This morning I was on my way to office and stopped at a Total petrol pump for fuel. I asked the attendant for petrol and the guy in usual station uniform asked a guy in plain cloths to fill petrol in my bike. I could see that that guy was new and nervous. He tried couple of times to press preset amount buttons on the dispenser but it wasn’t working. He asked me to move my bike to another dispenser, and lifted the nozzle and started filling bike’s tank. He slightly moved the nozzle outwards so I could see the fuel pouring in, and the first thing that came into my mind, “that’s not petrol!!”
Yup! The new guy had filled diesel in petrol tank of my bike. Long story short, the manager of the station got it sorted for me. They emptied the tank and filled it with petrol. This is not about the operator’s gaffe or my wasted time etc. It was a human error and those happen. He was new at the job and got confused. Station management cooperated and rectified their mistake. All’s well that ends well.
The point I want to discuss is, what if I had started the bike if I hadn’t noticed the blunder by the pump operator. What sort of damage wrong fuel can do your car/bike. To put it in a one sentence, ‘it can ruin your day’. You can bet on the fact that you won’t be reaching on time wherever you were traveling to. You will most probably spend your day then finding a mechanic to first empty out the tank and then fill it with petrol. And depending on your luck, there is a possibility misfueling can lead to a possible a dent to your pocket (depending on your vehicle) as well.
Well, the thing is, diesel and its burning properties are completely different than petrol. Diesel engine works under high compression whereas petrol engines are all about the bang (air+petrol+spark=kaboom). If you have realized something has gone wrong, just don’t start your engine, or in case of electronic fuel pump equipped cars, do not turn on the ignition. The good news, kind of, is it won’t do as much damage as you were fearing it would do. Since it is the spark plugs that are responsible for igniting the charge (mixture of air and petrol), the burning diesel will clog up the spark plugs and fuel system of your vehicle, motorbike in my case. If you start your diesel mixed with petrol vehicle, your vehicle will end up misfiring, emitting smoke from the exhaust when started or dying again and again. In a worse case, it will completely seize to start until you have cleaned the fuel tank and system and poured some fresh good ol’ petrol in the tank. After the cleanup, you might see some smoke from the exhaust depending how much diesel residue is in the system or carburetor. Clean the fuel tank, fill it with petrol, clean the spark plugs if you started the car on diesel and tried to drive it, and you are good to go. Petrol in a diesel car however can lead to engine damage depending on how late you caught the mistake. That is for some other day.
Let us know if you ever ended up with misfueling and how did you sort that out, in the comments section below.