Diesel in a gasoline engine

Jasdip

I was paying for my gas and a girl came in and asked if they could double-check to see if she put the right gas in her car. She was afraid she'd pumped diesel instead of gasoline.

After discerning which pump and the colour of the handle, she did indeed. $31 worth.

Now what?? What happens to her engine? I always thought diesel nozzles wouldn't fit in our cars, they were bigger.

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Michael

I doubt the gasoline engine would start and if it does, it won't go far before fouling the plugs and stalling the engine. Hopefully she had it towed to a shop where they can drain the tank and fuel lines and flush them clean.

Where I live, diesel fuel nozzles are larger and will not fit inside unleaded filler pipes.

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Raye Smith

It's probably too late but she should have it towed to her mechanic where they could drop the gas tank. If she cranked it up it's too late.

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Elmer J Fudd

She shouldn't start the car. It should be towed to a garage where the fuel tank needs to be emptied and cleaned and the pump and all fuel lines cleaned or replaced.

Newer gasoline car filler openings do have a frame with a small opening with a flapper valve that the nozzle needs to fit into and open but I think these are new over the last decade or so. I suspect a diesel filler wouldn't fit, perhaps that's what it's for.

We've had diesel autos (not trucks) for most of the last 40 years off and on and have one now. I know about the large diameter fillers you see on some nozzles but I think these are intended for trucks and I've only seen them at truck stops. They don't work well to fill diesel cars, the liquid comes out too fast.

Diesel nozzles at regular gas stations (usually green around here and without the vapor shrouds that gas nozzles have) would fit in gas fillers not that long ago because there were times I got as far as grabbing a diesel nozzle when filling up one of my gas cars and realized the mistake before squeezing the handle.

Here's an article about diesel fuel mistakenly put into a gas station's in ground tank last month at Lake Tahoe.

https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/south-lake-tahoe-gas-station-has-pump-mix-up-for-several-days/

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colleenoz

Here diesel nozzles are fatter and there's a sort of push-down catch you have to press to release the diesel filler head. It would be much easier to mistakenly put gasoline into a diesel tank, though that would have much more serious consequences.

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Michael

I took a grandchild to piano lessons and decided to tour the three stations in town. Every station has the diesel fuel pumps located on separate islands, across the lot from the gasoline pumps.

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Elmer J Fudd

I hope you're not suggesting that because it's that way in your small town with three stations that it's that way everywhere.

For more than 30 of the last 40 years, my family cars have included at least one diesel, including now. Where I live, there can be three gas stations on one street corner.

The diesel filler is not just on the same island, it's on the same pump. Attached is a photo I found in an instant showing a green diesel nozzle (as I said above) on the left of the pump and a gas one (with a vapor shroud, also previously mentioned) on the right. I can tell you from personal experience, many times, that with this most common configuration at all gas stations that sell diesel, it's all too easy early in the morning to grab the wrong nozzle for the car you're driving. As I said, I always stopped short of squeezing he trigger.

I probably haven't been to a station with a diesel pump off by itself for decades.


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Elizabeth

For the fuel in the above pump you would have to make two mistakes. Pushing the green diesel button and grabbing the green handle..........It is automatic ( to me at least) to hit the octane number

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Elmer J Fudd

When you have both gas and diesel cars that you drive and refuel on alternate occasions, nothing is "automatic". Especially not early in the morning if you haven't had enough sleep and your mind is thinking about the work day ahead. Trust me, it's easily done.

Even now for me in retirement with more sleep and less stress, it still takes us a bit more thought than most others need to have when at a gas station. Especially since our two gas cars take different gas - one regular, one premium. So each car is a special little snowflake.

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Michael

I hope you're not suggesting that because it's that way in your small town with three stations that it's that way everywhere.

Not at all. Nor do I care what configuration your gas stations use or how many you have on each corner. I'm saying in my town, you'd have to be very distracted in order to put diesel in a gasoline engine car.

Even now for me in retirement with more sleep and less stress, it still
takes us a bit more thought than most others need to have when at a gas
station.

I can see how that may happen in older age, but it was a girl who did it. Maybe a new driver? Maybe.


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Elizabeth

I am thinking that the driver was absent-minded that day or distracted. Not the best state of mind to be in while driving. Hopefully she had the vehicle towed to a garage and was done driving that day! Sounds like an expensive lesson to learn.

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nickel_kg

I hope the person got a good answer in time to prevent a costly result.

Funny, most times now I buy gas at a Sheetz type place -- the kind that has gas pumps but the main draw is the food/convenience store. I doubt any of their personnel would know more about fuel than I do, which is next to nothing.

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ont_gal

Altho not an expert by any means, I do know diesel in a gas engine will not do as much damage as gas in a diesel engine will do. Where I live, all gas stations have diesel pumps, but they're always a ways away from the gasoline pumps,.

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Elmer J Fudd

nickel, here's something to know about gasoline. There are detergents in gas to keep engines free of deposits. Some brands of gas add more detergents than others do. A standard has been established, called Top Tier Gas, for gas brands who commit to adding specified greatly increased amounts of detergents to the gas they sell. Most car manufacturers recommend the use of Top Tier gas because the detergents provide better economy and better engine performance. Many off brands do not meet the standard and their use will degrade engine performance.

This all started about 15 years ago, I learned about it with a higher performance foreign car that said to use Top Tier only. The list was short then, now it's long and includes all major brands. Here are a few bits of info:


Top Tier gas recommended because of results in tests

Top Tier website listing brands

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nickel_kg

Thanks Elmer -- I'm pleased to see Costco on there. My family is beyond frugal when it comes to gas, but often they will go to Costco to fill up. So I'm glad they're getting a quality product. (Unless it's a penny cheaper at a no-name station across town ... !)

DH is more into cars than I am, and has me trained to look for an Exxon or Shell, if we don't need a coffee & donut fix from Sheetz.

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Elmer J Fudd

nickel, it sounds like going to Costco will be better both for the car and for you! Unless you go inside to get a hot dog.

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arkansas girl

This is changing the subject of the OP but when my husband had his Saturn SC2, kind of a sporty little car, he swore he could only use Speedway's gas...I thought that he was being ridiculous until we got gas somewhere else and the thing ran like carp!!!!! He always used the mid-grade gas.

Back on subject, I cannot believe anyone could mistake the diesel pump for regular gas...how does someone do that? Maybe it's time to give up the driver's license! They probably have no business being behind the wheel of a car if they are THAT confused!

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Elmer J Fudd

ark girl, if you think about it, there might be 10 or more different gas brands in your area, but not 10 or more local refineries or pipeline terminals. In the downstream business, companies trade/sell raw product among one another in different geographies. Company A may have a supply in one region but Company B doesn't, and somewhere else the roles are reversed. If it's going to a 76 statiion, put in additives A B and C. If to a Shell station, put in B C and F. Etc. The gas part of the gas is the same.

Some retailer brands have no upstream business and are buying their gas from others at all times anyway. .

Two major variables in gasoline quality - what additives and how much (added before the delivery trucks are filled) and gas tank maintenance at the station to reduce debris in the gas. You can cover the first by buying Top Tier gas, and the second by going to stations that are busy and have filters on the hoses. Otherwise, the gasoline part of the gasoline is pretty identical from one to another.

Speedway is just one name among dozens, nothing special.

Always use the octane level recommended in the owners manual. A common fallacy, using a higher octane than required doesn't give the car more power and may cause damage.

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graywings123

arkansas girl, Speedway is a Top Tier gasoline, which means it has a detergent additive.

Top Tier gasoline

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Elmer J Fudd

All gas has detergent additives, Top Tier has an increased amount.

No car "runs better", per se, on one brand of gas than another, everything else being equal, because they're all the same as far as power and running an engine is concerned. Using a Top Tier gas will keep the engine freer from deposits and allow the engine to run more efficiently. Unless a car has a deposit problem and is just beginning to get Top Tier gas, one Top Tier brand is the same as all the others. That was my comment.

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Ladydi Zone 7A NW BC Canada

Elmer, your response made me go looking for information and learned alot about the gas we put in our cars. It helped me win an arguement I had with someone about higher octane not making a difference in a car's engine performance when it recommendsed it use regular gas. Thanks.

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arkansas girl

Well Elmer, I'm here to tell ya, the car ran like crud on the other gas! So, whatever you want to make out of that...go for it! I didn't believe it either until I saw it with my own eyes. I said "hey, just get high grade at the Sam's Club" because it was more convenient. It took running that tank of gas out of the car and putting the Speedway's mid-grade in it before it started running smoothly again.

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Elmer J Fudd

I believe you but if the octane rating of the gas was the same, the gas was the same. If it ran differently at some point, it wasn't because of the gas.

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arkansas girl

Some things are just explainable I suppose. I definitely WAS the gas and it happened in both of his Saturn SC2s exactly the same.

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marylmi

I took a friend to pick up her diesel truck from a repair shop. They were ready to close so she hurried to pay, then she went across the street to the gas station. I thought I might as well fill up too and when I drove in she had pulled up to a pump and was putting in fuel. I hurried and parked and ran over yelling " stop" as I could see she was putting in regular gasoline. About that time the mechanic pulled up to get gas so I told him she had put in about two gallons of regular gas and ....what should she do? He said if it was only that amount, to go ahead and top it off with diesel fuel. He thought it would be ok and it was , as she didn't have any problems because of it. Had she filled up then a different story. She had a car that took regular gas so she just wasn't thinking!

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Jasdip

My step-father thought that the best thing he could do for his car was to use premium grade, even though it didn't call for it. A few years later the catalytic converter was shot and it was the premium gas. If the engines don't require it, don't use it.

Years ago, I'd buy Sunoco gas (no longer around) on my way home from work. My car wouldn't start after a while in the winter, and the fuel pump was frozen. Sunoco was bad for having water in their fuel.

I've been using Canadian Tire gas for eons, my cars have run fine on it. I mentioned it to someone and he said that was okay, as a name-brand gas Shell? I can't remember, that delivers it to them.

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ritaweeda

Before our current VW we had a diesel Jetta that was totaled in a head-on. Here the diesel is usually on the left hand side and the pump is green with green handle hood and hose like the photo above. I can see where a person might confuse them if they have a gas powered vehicle also but not if the diesel is the only vehicle they have. My biggest beef with it was, VW's have the gas tank on the passenger side, like many other foreign makes. Therefore if the gas station is busy and a lot of pick-ups use diesel, trying to jockey your place in line is a real pain because you are going the opposite direction than everyone else. I liked it when some of the stations had separate pumps for diesel only but they are far and few between.

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Elmer J Fudd

rita, I've driven only European cars of various makes for the last 40 years and all had the fuel filler on the right side. My wife has had a few Japanese cars during that time, those always seem to be on the left.

Rightly or wrongly, I've thought maybe it was because of what used to be seen frequently in European cities, and also in Japan - gas pumps on the sidewalk. In Japan they drive on the opposite side of the road from us - same as in the British Isles - and that was consistent with having the fillers on the left.

American cars? I don't know, I haven't owned one since high school. FYI - when you have a rental car you're unfamiliar with, there's a little arrow next to the fuel gauge display that indicates what side the filler is on.


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ritaweeda

I don't know if there are any now, but back in the 60's when I pumped gas at a car wash, there were some that were in the rear - you pulled down the license plate to get to it. We had a Toyota back in the 70's and I'm pretty sure it was on the right but I might be wrong. All I can say is it's a pain to try to get to a pump when there is high traffic, no-one wants to let you in because they think you're going the wrong way.

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chisue

arkansas girl -- I, too, have noticed a difference in performance between a tank of gas from another local filling station and what we normally get at Costco -- more than just once. There are several possible reasons I can think of, starting with deliberate fraud, and going to some human error, like the bulk delivery truck didn't put the right formula in the right tank -- more than once, though? We have a choice of BP, Mobil, Shell, and Costco.

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