Diesel Fuel Nozzles Don’t Fit in Standard Fuel Cars

June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 9 comments

Diesel cars are not popular in North America. But, diesel engines are fairly popular in pickup trucks and are becoming more popular in North American cars.

Although they have a limited history in America, foreign car manufacturers sell many diesel models in Europe.

Diesel engines are generally very efficient and that behind their new found demand. As diesel becomes more popular, you will likely see more diesel pumps.

This is good if you have a diesel car, potentially bad if you don’t. Diesel pumps present a slight risk to your standard gasoline vehicle — you do not want to put diesel fuel in a car that uses standard unleaded fuel.

Standard engines use spark plugs to burn the fuel, diesel engines use pressure and heat to cause a reaction in diesel fuel. That means standard engines will not burn diesel fuel. If you inadvertently put diesel in an unleaded car, the engine will stop very quickly. It’s not usually a total loss, the fuel system will have to be cleaned, filters will need to be changed and the whole process can cost as much as $600.

But, there is an easy way to avoid this costly mistake. First, diesel fuel dispensers are usually clearly marked with text and with a special color handle (the color varies by station).

Second, the nozzle on the end of a diesel fuel pump is slightly larger than a standard fuel nozzle. That means it won’t fit in your car’s gas hole, at least not that way you’re used to a pump nozzle fitting. If you notice that the nozzle isn’t going as far in as it usually does, check the pump, you might be holding a diesel trigger.

This same principle was used in the 80s when we transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Leaded fuel nozzles wouldn’t not fit in unleaded gas holes.

Checkout some other gas related Broken Secrets:

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Sources: Answer Bag, WTSP, Dixon Nozzles (PDF)

Photo: teachernz (cc)

Entry filed under: Automotive, Be Efficient, Be Frugal, Be Green. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. belinda  |  August 18, 2012 at 4:21 am

    i live in nsw australia, and pulled in t9 get petrol at 7 11, the car broke down 20 metres away, thought it was bad fuel but two days later went back to the station and found that i had put diesel in,,,,yes the nozzle did fit, is this legal????

  • 2. michael  |  June 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I wanna know if it is legal that the nozzle fit as well!

  • […] For a start, car manufacturers usually put a label inside the filler flap of the type of fuel to use. And diesel pump nozzles can’t get inserted into petrol filler necks because of their larger size. […]

  • 4. KingAdrock  |  June 21, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Diesel vehicles also have a mechanism to keep regular unleaded nozzles from fitting. This is because while diesel in a gas car will cause it to conk out, regular gas in a diesel can make the engine die catastrophically. It’s roughly as bad as driving a car with no oil.

  • 5. germany motorcycle oil  |  September 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    germany motorcycle oil

    blog topic

  • 6. Dwayne Adams  |  January 9, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Don’t believe that all diesel nozzles are a different size from gas nozzles. Usually, but not always.

  • 7. SEBASTIAN P K  |  February 22, 2021 at 11:10 am

    My petrol car was filled with diesel due to the negligence of the fuel station attendant. Is it legal to have a smaller size nozzle for the diesel dispenser?

  • […] proofed, in that it's impossible to put diesel fuel in a vehicle that takes unleaded gas. The diesel pump nozzle is too large to insert into the gas tank opening. It is possible to put unleaded gas into a diesel vehicle, since that doesn't damage the […]

  • […] proofed, in that it’s impossible to put diesel fuel in a vehicle that takes unleaded gas. The diesel pump nozzle is too large to insert into the gas tank opening. It is possible to put unleaded gas into a diesel vehicle, since that doesn’t damage the […]


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