Generally speaking, putting gas in your car is a mindless activity. You pull up to the pump, instinctively grab the dispenser and fill up your tank. That’s it: the task is over. 

Unfortunately, because this is such a mindless activity, mistakes are sometimes made. Namely, putting the wrong gas in the car. 

Have you run into this problem? Are you frantically searching “what happens if you put wrong gas in car” on Google? Then you’ve come to the right place. 

Below, we’re going to tell you exactly what to do in the event that you’ve filled your vehicle with improper gas. Let’s get into it! 

Reviewing the Different Types of Fuel

For personal vehicles, there are 4 major types of fuel. These types of fuel include diesel, regular octane gas, mid-level octane gas, and premium octane gas. We’ll discuss the specifics of each below. 


Diesel is entirely separate from the other 3 types of fuel, those being gasoline. Not only is diesel thicker than gasoline but more efficient and more powerful as well. As such, you can get more out of a gallon of diesel than you can out of a gallon of gas. 

Generally speaking, it’s just large trucks and SUVs that use diesel fuel. This is because they command higher levels of power in order to serve their purposes. 

Regular Octane Gas

Next, we’re going to discuss the most commonly used type of car fuel, that being regular octane gas. This is put in everything from cars to vans to SUVs to trucks and more. Note, though, that it’s not typically used in high-performance luxury vehicles like Lamborghinis, for instance. 

Regular gasoline has an octane rating of 87, in most cases. What this means is that, compared to mid-level and premium gas, it’s more susceptible to detonating at the wrong time. This makes it more harmful for engines with high levels of compression, but perfectly acceptable for the majority of engines on the road today. 

Mid-level Octane Gas

Mid-level octane gas has an octane rating of around 89. As such, it’s less prone to detonating at the wrong time than is regular octane gas. On the other hand, it’s more prone to detonating at the wrong time than is premium gas. 

Of the three types of gasoline, this one sees the least use. This is because there are very few vehicles that require it. 

Premium Octane Gas

Premium octane gas is the least likely to detonate at the wrong time. As such, it’s the best type of gas to use for high-compression engines, the types of which are found in luxury cars like Lamborghinis, Jaguars, and Audis. 

It’s important to note, though, that some common vehicles use premium gas as well. In general, it’s the ones that contain turbo engines. So, if you have, say, a Chevrolet Equinox with a turbo engine, it probably requires premium gas. 

Putting Diesel in a Gasoline Vehicle 

Putting diesel in a gas engine is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, at least as far as filling up your vehicle goes. See, diesel fuel is extremely thick. As such, if it’s put into a gasoline engine, it will clog up components within the engine, placing great stress on them and eventually causing them to cease working. 

In short, diesel fuel will destroy a gas engine, and probably fairly quickly as well. So, if you ever accidentally put diesel into your gas engine, make sure not to drive with it. Instead, have your vehicle towed to a local mechanic and have the diesel pumped out. 

Then, the mechanic can “clean” the engine with the right octane of gas, thereby returning your vehicle to its intended state. 

Putting the Wrong Octane Gas in Your Car

Now that we’ve discussed the mishap of putting diesel in a non-diesel vehicle and the mishap of putting octane gas in a diesel vehicle, we can explain what happens when you put the wrong octane gas in an octane vehicle. 

Using a Higher Octane Gas Than Is Needed

Generally speaking, using a higher octane of gas than is needed isn’t going to cause any problems. It will just result in you spending more money than you really have to. 

So, if your vehicle only requires regular gas, don’t think that it’s going to get some sort of benefit out of being filled with mid-level or premium. Your engine isn’t designed to get benefit from these gases, and will perform at its max capacity with regular gas. 

Using a Lower Octane Gas Than Is Needed

Where you can go wrong is in using a lower octane of gas than is really needed. In other words, if you put regular gas in a mid-level or premium-gas vehicle, your engine is likely going to suffer. Odds are, you’ll start hearing an engine knocking sound which indicates severe wear and tear in your engine. 

Why does lower-grade gas cause problems in higher-grade engines? Because it’s not reliable enough to not detonate at the wrong time. This results in a series of poorly-timed detonation incidents, all of which harm the engine and cause it to wear out before its time. 

So, while using regular gas once in a while might not do severe damage to a high-performance engine, using regular gas on a regular basis will eventually cause such an engine to shut down entirely. 

Did you accidentally do this? If so, you can probably get away with it this one time. Just don’t make a habit of it. 

But if you want to be 100% safe, you should have your vehicle towed to a mechanic. They’ll pump out all of the existing gas and refill it with appropriate gas. 

“Put Wrong Gas in Car” Is Usually a Problem That Can Be Rectified

As you can see, the problem of “put wrong gas in car” is an issue that can typically be rectified. So, don’t beat yourself up endlessly thinking “I accidentally put the wrong gas in my car”. Just follow the instructions above and you should be able to salvage your vehicle. 

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