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Petrol in a diesel car – misfueling.

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Old Jul 4th, 2009, 21:54   #1
NCS XC90
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Default Petrol in a diesel car – misfueling.

Just thought I would post this in case anyone else is stupid enough to make the same mistake as me and put petrol into a diesel D5 tank on an XC90.
Last night I decided to top up the tank as I was going on a long journey today. I have no defence or reason but picked up the petrol nozzle and put 26L of petrol into my car. This raised the fuel level in the tank to the brim.
Not realising I drove the car home (about 1 to 2 miles). No problems or unusual engine issues on the way. Got inside and put the receipt away when I noticed the “unleaded” on the receipt. I went out to look at the car about an hour after I came home and tried to crank for a normal period of time and the car did not start (I was going to put it in the garage so I could look to drain the tank).
With guidance from Mike (big thanks) and others on here I drained the tank by taking of the small finger tight nut at the bottom of the fuel filter situated in front of the back wheel on the off side. I managed to drain approximately 45L through this hole (it took about 3 hrs to do this) by just putting containers underneath it and letting the fuel flow out. After the 45L the flow stopped. This left 25L still in the tank. When looking under the car there is only one tank but its split into two as it goes over the propshaft onto each side. I decided that the remaining 25L was still in the tank on the far side but could not see a way of getting it out.
Others may not agree with this but I am simply relaying my experiences. The get the remaining 25L out I had to turn the ignition on so the fuel pump would pump the fuel from the near side to equal the level on both sides of the propshaft (which I believe it does normally). It took another 1.5hrs to 2 hrs to get the remaining 25L of fluid out of the car.
From here I have simply filled it back up with diesel (won’t make the same mistake again) and started the car. To be fair the car did need a bit of cracking which I did in short bursts. It made one attempt to start and then died again. After this a few more cranks and the car started and settled down quickly. I left it ticking over for 15mins and then went out in it. All seems normal to me but wife says it sound quieter (it isn’t but it did make me laugh).
I realise there will be people who feel I have not done this correctly but I just thought I would write down my experience for future reference. At present the car seems just fine. If this changes in the coming months I will attach an update to this to warn others. If no update please assume I got away with it and all is well.
Hope it helps someone – but the best advice I can give is spend that extra second to check you are holding the right nozzle when it comes to filling up. That way you don’t spend a day sh!tting yourself that the engine is knackered.
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 07:34   #2
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It sounds like your hard work paid off!

A few years ago I bought an ex company car (Peugeot 406 diesel) with the complete service history on a print out which showed that the previous user had twice put petrol in and twice the whole fuel system had been changed at a massive cost.

As far as I know, putting diesel in a petrol just causes loads of smoke until the engine stops, then after everything is flushed out its all ok again.
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 08:24   #3
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Yes thats a good way of doing it if you have the time to spare and dont mind sitting there turning the ignition on and off to pump the fuel over from the other side ... It wont have done any harm to any components , you could have fitted a new fuel filter but they seem pretty hardy ...
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 10:33   #4
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Clan,
Thanks did think about the fuel filter but I couldn't wait for one to arrive before I knew the car would start so skipped this stage in my planned routine. I've never looked at diesel before (I know that seems a strange thing to say) but I was really surprised how similar diesel and petrol are to look at. I thought diesel was a much darker liquid. Also rocking them around in a container the viscosity is not as different as I would have imagined. Anyway lesson learnt although I think I will be reminded of this day my friends and family for many a year.
Neil
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 12:54   #5
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18 months ago I had a Merc 280CDI estate (1 year old) and one Friday afternoon I went to refuel it. Because the tank was virtually empty I managed to put almost 80 liters in.
After paying I drove off (bit fast, was in a rush) until 2 miles down the road a big cloud of white smoke appeared in the rear view mirror and the engine just died.

I was convinced I had not put unleaded in the tank and to "prove" it to myself I looked at the receipt. This was just a VISA slip with only the amount on it, so it didn't prove anything.
Phoned the Merc dealer who sounded quite amused and suggested I had indeed put unleaded in it. He advised to phone assistance via the Insurance co.

So I did and whilst waiting for the flatbed truck I undid the fuel cap and indeed "Smells like unleaded"!

The chap from the recovery truck told me I was the 19th person to do this in that week alone and according to AA figures the total is about 100.000 people a year.
This made me feel only slightly better.

The Merc dealer said don't worry, we'll just drain the tank, flush the lines and it'll be fine.
So it was but I still sold the car a few months later !

Never will I laugh at other people who do this again.
When I refuel the XC90 now, I check, check again, check the price, check that the nozzle is actually coming from the correct pump etc etc.

Afterwards it turned out that Total has an "Excellium" unleaded which is dearer and which has a black handle+nozzle to distinguish it from their ordinary unleaded but which makes it look very much like Diesel !

At least that's my explanation........
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 13:12   #6
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Just a side point - I filled up at the local ASDA and it was the first time in years I had actually seen the Diesel cheaper than the Unleaded (100.9 against 101.9). So ended up paying more for the fuel and then having to drain it all out.
I'm going to look into these devices that stop you putting in the wrong nozzle but I cannot see me making the same mistake again. If I do I won't be admiting it on here . I still cannot believe I've done this.
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 18:03   #7
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You can blame that speculator who lost his firm $10million, betting on Brent crude future prices.
Looks like ASDA bought the lot!
You could try sueing him!
It's only money!
and time!
and dirty hands!
and loss of face/reputation!

Sounds like a good case to me!
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 19:18   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Parish View Post
It sounds like your hard work paid off!

A few years ago I bought an ex company car (Peugeot 406 diesel) with the complete service history on a print out which showed that the previous user had twice put petrol in and twice the whole fuel system had been changed at a massive cost.

As far as I know, putting diesel in a petrol just causes loads of smoke until the engine stops, then after everything is flushed out its all ok again.
In the mid 1980s while on a cross country trip, I put diesel in a 1981 petrol 4-cyl carburetted Pontiac Phoenix. My wife noticed what I was doing and alerted me after I had delivered maybe 6 gal of diesel into the ~14-gal tank. I filled it up the rest of the way with premium petrol, and we just went on our way. As I recall the engine knocked a little under even moderate accelerator pressure, so I drove with a light foot. I filled up again with premium when the tank got to near half full and I think the knocking stopped. There was seemingly no damage to the engine because the car went for years and years after that.
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Old Jul 5th, 2009, 19:21   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Parish View Post
It sounds like your hard work paid off!

A few years ago I bought an ex company car (Peugeot 406 diesel) with the complete service history on a print out which showed that the previous user had twice put petrol in and twice the whole fuel system had been changed at a massive cost.

As far as I know, putting diesel in a petrol just causes loads of smoke until the engine stops, then after everything is flushed out its all ok again.
In the mid 1980s while on a cross country trip, I put diesel in a 1981 petrol 4-cyl carburetted Pontiac Phoenix. My wife noticed what I was doing and alerted me after I had delivered maybe 6 gal of diesel into the ~14-gal tank. I filled it up the rest of the way with premium petrol, and we just went on our way. As I recall the engine knocked a little under even moderate accelerator pressure, so I drove with a light foot. I filled up again with premium when the tank got to near half full and I think the knocking stopped. There was seemingly no damage to the engine because the car went for years and years after that.

What percent of petrol in diesel fuel can a diesel engine run on, and without damage?
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Old Jul 6th, 2009, 12:01   #10
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Default Unleaded Fuel Ratio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim314 View Post
In the mid 1980s while on a cross country trip, I put diesel in a 1981 petrol 4-cyl carburetted Pontiac Phoenix. My wife noticed what I was doing and alerted me after I had delivered maybe 6 gal of diesel into the ~14-gal tank. I filled it up the rest of the way with premium petrol, and we just went on our way. As I recall the engine knocked a little under even moderate accelerator pressure, so I drove with a light foot. I filled up again with premium when the tank got to near half full and I think the knocking stopped. There was seemingly no damage to the engine because the car went for years and years after that.

What percent of petrol in diesel fuel can a diesel engine run on, and without damage?
This is an old bushy fix

Not sure of the exact ratio, however many sets of injectors have been cleaned by adding unleaded fuel into a diesel fuel tank. Believe the usual methodology is to not exceed 10% of the the total volume.

Unleaded creates a hotter fuel ignition temperature therefore burning away carbon deposits, cant comment on the long term effects of this process.
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