Insurance companies refuse cover for using the wrong fuel

insurers don't always cover misfuelling

In the past, if you made the mistake of putting the wrong fuel into your car, your insurance company would usually cover it. In recent years, however, many are declining to pick up the bill.

According to new research by Defaqto, payouts for putting the wrong fuel into a car have been declining since 2016. Using the wrong fuel can potentially destroy your engine, and cost thousands to put right. This has lead insurers to back away from covering it under ‘accidental damage’ in their policies.

In 2016, 49 percent of insurance products on the market excluded misfuelling damage, although 51 percent would have covered the claims. In 2020, nearly two thirds (59 percent) exclude it.

insurers don't always cover misfuelling

As insurance providers ditch misfuelling, breakdown providers are more likely to cover costs of recovery. In 2016, 49 percent excluded cover for this, compared with just 36 percent who exclude it today. 

Running an engine with the wrong feel can be catastrophic. However, just because you’ve filled up, that doesn’t mean the damage is already done. If you realise before you fire the car up, the fuel can be drained and the cost mitigated.

insurers don't always cover misfuelling

“It is easy to put the wrong fuel in your car by mistake, particularly if you are driving one that you’re not used to,” said Michael Powell, consumer motor expert at Defaqto.

“If you do have breakdown cover, call your provider and ask if they can help. Otherwise, you may need to call a repairer and pay for the costs involved. Either way, it is essential that you do not start your car’s engine as the potential damage could be very expensive to repair.”

Misfuelled your car? Here’s what to do:

  • Push, don’t start. Save your engine by not firing up
  • Call your breakdown provider. They may be able to recover you
  • Check if your recovery also covers draining the fuel
  • Check if the repairer will be able to get you the right fuel

What’s worse? Diesel in a petrol, or vice versa?

insurers don't always cover misfuelling

Petrol in a diesel car is generally worse news, and unfortunately is more common. Diesel acts as a lubricant in a diesel engine system. Petrol, however, causes more friction. It can be especially damaging to high-pressure common-rail diesel systems.

Diesel in a petrol, while inconvenient, shouldn’t be as bad. It’ll clog the spark plugs and the fuel system, but the AA says petrol engines shouldn’t sustain permanent damage: the engine simply won’t start when fed diesel. It’s also harder to put diesel in a petrol car, as the fuel nozzles usually don’t fit.

Petrol and diesel fuel RENAMED at filling stations

Fuel names changed in the UK

Petrol and diesel have got themselves a new identity. You’ll now find petrol labelled E5 and diesel labelled B7 at filling stations.

Fear not, though: it remains obvious exactly which is which, with pumps keeping the ‘unleaded’ and ‘diesel’ labels, too.

What are the new fuel labels?

Fuel names changed in the UK

E5 is petrol and B7 is diesel, but what does it all mean? Well, the E stands for ethanol, while the 5 refers to how much of the ethanol is synthetic. Similarly, in B7 diesel, the B stands for biodiesel and the 7 stands for the percentage of it that’s renewable.

In short, the letter refers the renewable in the fuel, and the number is the percentage of it.

The labels will be in their own distinct shapes, to best-avoid confusion. E5 will be circled, while B7 is in a square. This in addition to the original green and black colours remaining the same.

Why are renewable fuels added?

Fuel names changed in the UK

Aside from eco credentials, the addition of renewable fuels cuts carbon dioxide (CO2) production.

According to government figures, blending renewable fuels reduces CO2 emissions equivalent to taking a million cars off the road.

E10 and ‘no biodiesel’ – explained

Finding the cheapest petrol and diesel

You may also see E10 fuel, with a higher amount of renewable ethanol. It’s fine for any modern car, but we’d suggest you avoid putting it in your classic. It can be bad for fuel tanks, lines and fuel containment/distribution equipment not originally designed for it.

The government says nearly all cars homologated since 2000 should be okay to fill with E10. Not that it matters much to us, given the UK hasn’t yet joined the USA, Europe and Australia in offering it.

If your car has a sticker saying ‘no biodiesel’ B7 is still fine. B7 is normal diesel. What you mustn’t fill up with are high biodiesel blends or 100 percent biodiesel.

The best-selling cars that go furthest on a tank of fuel

Cars that go furthest on a tank of fuel

As fuel prices soar at near-unprecedented rates, many motorists will be extra-curious about the bang they get for their buck when filling up their car.

With this in mind, new figures collated by Euro Car Parts reveal exactly how far the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars go on a full tank of fuel.

This isn’t a list of which cars do the most miles per gallon, or which are the cheapest to fill. Rather, it favours a combination of overall efficiency and healthy tank size.

For example, a car that can do 100 mpg but only has a 30-litre fuel tank, will not go as far as a car that can get 50 mpg but has a 70-litre fuel tank.

The figures here are therefore are worked out by multiplying a car’s tank size in litres by its claimed average miles per litre (mpg for we Brits). Researchers chose the highest possible combined fuel economy for each of the top 10 cars. 

What popular car goes the furthest on a tank of fuel?

# Car Make Distance Travelled (miles) Tank Size (L) Cost to Fill Tank (GBP)
1 Ford Focus 1,112.69 52 £66.75
2 VW Golf 1,046.12 55 £70.40
3 Audi A3 1,046.12 55 £70.40
4 BMW 3 Series 1,014.42 60 £76.80
5 Vauxhall Astra 874.94 48 £61.44
6 Renault Clio 855.92 45 £57.60
7 Ford Fiesta 821.05 42 £53.76
8 VW Polo 803.08 40 £51.20
9 Mini 639.30 44 £56.32
10 Vauxhall Corsa 606.28 45 £57.60

It’s the Ford Focus, which can manage a spectacular 1,112 miles on a 52-litre tank of fuel. The Focus comfortably goes over 1,000 miles, for under £70.

The VW Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 3 Series are also in the 1,000-mile club, going 1,046 (Golf and A3) and 1,014 miles on a tank. That being said, the Golf and A3 cost £70 to fill their 55-litre tanks, while the 3 Series costs £76 to fill with 60 litres of fuel.

Cars that go furthest on a tank of fuel

As for the cheaper cars to fill, the VW Polo claims eighth place overall, going 803 miles for just £51 to fill its 40-litre tank. The best-seller Ford Fiesta puts in a good shift, too, going 821 miles on its £53 42-litre full tank for seventh place overall.

Here’s how to find the cheapest petrol and diesel near you.

Cars that go furthest on a tank of fuel

In fact, it’s the Focus, Polo and Fiesta that lead in terms of pennies spent per miles driven. The Focus costs 7.1p per mile of travel, while the Polo and the Fiesta cost 7.6p and 7.8p respectively.

The Focus and the Fiesta came out on top as best-sellers in the calculations, which collated both new and second-hand sales figures from between January and December 2018. The tank costs were based on an assumed average unleaded price of £1.28, as stated on the RAC’s fuel watch website.

Cars that go furthest on a tank of fuel

“It’s worth considering which cars are the most fuel efficient,” said Chris Barella, Vice President of Sales at Euro Car parts.

“The overall savings you could make could go towards the cost of a whole car after a few years. Not only is driving efficiently good for our pockets – it’s also better for the environment.”

The least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The least economical new cars on sale in 2016When the oil wells run dry, these are the cars you don’t want to be driving. We’ve crunched some numbers to identify the least economical cars on sale in Britain today. Time to get friendly with your local petrol station…

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S: 19.2mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

Good news: the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S can now be equipped with a thoroughly old-school ‘dog-leg’ gearbox. Bad news: you’ll have to live with 19.2mpg on a combined cycle. The manual version is yours for £140,495.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: 19.0mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

Few convertibles offer the potential to hit speeds in excess of 200mph, but the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is an exception to the rule. Its 6.0-litre twin-turbo engine helps to propel this 2,495kg droptop to a top speed of 204mph, sprinting to 62mph in an unfathomable 4.3 seconds.

Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB: 18.9mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The Phantom Extended Wheelbase offers an additional 250mm in the rear passenger compartment compared to the ‘standard’ Phantom. The website says: “With its lounge-like proportions, it’s an indulgent private space that’s perfect for working, entertaining or relaxing between engagements.” Engagements such as filling up with fuel?

Ferrari GTC4Lusso: 18.8mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The FF was Ferrari’s first all-wheel drive car. The GTC4Lusso is the FF updated for 2016, with a revised V12 engine and a new look. It’ll seat four in comfort and propel its occupants to a top speed of 208mph. Deliveries start in March 2017, so if you have £230,000 burning a hole in your pocket, now’s the time to talk to your Ferrari dealer.

Bentley Mulsanne: 18.8mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

Whatever you think of the Bentayga, you have to admire the fact that it’s more efficient than the Flying Spur, Continental and this – the Mulsanne. Power is sourced from a 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, and you can select from a range including a standard Mulsanne, Mulsanne Speed and an extended-wheelbase version.

Ferrari F12tdf: 18.3mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The F12tdf is the Ferrari F12 with the volume cranked up to 11. Lighter this, more powerful that – a root and branch study on how to take something excellent and make it more excellent. Ferrari says that just 799 will be built, each one costing a pound shy of £340,000. You can spend that quid on a chocolate bar during one of your many trips to the petrol station.

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale: 18.2mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

The MC Stradale is the lighter, more focused version of the Maserati GranTurismo, powered by a 460hp 4.7-litre V8 engine. At its launch in 2011, Maserati presented the MC Stradale as the most focused GT of the range, doing away with the rear seats. These were reinstated in 2013, along with the small matter of an additional 10 hp.

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS: 18.0mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

We’ve reached the top – or should that be bottom – three, and there’s something deeply satisfying about the fact that two of the cars wear a Vauxhall badge. Admittedly, the VXR8 GTS is based on a Holden Commodore, which makes it as Australian as Crocodile Dundee, but its engine is sourced from the distinctly American Camaro ZL1. Think of it as an M3 or C63 rival, with £20,000 change in your pocket. Which you can spend on fuel…

Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 SV: 17.7mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

Sandwiched between the pair of Vauxhalls is this: the Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce. It’s powered by a 6.5-litre V12 engine, developing 740 hp and 507 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is an eye-watering 217mph, while the 0-62mph time is polished off in 2.8 seconds…

Vauxhall VXR8 Maloo R8 LSA: 15.3mpgThe least economical new cars on sale in 2016

Bonkers! The least economical car on sale today is the Vauxhall VXR Maloo R8 LSA. The rear-wheel drive, two-seater pick-up is powered by the same 6.2-litre engine you’ll find in the Camaro ZL1, developing around 550 crazy horses. If you own and run one of these in the UK, we’ll buy you a pint. A pint of super unleaded…

Blog: could motorists be forced to pay millions more in tax to compensate for exaggerated efficiency figures?

Over half a million drivers ignore fuel warning light

Over half a million drivers ignore fuel warning light

An increasing number of UK drivers are risking running out of fuel – with over half a million ignoring the warning lights, and a further 267,000 simply not noticing it.

The shocking figures come from LV Road Rescue, amid claims that 827,000 motorists were rescued for running out of fuel last year.

UK fuel prices edge closer to £1 a litre mark
13 ways to save fuel and put money in your wallet

That is an increase of 50,000 compared to 2013 – a rise that can be put down to increasing fuel costs, says LV.

LV Road Rescue managing director, John O’Roarke, said: “Having to buy expensive motorway fuel can be frustrating, but if it saves you the stress of running out of petrol and potentially causing damage to your engine then it’s worth the cost. Roadside assistance is there to help should a motorist find themselves in a sticky situation – but being diligent with topping up soon after the light comes on will help to avoid the headache that a breakdown can bring.”

More than a half of drivers surveyed admitted to driving past petrol stations when they needed fuel in the hope of finding it cheaper elsewhere, while many overestimate how far they can travel once their warning light comes on.

How far can I drive once my fuel warning light comes on?

The distance you can drive once the fuel warning light depends on a number of factors such as how efficient your car is and how you drive.

However, you can get a rough indication from Here’s a handy table featuring the UK’s bestselling cars.

Ranking, in terms of popularity Car model Number of miles left in the tank after the petrol light comes on
1 Ford Fiesta 37 miles
2 Vauxhall Corsa 29 miles
3 Ford Focus 40 miles
4 Volkswagen Golf 42 miles
5 Nissan Qashqai Not currently available
6 Vauxhall Astra 26 miles
7 Volkswagen Polo 39 miles
8 Audi A3 42 miles
9 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 46 miles
10 MINI Cooper 45 miles
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