Is putting the wrong fuel in a car covered by insurance?

Misfueling can be expensive and even lead to insurance claims. .If you put the wrong fuel in your car, your insurance policy might not cover any related damage.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 21, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • A vehicle is designed to run on a particular fuel type, and “misfuelling” means you have filled your tank with the wrong fuel type
  • Misfuelling can lead to engine damage, and you may have to have your gas tank drained
  • Most auto insurance policies do not cover expenses that occur because you miss-fueled your car

Misfuelling is often an absentminded mistake. For example, you tap the wrong fuel type or forget which car you’re driving. As a result, you don’t realize you put the wrong gas in the tank until it’s too late. While this is a common mistake, it has significant repercussions ranging from a damaged engine to repair bills that could run up to thousands of dollars.

You may wonder if putting the wrong fuel in the car is covered by insurance. Unfortunately, it’s usually not.

Since this is an expensive mistake, let’s understand what misfuelling is, how you avoid it, and what to do if you put the wrong fuel in your car. Then, read on to learn more.

If you want to ensure your car is covered in case you accidentally give it the wrong fuel, compare at least three to four policies today! Enter your ZIP code above to find the best auto insurance rates for you!

Will insurance cover the cost of putting the wrong fuel in my car?

Misfuelling can cause problems ranging from rattling sounds in the car to engine damage. It can dent your wallet as well. 

Unfortunately, your car insurance may not cover losses due to misfuelling. Most insurance companies do not include coverage for this type of engine damage or the costs of draining your fuel tank due to a mistake. However, it might be included if you have a high-coverage policy or mechanical breakdown insurance. Check with your insurance agent or read your policy in detail.

Let’s look at average annual rates by coverage type through some of the more common companies.

CompaniesAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates for High CoverageAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates for Low CoverageAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates for Medium Coverage
Allstate$5,139.02$4,628.03$4,896.81
American Family$3,416.40$3,368.49$3,544.37
Farmers$4,494.13$3,922.47$4,166.22
GEICO$3,429.14$3,001.91$3,213.97
Liberty Mutual$6,356.04$5,805.75$6,058.57
Nationwide$3,505.37$3,394.83$3,449.80
Progressive$4,350.96$3,737.13$4,018.46
State Farm$3,454.80$3,055.40$3,269.80
Travelers$4,619.07$4,223.63$4,462.02
USAA$2,667.92$2,404.11$2,539.87
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As you can see, full coverage is more expensive, but it offers you the most coverage and the least risk.

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What is misfuelling?

Your automobile requires a particular type of fuel. The fuel will be specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and, in many cases, inside the door of your gas tank. If you fuel your car with any other fuel than what’s specifically approved, it could cause serious problems for your vehicle. 

Here are the types of fuel available you’ll find at many gas stations:

  • Unleaded
  • Super Unleaded
  • Premium Unleaded
  • E85 (for flex-fuel vehicles)
  • Diesel

All these fuels are priced differently. The price point might influence you to opt for cheaper fuel. But choosing fuel based on price point alone can be an expensive mistake. 

What happens if you put the wrong fuel in your car?

The results of this mishap will depend on your situation. For example, misfuelling your gasoline car with diesel can be expensive and time-consuming to fix. A gas engine cannot combust diesel, so your car probably won’t start. Engine damage is not likely, but you will have to get your tank drained, which can cost between $500 and $2,000, and possibly pay for towing fees.

If you put premium fuel in a car that doesn’t require it, that’s less of a concern. However, if you put lower octane fuel in a car that requires premium fuel, it may be more noticeable. You will hear a rattling noise from your engine. Luckily, the engine computers will adjust, but you will notice a drop in fuel economy and performance. 

Putting gas in your diesel car is the costliest misfuelling mistake. Doing so will lead to engine damage if you do not recognize the mistake in time.

How To Avoid Choosing the Wrong Fuel 

Choosing the wrong fuel is an easy mistake to make, especially on a car that’s new to you or a rental vehicle. To avoid this problem:

  • Know your car. Your owner’s manual will have the fuel type on which your car will run. Only use the fuel specified in the manual. 
  • Invest in a misfuelling prevention deviceYou can invest in a diesel tank insert that refuses standard gas nozzles. 
  • Be attentive while refueling your car. Eliminate distractions while refueling your car. Carefully review each fuel station and nozzle to make sure you choose the correct fuel. 

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What do you do if you put the wrong fuel in your car? 

Not all misfuelling errors are the same. For example, if you put the wrong octane fuel in a regular gas engine, you don’t need to take drastic steps. Just be sure you refill correctly next time! On the other hand, if you fuel your diesel car with gas, your car likely will not start, and you’ll need to get your tank flushed. 

Most importantly, you’ll need to take immediate action if you put gasoline in a diesel-powered engine. Don’t turn on the ignition if you realize the fuelling error immediately after fueling. Starting your car will damage the engine. Instead, talk to a mechanic about draining the tank.

What To Know About Misfueling and Insurance

Misfuelling is an easy mistake to make, but it can prove costly. In most cases, your insurance won’t cover the repair expenses for misfuelling, but you should check your policy to be sure. Ultimately, it’s best to make sure you’re focused on the task at hand when you refuel your car.

Finding an auto insurance company that offers great rates and the coverage you need can be tricky. Let us help get multiple quotes for you to compare. Enter your zip now to get quotes on insurance that will cover misfuelling.

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