in a diesel car can cause a lot more damage.

By the way don’t count on the nozzle not fitting.

You are right. Just last week, I was filling up. After selecting the gas grade, I wasn’t paying particular attention and grabbed the diesel nozzle. It fit into the filler tube, and only when no “gas” was being pumped did I realize that I had the wrong nozzle.