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5 Easy Ways to Identify between Petrol Cars and Diesel Cars

When you rent a car, you might not be told what kind of fuel it consumes. But, you have to get it right when filling the tank because putting petrol into a diesel car or vice versa can cause major engine damage. You surely don’t want that because it will cause you paying a huge amount of compensation money since it is not covered by the rental agreement. Is there any easy way to identify between petrol cars and diesel cars? Yes! Actually, there are several ways to tell and some of them require just looking into the right places.

5 Ways to Identify between Petrol Cars and Diesel Cars

You can easily identify between petrol cars and diesel cars by following these methods mentioned below. Try at least a couple of them to be certain.

The Unpleasant Sound

The engine in diesel cars produces a distinct tractor-like sound compared to the smoother noise of their petrol alternatives. The sound appears like a rattling noise at idle that becomes raspier with driving. However, the computerized diesel vehicles these days don’t make such noises. You can apply this technique to identify old cars.

identify between petrol cars and diesel cars
Old diesel cars make loud noises but petrol cars don’t. Source: Top Speed

Check the Fuel Cap Label

The inside part of the fuel door is supposed to have a label reading ‘Diesel Fuel Only’, ‘Gasoline Only’, or something that indicates the type of the fuel the car uses. If there is nothing, you can check the fuel filler neck, the car key, and the instrument bundle near the fuel gauge. The renting company normally put stickers on one or all of these places indicating the fuel type used in the vehicle.

Find the Clue in the Model Name

It’s a very easy way to identify between petrol cars and diesel cars. The automobiles with a diesel engine are likely to have the letter ‘D’ in the model name. For example, BMW 745d or Lexus IS 220d. Here the ‘D’ indicates that these cars have a diesel engine.

The back of your vehicle is likely to have a badge with the model name on it. If it has the letter ‘D’, be sure that it is run by diesel.

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Look at the Engine

The engine design also gives clues about the type of fuel the car uses. The diesel-powered engines don’t have spark plugs. Some older models don’t have the mass air flow sensors or the throttle body.

Fitting Fuel Pump

If looking around the car and into the engine does not give you any clue, the fuel pump could be your savior. Modern petrol cars have a narrow opening compared to the thicker, wider diameter of the diesel pump nozzles. Don’t fill the tank if you have to force the nozzle into the fuel neck.

identify between petrol cars and diesel cars
Wrong pump nozzle will feel too tight or too loose. Cre: Getty Images 

However, it’s still easy to put petrol in a diesel car because the slim petrol pump nozzle will slide into the diesel car’s fuel filler neck. To avoid such accident, you should be careful whether the nozzle nicely fits into the filler neck. Don’t fill up if the nozzle feels too tight or too loose.

  1. okodel James Patrick says

    Nissan is good

    1. Kisakye Fred says

      Yes,when well maintained… And serviced bor..

  2. Ben says

    Hi I like your posts. I own a Subaru legacy 2009. When I start car in the morning, the Rev goes down then up after sometime settles down. The car pulls to the left & I have been taking for wheel alignment. The mechanic has checked the underneath but no problem found, so what might it be?

    1. Phillip says

      Does it pull to the left when braking or when driving?

  3. opiyo Edward says

    I always follow all that you give to us I appreciateciate for you advice, it has made me keep moving

  4. Victor ogutu says

    Subaru sh5 2010 model with always trembling cold start in the morning. Checked by Subaru Kenya but nothing changed. What could it be, kindly advise.

  5. Sivirike says

    i will suggest that car manufacurers adopt this> all diesel cars ,fuel pump door to be on the right hand and the petrol ones on left and all marked…this should be one of the ISO requirement for all.,

  6. Onyino says


  7. Dickson says

    The last point cant work in my country because we dont fuel cars on our own its the fuel attendants who does so… really its a challenge…

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