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What Happens if You Accidentally Put Standard Gas in a Diesel Engine?

If you’re an experienced diesel pickup driver then this is probably something you already know but, at Gem State Diesel, we feel that no question is too silly or obvious. In fact, this is a question that’s asked all over the internet, so we thought we’d answer this question once and for all.

Whether you just pumped up your vehicle with standard gas or you were simply wanting to know what would happen if you did, here’s the answer and how to ensure your pickup doesn’t suffer because of this simple mistake.

What Happens to Your Vehicle When Standard Gas Enters the Tank?

So, you’re at the pump and you completely space out leading you to pump gasoline in your diesel tank. At this point, you may be panicking and thinking to yourself that your pickup is ruined forever. Although this isn’t necessarily true, the next steps you take are insanely important.

However, let’s begin by looking at why diesel and gasoline can’t mix to begin with and what happens when they do.

  • It will offset the molecular balance: For starters, diesel is far thicker than gasoline because it is made up of larger molecules and it also has a much higher flash point and autoignition temperature than gas.

  • The flash point changes: When gasoline mixes with diesel, the first thing it does is change its flash point. This means that the diesel fuel will have a lower flash point and prematurely ignite in the engine which could lead to serious engine damage in the long run.

  • The fuel pump and diesel injectors become damaged: The next thing that will happen if you start your car is that the gasoline will affect the fuel pump and diesel injectors because, unlike diesel, which is an oil, gasoline is a solvent and will react far differently in your engine.

  • The computer sensors will fail: Lastly, running gasoline will also lead to black smoke coming out of your exhaust and your computer sensors being unable to function properly as they will unnecessarily compensate for the gasoline’s lack of lubricity.

Now that you are aware of the major issues you and your vehicle could face by making this mistake, let’s review the steps necessary to avoid a disaster altogether.

What Steps Should You Take Next to Prevent Damage?

Okay, so you’ve messed up, but this is still salvageable. In fact, the likelihood of your vehicle being destroyed by gasoline is very slim if you follow these steps and don’t sway from this process at all.

  1. If you haven’t already, don’t turn on your pickup

This may seem logical, but some people only realize they’ve done something wrong after the vehicle is on and sputtering. If this is the case, turn it off immediately and call a tow truck as soon as you can. If you are in the Treasure Valley and you need a tow, call our sister company Nesmith Brothers Towing at (208) 884-1000 and they will be out to help you asap. If the pickup isn’t on, turning it on will lead to all the problems stated above so thinking you’re not far from home and can drive is definitely not something you want to risk.

  1. Have a tow truck bring your vehicle to your mechanic

Once you’ve called the tow truck, make sure that your local, reliable mechanic is available because the sooner the fuel is drained the better. Although some forums will tell you that you can drain your fuel on your own relatively easily, a mechanic will be able to ensure every drop of gasoline is gone and this is highly important. In fact, according to Bell Performance, “As little as 1% gasoline contamination will lower the diesel flash point by 18 degrees C”.

  1. Have your mechanic drain the fuel entirely

The next step is to have your mechanic drain the fuel of your pickup and remove every drop. If your mechanic specifically works on diesel engines, this should be a relatively simple and cheap process and will also ensure that your vehicle is not damaged by the gasoline whatsoever.

If you started your vehicle, you will want to let your mechanic know so they can inspect your engine, your diesel injectors, and your fuel pump and determine any damage from the premature ignition or lubricity of the gas.

  1. Do not try to drive your pickup until this is done

As stated above, driving your vehicle with gasoline in the tank is one of the last things you should do if you are hoping to keep the performance and quality of your vehicle intact. Although many forums say that gasoline won’t necessarily lead to your pickup falling apart, the long-term damage may be irreparable. It is not worth the small convenience you gain from avoiding a tow truck.

  1. Forgetfulness Tip: Put a reminder on the gas cap

When looking online, there weren’t many people that had solutions for forgetful individuals bound to repeat their mistake. However, one solution found in multiple diesel forums was to put a little reminder on the gas cap such as a diesel logo or sticker.

Although it may seem silly, if this small emblem or sticker could save you money, time, and the fear of damage to your vehicle, then isn’t it worth it?

In the end, whether you’re a seasoned diesel pickup driver or someone just beginning to drive diesel vehicles, mistakes happen and having a reliable group of informed people nearby is the best way to make sure you’re covered no matter what.

That’s why if you happen to be in the beautiful state of Idaho, don’t hesitate to reach out to all of us at Gem State Diesel for all of your diesel engine needs. After all, why panic about your vehicle when you can let us do the hard work and let you enjoy the fun stuff?

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