Is using the wrong fuel in your car covered by insurance?

Most auto insurance plans will not cover misfuelling a vehicle, but some policies might. Mechanical breakdown coverage could help if you add the wrong fuel to your vehicle.

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UPDATED: May 29, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 29, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know

  • Most auto insurance policies will not cover your vehicle if you use the wrong fuel
  • You can cause significant damage by using the wrong fuel in your car
  • Mechanical breakdown coverage is the most likely the type of coverage to help if you use the wrong fuel in your vehicle

Using the wrong fuel in a vehicle is more common than most people think. Nearly 150,000 drivers add the wrong fuel to their cars and trucks every year. But what happens if your vehicle sustains damage because you’ve added the wrong fuel? Does car insurance cover misfuelling?

While it depends on your car insurance coverage, most insurance policies do not cover misfuelling a vehicle. So, you will have to pay for your car to be towed, your gas tank drained, and all the parts of your car inspected with your own money. 

Some companies offer mechanical breakdown coverage or other riders that may help cover any costs associated with misfuelling your car.

Is using the wrong fuel in your car covered by insurance?

In most instances, using the wrong fuel in your vehicle is not covered by insurance companies. Because misfuelling is an entirely preventable common occurrence, insurance companies often exclude coverage for it in standard policies.

Some insurance companies offer insurance riders that policyholders can add for a more robust auto insurance coverage. In certain instances, companies may offer a misfuelling rider for car insurance policies.

The only way to know whether your insurance policy covers misfuelling is to check your insurance policy. If you do not see that using the wrong fuel in your car is covered or is excluded in your policy, you can call your company and speak to a representative.

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Will mechanical breakdown insurance cover misfuelling?

Mechanical breakdown coverage, or car repair insurance, will often cover the cost of repairs if your vehicle breaks down, requires replacement parts, or has other mechanical issues.

Breakdown car insurance is an option for added coverage with certain companies like GEICO and Allstate. If your insurance company offers mechanical breakdown insurance, you may want to look into how to upgrade your car insurance policy.

Some mechanical breakdown insurance coverages still include stipulations for things like misfuelling, so read the fine print to see what is not covered before you purchase it.

What happens if I add the wrong fuel to my vehicle?

In some instances, adding the wrong fuel to your car isn’t a big deal. For example, if you should be using regular gas but accidentally put premium in your tank, you probably won’t see much change, and your vehicle will not sustain lasting damage.

But if you put diesel in a gas tank or gas in a diesel tank, this mistake could void an existing engine warranty and cause damage to your vehicle’s fuel lines.

While it’s challenging to add diesel to a gas tank because of the size of the nozzle, it can still happen. But the reverse, adding gas to a diesel tank, is much more common. In either instance, you should not attempt to operate your vehicle.

What should I do if I add the wrong fuel to my tank?

As soon as you realize you’ve added gas to your diesel tank, you should make sure your engine is off and have your vehicle towed to a mechanic who can drain all the fuel out and ensure your truck or car is still running okay.

If your vehicle is running well and there are no mechanical issues, you will only have to pay for the tow and fuel line drainage, typically costing anywhere from $500 to $1,000. But if your engine has sustained damage because of misfuelling, you could pay a lot more to repair your vehicle. Using car insurance for engine failure is not usually possible.

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Is using the wrong fuel in your car covered by insurance? The Bottom Line

If you’ve added the wrong fuel to your tank, you don’t need to panic. In some cases, adding the wrong fuel — such as using premium in place of regular — won’t make much difference. But adding gas to a diesel tank could lead to severe repercussions.

Don’t operate your vehicle if you know you’ve added the wrong fuel. Instead, have it towed to a mechanic who can drain the fuel lines and assess any damages.

If you have mechanical breakdown coverage included in your auto insurance policy, you may have coverage for any damage caused to the engine or other parts of your vehicle. Check with your insurance company if you have any questions.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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