On a daily basis, most of us drive a car or truck that requires regular, unleaded gasoline. This makes it pretty simple when we fill up at the gas station. But every once in awhile, someone may accidentally fill their vehicle with a different gasoline than usual.
What should you do if this happens?
Most of today’s vehicles are technologically advanced enough to tell the difference between lower octane gas and higher octane gas (regular and premium); cars and trucks have electronic fuel management systems that will notice the switch and adjust the ignition timing and fuel injection to cope.
If you usually fill your tank up with 87-octane gasoline and you accidentally put in a higher octane blend (say, 91, 92, or 93), don’t worry. You’re actually filling your car or truck with a different blend of gas, which means it will burn differently in your engine. You may feel a difference in the way the vehicle runs and may notice an improvement in gas mileage, but that’s about all that will happen.
Premium Gas Vehicles
If your car or truck manufacturer recommends premium gasoline for your car and you put in regular, don’t panic. Just because premium is recommended doesn’t mean you have to use it; you can easily use regular gas without compromising the engine.
However, if your manufacturer requires premium gasoline and you put in regular, you may have some problems. Depending on how advanced your vehicle’s fuel system is and other factors like how your engine is tuned, what the timing is, and how hot it runs determines how your car or truck will handle regular gas. In most cases, the vehicle will run fine, but you may experience less power and a decrease in gas mileage. In more serious cases, you may hear engine knocking or valve chatter because the fuel isn’t burning right. These things could damage your engine and you should take it to your mechanic.
Diesel fuel is very different than unleaded fuel, and it’s important that you pay attention to which your vehicle requires.
If your vehicle requires diesel fuel and you accidentally put in unleaded, the unleaded fuel will actually remove the lubrication that diesel provides for the car’s parts. That means the parts will grate against each other and cause big damage.
If the opposite happens and you fill your regular gas-car with diesel, the damage may not be as bad, but you’ll only get a few miles down the road before the engine cough, sputters, and loses power. You’ll need to flush out your fuel lines and refill the car or truck with diesel, but you’ll be able to drive it again.
If you’ve filled your car with the wrong type of gas and haven’t turned it on yet, do yourself a favor and don’t. Once the wrong fuel is drawn up into the fuel lines, you’ll experience engine damage. Instead, call a mechanic and have them rectify the situation.