Monday, June 5, 2023


A big “yikes” mistake: Pumping the wrong fuel

You know it. The problem is that you didn’t know it soon enough. It’s getting late. You’re hoping to arrive at your campsite before dark. This should be the last fueling of the day. You’re in a hurry, anxious to get back on the road. There! Fueling’s done. But … wait! No. Nooooooo! You suddenly realize that you’ve accidently pumped from the wrong fuel nozzle. You just put $75 worth of regular gasoline into your diesel truck.

The ubiquitous green handle

A fellow RVer recently posted this unhappy incident on Facebook. He further explained it was the green pump handle that caused his mistake. Oh, that green handle! For those of you who don’t know, BP fuel stations cap all of their fuel pumps with their signature green plastic handles. Not sure what British Petroleum hopes to accomplish by this practice, but I’m sure our Facebook friend isn’t the only one who’s made this mistake. Usually, or should I say normally, only the diesel pump handle is green. It’s a no-brainer for diesel-driving RVers: Drive in, grab the green handle, pump, pay, and go! Not so if you’re getting fuel from BP.

Pumping the wrong fuel happens all the time

My brother-in-law made the same mistake, but in reverse. He filled his rental motorcycle with diesel fuel at a BP station just a month ago. Luckily, he knew not to start the cycle’s engine. With the wrong fuel in the gas tank, techs only had to remove and drain the fuel tank. (Only?) Anyway, had he started up the motorcycle, the diesel fuel would have pumped through the entire engine—an even more costly mistake.

Green handle remedy?

Many folks suggested “fixes” to the guy posting his problem on Facebook. “Just siphon it out and replace with diesel fuel. Save yourself an engine replacement,” opined one reader.

“Top it off with diesel. You’ll be fine,” suggested another Facebook mechanic.

The poor guy read through all of the online suggestions. Then he decided to tow his truck to a Ford dealership. He paid $1,200 to fix the problem plus an additional charge for an oil change. Ouch!

Always a jokester

After posting his solution online, lots of comedians commented:

“BP. Ruining one vacation at a time.”

“So, basically you spent 245 bucks per gallon for that fuel?” said one.

“The green handles are BP—a British company. Maybe it’s revenge for the Revolutionary War?”

How about you?

Have you ever mistakenly pumped the wrong fuel into your gas tank? Tell us about it! Or, if you’re a mechanic, is there a safe, viable way to fix this without involving a dealership? Post in the comments or over on my forum, please

In the meantime, be careful—really careful—when fueling.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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1 year ago

Our first RV was a renovated 1990 International School Bus with a V8 diesel engine. We were filling up at a gas station after a long day and hubby mistakenly pumped about a third of a tank of regular gas into it. There was a diesel shop right next door and the mechanic suggested we continue to fill up with diesel fuel and add about 2 quarts of transmission fluid. Problem solved and we carried on with our trip with no problems.

Billy Vitro
1 year ago

Same thing happened to a friend of mine. He filled the primary tank of his diesel F-350 with gas, but stopped himself before he filled the aux tank. Had it towed home, and went out and bought a portable gas tank (similar to a portable black-tank dump). Our local garbage dump includes free hazardous waste drop off, so over the next few weekends, he emptied out 20 gallons or so at a time into the portable tank, then took it up to drop it off at the dump. Saved himself about $1000.

Apparently the costliest part of having it done at the dealer is the hazardous waste disposal expense. They don’t get to use the “free” waste disposal like individuals can.

1 year ago

Yep! it happened to my husband at a BP station – that green handle did him in. We were on our way home from a long trip, and eager to reach our destination. We broke down at the most understanding campground. Someone parked our 5th wheel, others helped us carry our personal belongings from the truck to the RV, and we were recommended an excellent place to get it fixed. Then, the campground office baked us a pizza, delivered it to our RV, all without charge. This is the best example of southern hospitality.
We were ready to hit the road bright an early on Tuesday morning………but then the slide outs wouldn’t close. Hubby checked the fuse, but couldn’t get it to work. Called AAA, and a couple of hours later, it was determined that the fuse that showed good was actually the problem. The driver only had 1 of those with him, but that’s all we needed. Finally, we were on way home!

Bob Steele
1 year ago

Yup. I did this last year. I filled my F250 Super Duty diesel with regular gas . . . and even topped off my spare cans in the bed. And, yes, it was the BP green handle that fooled me as I usually don’t do BP. I only did because Gas Buddy said that BP had diesel at $0.30 cheaper than other stations around. When I got there, this pump had the green handle and the Gas Buddy price. When I realized my mistake I found the diesel pump a few feet further on with a price that was $0.30 higher than the Gas Buddy price.
I had it towed. I didn’t turn on the key, but the tow truck driver had to in order to take it out of park. That apparently didn’t cause any problem as Firestone was able to drain the gas and save the engine for me. Labor, new fuel filters, towing all came to just over $400 . . . plus the $100 I paid BP for the gas! Very expensive lapse of attention!!

1 year ago

????? I don’t get it. I have no idea what color the handles on any gas pump are – never paid attention. There is a button you push that tells you which grade of fuel or diesel you want – why would one decide a color dictates the type of fuel?

1 year ago
Reply to  KellyR

Same here. The diesel nozzle is always separate from the gasoline nozzle plus it usually is oily. I would find it hard to mix them up.

10 months ago
Reply to  BobE

Glad you’ve never been tired or distracted or whatever when trying to fuel up.

Dale Sain
1 year ago

Three of us 20-somethings (long, LONG ago) in Spain w/a rented car, stopped at a lonely gas station. No one in sight, we saw fuel with different prices and grabbed the cheapest. Moments later, the attendant came running out pointing & yelling, “Gasolina”…then, “Gasolio!” After a couple of times we realized what he was saying. Oopsie.
We finished filling with gasoLINA and hoped for the best. Yep it started so off we went on a deserted road…for about a mile or two. Chuga, chuga, cough and died. As we pushed it back, occasionally we could make it sputter. Just before we got back, the diluted fuel felt we had suffered enough and got to the engine for our drive home.

Gene Bjerke
1 year ago

It happened to me at an other than BP station. Green handle on a gas pump. The station had its diesel pumps in a different location. I caught it quickly, but I had already pumped some. Visions of a new Mercedes engine danced in my head. While waiting for a tow to a dealer who agreed to work on it late on Friday afternoon, the local “good old boys” suggested I just dump in some motor oil and not worry about it. A couple of hours later I was back at the proper pump, filling my now-empty tank. I figured I got away cheap at $200.

Paul Schwengel
1 year ago

only 1x, green handle and was very tired….pumped in just 1 gal regular to almost MT 32 gal diesel tank….then filled with diesel… noticeable problem, enough dilution….a small mistake that makes me check 2x even 5 years later, every fill up

Rik K
1 year ago

Our local Royal Farms gas stations have the green handles for gasoline too. You make the mistake once then learn the hard way ($$$) to not do it again. It made me so nervous about doing it again that I double and triple-check before fueling.

Neal Davis
1 year ago

The first (gasoline in a diesel truck) happened to a friend with whom we were traveling. Here too the pump handle was green and attached to a regular gasoline pump (Sinclair station) Thankfully, the station did service for tractor-trailer rigs. They towed the truck around back and a couple of hours and $600 later had fixed the problem. Thankfully (?) our rig is so large (43′ DP towing a Jeep and a total length of 63′) that we only use truck stops, which only provide diesel.

1 year ago

Oh Gail….

I read this to find out what recommended actions might be.

I know what I would do but I am always interested in what an expert might say.

Surely you could have asked a couple?

I am not an expert, so I won’t splain what I would do other than ‘step one – don’t turn the key’.

BTW, if he didn’t turn they key $1200 is criminal!

Glen Cowgill
1 year ago

Many years ago, DW was driving my Ford van that takes regular gas, filled it with diesel, started it and drove about a block before it stopped. Ended up getting it towed to my shop. After rebuilding the carburetor, draining the tank, flushing fuel lines and removing and cleaning intake I got it to start again.
I have seen several of the new Ram trucks that have had DEF put in the fuel nozzle. the repair after running DEF was about $15,000 ouch!

Larry d
1 year ago

You lured me in with the hyperlink… what to do then don’t actually have the answer rather you ask for a mechanic to chime in. Come on

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Larry d

Yes, i agree. RV Travel just did what Chuck complained about in an earlier article in this same issue.

I suggest a little redemption in a following issue, with some solid guidance.

In the meantime do this; after positioning at the pump location, look at location of the product selection button (diesel, and low, med, high grades gas) physically follow (with your eyes) the selected nozzle hose in your hand, back to the pump connection, and reference it to the correct button selected. ONLY AFTER THIS STEP do you PULL THE TRIGGER.

If you get into this simple routine, it will help to greatly reduce the possible error. This came to me in a dream, after sleeping at a Holiday Inn express.

1 year ago

😅 🤣 😂

1 year ago

Came close on my GMC Terrain which IS diesel. Went to BP (never again) and put the nozzle in. Luckily I noticed before I started pumping. Since I don’t usually go to BP I just stared at the pump wondering why they were all the same color.

Mark O.
1 year ago

Spend a couple of seconds and READ the pump! Nobody’s in that much of a hurry.

1 year ago

Ran out of fuel on Interstate. Called rescue service. RV was gas. Guy showed up, was told diesel by dispatch service. Dumped 6 gallons of diesel into fuel tank. Went to start engine. Guy noticed it was gas. Stop became a very important word. After a very long discussion between fuel guy and dispatcher, RV was towed to truck service. Fuel system was removed, tanks and lines cleaned out and re-installed several days later.
I had to pay for the diesel.

Bob p
1 year ago

Put your cell phone down and pay attention to what you’re doing!

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

Give that man a ceeegar. Bingo. Lets call it “Distracted Fueling”.

1 year ago

Here in British Columbia, most diesel pump handles are yellow.

Lawrence Neely
1 year ago
Reply to  Warmonk

in the US Yellow is E15 gas so be carefull

Last edited 1 year ago by Lawrence Neely
1 year ago
Reply to  Warmonk

Did it in 2015 on our way to AK. cost us 700.00 to drop tank flush fuel system and change oil

Greg R
1 year ago

I’ve done it twice. Put regular gas into my diesel truck. First was at the dreaded BP station. I noticed the error each time when I finished filling. Both involved a tow, disposal fee and new fuel.

1 year ago
Reply to  Greg R

But did it cost you $1200?

BILLY Bob Thronton
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg R

Three times a charm!

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