Florida issues storm evacuations while drivers are warned not to start cars after fuel mix-up

A friend of mine had an experience like this with a U-Haul when he was moving. He parked it in front of his old place, we helped him load everything into it–and then it wouldn’t start. After trying unsuccessfully to get the rental place help us out, we borrowed a pickup truck and used that and our cars instead. It was an enormous pain in the ass.

After some unpleasant conversations with the rental place, they admitted that the last person to drive the U-Haul had filled it up with regular gasoline instead of diesel, and that he was “lucky” to have gotten it to his old place.

On the bright side, they apparently refunded his credit card several times by mistake.

I hope the storm passes them by.


Remember the stupid culture wars in Florida where they wanted to prevent EVs from evacuation routes? The EVs that can be charged at home without needing to go to a gas station, the EVs that can supply backup power to a house when the grid is out? Yeah, those EVs. Their owners should be forced to stay at home during a hurricane while everyone else evacuates.


Here in the EU, all public “rapid” chargers have a CHaDemo cable and a CCS Combo Type 2 cable attached to them. Every car sold in the EU has one or the other of these sockets on it.

If you want to use “fast” chargers you carry the right cable with you, either a Type 2 Mennekes or a ChaDeMo. I also carry a “granny lead” (a cable with a standard UK plug on one end, so I can charge anywhere I can park next to a 13A socket.


Emphasis altered to highlight the problem in this case. Jalopnik’s advice is geared to the “usual” scenario where a driver accidentally uses the wrong nozzle. Not really helpful where you’re using the right pump but the supplier has messed up.


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They just need to find a local barkeep who remembers the face of everyone who walked in, exact time they did, who they were talking to, and what they were talking about, but is a little reluctant to give the details.


In the time you drive to the station, fill up and drive home, you’re still on the old gas in the tank. Your tank is not bone dry when you get gas. There’s a few litres in the bottom and that’s what you’re running on because fuel pumps draw from the bottom.

You could travel quite a ways before you start draw in that diesel, so if you stop before any of it gets into the fuel pump, it’s much better. All you need to do is drain the tank, rather than dismantling and flushing the entire fuel system. This is the point officials are making.

All that said, the actual danger to the engine here is a lot more nuanced. It depends how much diesel went in. Diesel is actually a light oil, unlike gasoline. A little diesel in there would be equivalent to a leaky head gasket. The car is going to smoke a lot and run poorly, but it’ll run and you aren’t gonna brick it immediately doing that. At the other extreme, if the engine suddenly got 100% diesel, it’s going to stall anyway. Diesel doesn’t ignite from a spark the way gasoline does. It requires extreme compression which is how diesel engines work. The power stroke will fail on each cylinder in turn, and that’ll be it. It’ll stall before a lot of damage is done. Somewhere in between there is probably a mix of gas and diesel that would do a lot of damage if you let it run.

Their blanket advice of “don’t start the engine” is easy to say and easy to follow and guarantees no damage, so that’s why they say that. Public safety announcements are no time for nuance.


So that’s all right then.
Nothing to see here.

I once put diesel into a petrol van. A few splutters, got back to a garage, flushed through, no probs.

Petrol in a diesel, though - I understand that is the end of that particular engine.


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