AdBlue in Diesel Tank

What Happens When you have AdBlue in Diesel Tank

AdBlue in Diesel Tank is a painful, expensive and time consuming experience. AdBlue is a crucial component in modern diesel engines, designed to reduce harmful emissions and comply with strict environmental regulations. However, what happens when AdBlue ends up in your diesel tank? In this article, we will explore the potential consequences of this mishap, offering insights, real-life examples, and solutions to address this issue. Let\’s dive in!

\"AdBlueThe Role of AdBlue

Understanding AdBlue 

Before delving into the complications, it\’s essential to comprehend what AdBlue is and its role in diesel engines. AdBlue is a clear, non-toxic liquid made from urea and demineralized water. It\’s injected into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles, where it undergoes a chemical reaction to convert harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) into harmless nitrogen and water vapour. This process significantly reduces emissions and helps vehicles comply with stringent emission standards. AdBlue destroys seals and corrodes certain materials.

Diesel Engine Operation 

To better understand the potential consequences, let\’s briefly explore how a diesel engine operates. Diesel fuel is ignited by compression, resulting in the release of energy. AdBlue comes into play after the combustion process, working to neutralise harmful emissions in the exhaust gases.

Table: Common Symptoms of AdBlue Contamination in a Diesel Tank

Symptom Description
Reduced Engine Performance AdBlue disrupts combustion in diesel engines, resulting in decreased power and poor acceleration.
Emission Non-Compliance Mixing AdBlue with diesel can lead to higher emissions, potentially causing your vehicle to fail emission tests.
Warning Lights on Dashboard Onboard diagnostics may detect issues and trigger dashboard warning lights, signaling engine or emissions system problems.
Fuel Efficiency Reduction AdBlue contamination often leads to increased fuel consumption, raising fuel costs and reducing mileage.
Strange Engine Noises Contaminated diesel can produce unusual engine noises like knocking or pinging as combustion is affected.
Engine Stalling In severe cases, AdBlue contamination can cause engine stalling or failure to start, requiring immediate attention.
Excessive Exhaust Smoke Expect thicker, darker exhaust fumes due to AdBlue contamination, leading to increased smoke emissions.
Clogged Fuel Filters AdBlue can clog fuel filters, disrupting fuel flow and causing fuel system issues that affect performance.

This table provides a concise overview of the common signs and symptoms associated with AdBlue contamination in a diesel tank, making it easy for readers to identify potential issues with their vehicles.

When you have AdBlue in Diesel Tank

The Misfortune and pain

In some unfortunate instances, AdBlue may find its way into the diesel tank. This mixing of AdBlue and diesel can occur due to various reasons, such as misfiling at the pump or contamination during maintenance. When this happens, it can lead to several issues for your vehicle.

Engine Performance is immediate when you have AdBlue in Diesel Tank

One of the immediate consequences of AdBlue in the diesel tank is a significant drop in engine performance. Diesel engines rely on the combustion of diesel fuel, and AdBlue is not meant for this purpose. When the two mix, it disrupts the combustion process, causing reduced power output, increased fuel consumption, and potential engine damage.

Emission Non-Compliance due to AdBlue in Diesel Tank

Since AdBlue is specifically designed to reduce emissions, its presence in the diesel tank can lead to emission non-compliance. Your vehicle may start emitting higher levels of NOx, which not only harms the environment but also puts you at risk of failing emission tests.

Real-Life Examples of AdBlue in Diesel Tank

Case Study 1: The Misfiled Pump 

Let\’s consider a real-life example. One of our drivers absolutely never put AdBlue in the diesel tank for which to this day. Our driver, not realising his mistake, he continued driving. Soon, his vehicle\’s engine started sputtering, and he experienced a significant drop in power. A trip to the mechanic revealed the issue: AdBlue in the diesel tank.

Case Study 2: Contaminated Maintenance 

In another scenario, We had taken an 18t for maintenance at an ex local garage. During the service, the technician mistakenly poured AdBlue into the diesel tank. Our driver upon collection from the garage noticed a strange smell from the exhaust. It wasn\’t long before she discovered the source of the problem.

Dealing with AdBlue in Diesel Tank

Immediate Steps 

If you suspect or confirm AdBlue contamination in your diesel tank, it\’s essential to take immediate action. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Drain the Tank 

Contact a professional mechanic to drain the contaminated fuel from your diesel tank. This will prevent further damage to your engine.

2. Clean the Fuel System 

After draining, the fuel system must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any residual AdBlue. Change filters

3. Refill with Diesel 

Once the tank is clean, refill it with diesel fuel to restore normal engine operation.

Preventing Future incident of AdBlue in Diesel Tank

To avoid the headaches and expenses associated with AdBlue contamination, consider these preventive measures:

1. Double-Check at the Pump 

Always double-check that you\’re using the correct pump at the fuel station. AdBlue dispensers are typically labelled, so pay close attention.

2. Educate Maintenance Providers 

If you\’re getting your vehicle serviced, inform the technicians that you have a diesel engine. This will reduce the chances of accidental AdBlue contamination.

Costs associated with AdBlue in Diesel Tank:

Drivers Pay

The driver still get paid for the recovery. It is ‘duty time’ can take 12 hours for an 18t recovery = £15.00 per hour times 12 hours = £180..00

Mechanic Service Cost: 

When you discover AdBlue in your refrigerated 18t lorry diesel tank, the first step is to contact a professional mechanic. The cost of their services will depend on various factors, including your location, the extent of contamination, and the specific services required. On average, this can range from £500 up to what we paid was £5,500

Fuel Replacement Cost: 

After draining the contaminated fuel, you\’ll need to refill your diesel tank with clean diesel. The cost of diesel fuel varies by location and fluctuates with market prices. Be prepared for an additional expense. An artic full tank is £500 (Sept23) it all depending on your vehicle\’s tank capacity.

Fuel System Cleaning: 

Cleaning the fuel system to remove any residual AdBlue is a crucial step. The cost for this service can vary but typically falls in the range of £200

Potential Engine Damage Repair: 

If AdBlue contamination has caused significant damage to your engine, the repair costs can escalate significantly. This might involve repairing or replacing engine components, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Recovery and Transport: 

In some cases, if your vehicle breaks down due to AdBlue contamination, you will need to arrange for recovery to then workshop. We had to recover our 18t from the M6 services in Manchester to Derby. We were extortionately charged £2k 

Additives or Treatments: 

Some vehicle owners opt to use additives or treatments that claim to neutralise 

AdBlue contamination chemicals. 

While these are generally less expensive than professional cleaning, their effectiveness is not guaranteed,

Loss of Time: VOR

It\’s essential to consider the indirect costs, such as the time spent dealing with the issue, arranging repairs, and potential inconvenience.

Preventive Measures: 

To prevent future AdBlue contamination, you might incur expenses for additional precautions, such as purchasing fuelling adapters or educating maintenance providers. 

These costs are relatively minor but worth considering for long-term prevention.

Keep in mind that these costs can vary significantly based on your location, the severity of contamination, and the specific services required. It\’s crucial to act swiftly when AdBlue contamination is suspected to minimise both financial and operational impacts.

How long will my vehicle be off road VOR due to AdBlue in Diesel Tank

Extent of Contamination: 

The severity of AdBlue contamination plays a significant role in determining the time needed for repairs. If the contamination is minimal and hasn\’t caused significant damage to the engine or fuel system, the repair process may be quicker. When our refrigerated 18t lorry was contaminated it took 4 weeks.

Mechanic\’s Schedule: 

The availability of the mechanic and their workload can influence how soon they can begin working on your vehicle. In some cases, they may prioritise urgent repairs, which could affect the wait time.

Repair Complexity:

If the contamination has caused extensive damage, the repair process may be more complex and time-consuming. Repairs involving engine components or fuel system overhaul may take longer.

Availability of Parts: 

If replacement parts are required, the time it takes to source and receive these parts can impact the overall repair timeline. Some parts may need to be ordered, which can add extra waiting time.

Efficiency of the Garage:

The efficiency and expertise of the garage or mechanic you choose can also affect how quickly they can address the issue. Experienced mechanics may complete the job more efficiently.

In general, for minor AdBlue contamination issues that haven\’t caused significant damage, you might expect your vehicle to be in the garage for a day or two. However, for more severe cases with extensive damage, it could take several days to weeks or more for repairs to be completed.

It\’s essential to communicate with the mechanic, get a detailed estimate of the repair time, and inquire about the progress regularly. This will help you plan accordingly and minimise any inconvenience caused by the vehicle being in the garage.

AdBlue in a petrol Tank rather than AdBlue in Diesel Tank

It is unusual and highly improbable but it actually happens. When AdBlue ends up in your petrol tank, it can lead to a range of issues and complications. AdBlue is specifically designed for diesel engines to reduce harmful emissions, so its presence in a petrol tank is not intended or compatible. Here\’s what can happen when AdBlue is accidentally introduced into a petrol tank:

Engine Misfire and Performance Issues: 

Petrol engines operate on a different combustion process compared to diesel engines. When AdBlue is mixed with petrol, it can disrupt the combustion process, leading to engine misfires, reduced power, and poor performance. Your vehicle may struggle to accelerate and run less efficiently.

Potential Damage to Engine Components: 

The introduction of AdBlue into a petrol engine can potentially damage engine components. The chemicals in AdBlue are not meant for use in petrol engines and can have corrosive effects on certain parts of the fuel system.

Emission Non-Compliance: 

Petrol engines are not designed to use AdBlue, and their emissions systems are not equipped to handle it. As a result, mixing AdBlue with petrol can lead to emission non-compliance, causing your vehicle to emit higher levels of harmful pollutants.

Fuel System Contamination: 

AdBlue can contaminate the fuel system of your petrol engine, including the fuel lines, injectors, and the fuel tank itself. This contamination can lead to clogs, reduced fuel flow, and damage to these components.

Fuel Efficiency Reduction: 

Mixing AdBlue with petrol can lead to reduced fuel efficiency. Your vehicle may consume more fuel than usual, resulting in higher fuel costs and reduced mileage per gallon.

Engine Warning Lights: 

Modern vehicles are equipped with onboard diagnostics systems that can detect irregularities in the fuel system. Mixing AdBlue with petrol is likely to trigger warning lights on your dashboard, indicating a problem with the engine or emissions system.

Costs of Repairs:

Repairing the damage caused by AdBlue in a petrol tank can be costly. It may involve draining and cleaning the fuel system, replacing damaged components, and ensuring that the engine operates correctly. The total cost will depend on the extent of damage and the specific repairs needed.

In summary, when AdBlue ends up in your petrol tank, it can result in engine misfires, reduced performance, potential damage to engine components, emission non-compliance, fuel system contamination, reduced fuel efficiency, and the need for costly repairs. To prevent this issue, it\’s essential to be vigilant at the fuel pump and ensure that you are using the correct fuel type for your vehicle. If you suspect AdBlue contamination in your petrol tank, it\’s advisable to seek professional assistance promptly to minimise the damage and associated costs.

Table 2: Steps to Address AdBlue Contamination in a Petrol Tank

Step Description
Drain the Petrol Tank Begin by draining the contaminated petrol from the tank to remove as much AdBlue as possible.
Clean the Fuel System The entire fuel system, including fuel lines and injectors, should be thoroughly cleaned to remove AdBlue residue.
Replace Damaged Parts Inspect and replace any engine components that may have been damaged by AdBlue contamination.
Refill with Petrol After cleaning and repairs, refill the tank with petrol to restore normal engine operation.
Professional Inspection Have a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle to ensure it is running correctly and emissions are within compliance.


In conclusion, when AdBlue ends up in your diesel tank, it can lead to engine performance issues, emission non-compliance, and potential damage. Real-life examples highlight the importance of vigilance and quick action when facing this problem. By following the recommended steps and preventive measures, you can mitigate the effects of AdBlue contamination and keep your diesel engine running smoothly.

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