Will Auto Insurance Pay for Repairs if You Put the Wrong Gas in Your Car?

Unfortunately, most auto insurance policies will not pay for repairs if you put the wrong gas in your car. You might consider mechanical breakdown insurance to cover misfuelling costs, or you can shop around for car insurance that will pay for repairs if you put the wrong gas in your tank. Enter your ZIP code below to start comparing auto insurance quotes now for free.

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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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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: May 28, 2021

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You’ve made a big mistake: you put the wrong type of gas in your car.

Maybe you used diesel. Maybe the gas was contaminated due to a problem at the gas station. Whatever the case may be, your car needs to be repaired.

When you put the wrong gas in your tank, will car insurance cover the cost of repairs? Or will you need to pay for everything out of pocket? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about what happens when putting the wrong gas in your tank.

Most Insurance Companies Will Not Cover Misfuelling

Insurance companies have a term for putting the wrong gas in your car. They call it ‘misfuelling’. Most insurance companies will not cover damages linked to misfuelling.

In fact, if you check your car insurance, you may find a specific exclusion that mentions misfuelling. The insurance company may promise to cover all damages except damages linked to misfuelling, for example.

If you try to make a claim for misfuelling-related damages, then your car insurance will most likely reject the claim.

Check your auto insurance policy to verify whether or not misfuelling exclusion language is in your policy.

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Some Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Covers Misfuelling

Generally, an ordinary car insurance policy will not cover damages linked to misfuelling. However, if you have mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI), which is typically purchased on newer vehicles, then you may be protected.

Mechanical breakdown insurance is typically purchased on a new vehicle (1 to 2 years old). It functions like an extended warranty, protecting your vehicle against any unexpected repair expenses in the first few years of ownership. Typically, once your car is more than 2 to 3 years old, it will no longer qualify for mechanical breakdown insurance coverage.

What Happens When You Put the Wrong Fuel in a Vehicle?

Putting the wrong type of fuel in a vehicle can lead to significant damage. Unfortunately, as we established above, it’s unlikely that car insurance will cover these damages.

Generally, there are five types of fuel available at pumps in North America, including:

  • Unleaded
  • Super unleaded
  • Premium unleaded
  • E85 (ethanol)
  • Diesel

Sometimes, drivers add the wrong type of fuel to their vehicle on purpose. The driver may add premium fuel to the tank, for example, when the owner’s manual calls for standard unleaded fuel. The driver believes he is increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, but in reality, it can cause severe problems with the car.

The most common type of misfuelling involves putting ordinary unleaded gasoline in a diesel vehicle. If you just purchased a diesel Volkswagen after driving an ordinary vehicle your whole life, then you might make an honest mistake at the gas pump, filling up your car with unleaded gasoline before realizing it’s too late.

Gas stations take steps to prevent misfuelling. Pumps are labeled clearly. Diesel nozzles also have a different shape that prevents them from being inserted into an ordinary fuel tank.

If the nozzle doesn’t easily fit into your vehicle, then it’s likely you’re using the wrong type of gasoline. The nozzle should always fit easily into your vehicle’s gas tank.

How Does Misfuelling Damage the Vehicle?

The damage caused by misfuelling varies widely depending on the vehicle and the octane of the gasoline you used.

If you drive a car that uses unleaded gasoline and you put premium unleaded gasoline in it, then there should not be any damage. You’re just going to spend more at the pump with minimal benefits.

Putting regular gas into a car that requires premium gasoline, on the other hand, can cause significant damages. There’s a reason why certain vehicles – like high-end performance vehicles – require premium gasoline.

Certain modern vehicles actually have systems in place to limit the damage caused by misfuelling. The car’s computer might make an adjustment, for example. Even so, you may hear a rattling noise in the engine.

Generally, you’ll need to take your vehicle to a mechanic after misfuelling it. The mechanic will drain the gasoline from the vehicle and replace it with the correct kind. The sooner you notice the mistake, the easier it will be to mitigate the damages.

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How to Add Misfuelling Coverage to My Car Insurance Policy

Certain car insurance companies will cover damages linked to misfuelling – although it’s rare. Consider shopping around for car insurance quotes today to find a company that covers misfuelling costs.

Your best bet, however, is to add mechanical breakdown insurance to your auto insurance policy. This insurance covers the cost of repairing a new vehicle. It’s typically only available on vehicles that are 2 to 3 years old. MBI is not available on older vehicles that are more prone to mechanical breakdowns.

Final Word

Ultimately, misfuelling is a common exclusion on auto insurance policies. Most insurance policies specifically exclude any damages caused by putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle. Even if you have full coverage or comprehensive coverage, misfuelling is not likely to be covered.

In some cases, mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) may cover misfuelling expenses. In most cases, however, your car insurance company will deny any claims related to putting the wrong fuel in your vehicle.

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