What would happen if you put diesel in a gasoline engine?

I was getting gas at a different Sheetz (Gas station chain like 7/11, for those unfamiliar with them) than I normally use and I noticed that the diesel hose was located where the “Unleaded 87” hose is located at my usual gasoline refillery. Had I not noticed that, I may very well have filled my car up with diesel.

So what would have happened had I not noticed the disparity??

Thanks for your replies

My aunt did this once. She had to have the tank, gaslines and engine flushed.

You most likely would have noticed that the nozzle didn’t fit in your tank’s opening. At least in my state, diesel nozzles are designed differently than gas ones to prevent such mix-ups.

Someone called into car talk having done exactly that. They apparently left a huge white cloud of smoke behind their car, and had to have the gas drained and engine flushed (same as jayjay’s aunt). Based on that call I suspect you wouldn’t get very far before you noticed something was amiss.

Hmm, I somehow suspect that Pennsylvania wouldn’t be clever enough to do something like that. What with all the trouble it could save…

The handle wasgreen, as opposed to the other black handles for gas, but I don’t know if the nozzle is any different.

Diesel fuel is essentially very low viscosity oil, same as in your crankcase only thinner. Your car would begin to sputter and stall and smoke and finally no longer start but you probably wouldn’t do any permanent damage. You’d have to drain the rest of the fuel out of your tank, but you could probably just run the engine on ether (starting fluid) ontil the diesel was purged from the fuel line and gasoline made it into the cylinders.

The other way around, putting gasoline into a diesel engine, can be much worse.

C’mon, you can’t leave it like that. What would happen?

Gasoline could ignite at the wrong point in the stroke cycle, so you might have expanding burning fuel in the middle of the compression stroke… which makes your engine try to run in two directions at once. On a good day, you break a couple very important parts. On a bad day, shrapnel.

Really? I thought diesel engines don’t inject fuel until the air in the chamber is already compressed.

1010011010 I like your username, Beelzebub.

This is correct. The most likely serious damage running gas in a diesel engine is wrecking the injection pump. It relies on the diesel to act as a lubricant.

I can answer the gasoline-in-a diesel question - someone at work filled the company diesel truck with gasoline a couple of weeks ago. It ran very rough and clattery, produced white smoke, had reduced power and wouldn’t idle. Nevertheless, they drove it the three miles back to work.

We siphoned most of the gasoline out of the tank and tipped in a couple of gallons of diesel. I guesstimate it was still about 30% gasoline in the tank at that point, but it ran more or less normally. Drove it back to the filling station and topped it off with diesel, all bad symptoms dissapeared and it seems to have survived.

Once when I was stranded with an empty gas tank, I emptied a bottle of HEET brand gas line antifreeze into my tank. Although the engine ran badly, it ran well enough to get me to the nearest gas station. No lasting damage.

Thanks for clearing that up, Binary Beelzebub.