Is using the wrong fuel covered by insurance?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2018

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Using the wrong fuel would create mechanical damage unrelated to an accident
  • Different types of fuel will create different types of damage
  • Insurance policies will typically only cover certain types of accidents

If you experience problems with your car as a result of using the wrong kind of fuel, it might result in costly repairs. Since you have auto insurance, the first thought could be to file a claim with the insurance company.

However, you have to look at whether insurance will take care of problems that arise from using the wrong fuel for your car.

If your vehicle has experienced something like this recently and you need better auto insurance, compare at least three to four policies today to find the best rates for you! Enter your ZIP code above to begin!

Different Types of Fuel

There are all kinds of fuel available in today’s market. When you visit a gas station, you will have access to all sorts of different nozzles and pumps.

The types of fuel include:

  • E-85 (ethanol)
  • E-87
  • E91
  • E-93 (identified as premium)
  • Diesel

Many gas stations do an excellent job of identifying the different types of fuel. In some instances, the nozzles will be completely different, as well.

If you ever grab the diesel nozzle by accident and try to place it into a gas tank that is designed to accept unlimited gas, it will often be unable to fit. The nozzle not fitting should alert you to the fact that you have grabbed the wrong nozzle.

Some people make a decision to use a different type of fuel because of false assumptions. For example, many people will put premium fuel in the tank of a car that is designed to accept E-87. They believe that by increasing the quality of the fuel, it will lead to a higher level of performance and even better fuel mileage.

This belief is incorrect, however. Newer model cars have advanced computer systems that will adjust for the higher octane, so the car will likely not experience any damage. However, it costs you more to put the higher octane fuel in.

The best thing for you to do is identify the type of fuel that is recommended for the year, make, and model of your car. From there, make a conscious effort to put the correct fuel in the tank every time.

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Problems You Could Encounter with Wrong Fuel Types

When you drive a car, it is your responsibility to look at what kind of fuel it takes. Your car’s type of fuel is identified within the owner’s manual for the vehicle.

If for any reason, you don’t have the owner’s manual, you should look up the make and model online in order to identify the fuel type. The fuel type might also be listed around the gas cap to ensure that you put the correct fuel in the tank.

All sorts of different problems could arise because of using the wrong type of fuel, including putting diesel into a gasoline tank, gasoline into a diesel tank, as well as using e-85 (ethanol) fuel in either scenario.

Some of the problems you can experience include:

  • Engine misfiring
  • Engine damage
  • Transmission damage
  • Fuel combustion problems

In addition to problems with the engine and the various parts under the hood, you might experience poor performance and low fuel mileage.

If you require repairs because of using the wrong fuel, it’s going to be identified as mechanical damage, which is not something that auto insurance covers.

What Auto Insurance Covers


A basic car insurance policy is going to provide you coverage in the event of a crash. Depending upon the state you live in, you will be required to maintain certain levels of bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Some states may also require you to have personal injury protection or medical payments coverage.

On top of the basic policy, you might choose to add collision and comprehensive coverage, which would cover you in the event you collide with something other than a vehicle as well as non-driving related incidents.

Auto insurance is not going to protect against mechanical breakdowns that are unrelated to a crash. Through your manufacturer, you might be able to purchase mechanical breakdown insurance coverage.

However, using the wrong fuel might avoid the policy, meaning you might not be covered even with this type of insurance.

You have to do whatever it takes to protect your vehicle. It’s one of the primary reasons that states require you to have auto insurance.

Mechanical breakdowns are not covered by auto insurance, so you need to make sure that you are maintaining your vehicle properly. Take the time to look at what type of fuel your car takes to ensure that you fill the tank correctly each time you visit the gas station.

If you don’t know if your car would be covered in this situation and you want to rectify, start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code below!

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