clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How to put diesel fuel in your minivan and get away with it

My husband knows me well: chocolate always makes a bad day better.
My husband knows me well: chocolate always makes a bad day better.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert

I put diesel fuel in my minivan this week.

Diesel fuel. In my minivan.

For those who are wondering, it actually takes regular old gasoline, which most minivans do, I think. And I have been putting regular old gasoline in my van for several years.

But this time — diesel.

"How did she do it?" You may be wondering. "How did she get away with it?"

I’ll tell you how. It wasn’t easy. I had to really push through all the screaming red flags and ignore all the warnings. I had to be fully committed, even with the reality of a tow truck and pricey visit to the mechanic looming over my head.

But I did it, because I’m a rebel like that. For anyone interested in following in my outlaw footsteps (or not), I’ll give you detailed step-by-step instructions for how it’s done.

Step 1: You must be stressed.

It’s important to be very overwhelmed, almost to the point of forgetting your own name. This is a crucial first step in putting diesel in a car that takes unleaded gasoline, because you won’t be in your right mind to make rational, correct decisions. (Frazzled, panicked, worried, nervous, anxious or exhausted also work.)

For example, I was late picking my kids up from my sister’s house when I pulled up to the gas station (frazzled). I just came back from a cardiologist appointment (worried and anxious) because I’d been having some heart palpitations and migraines and decided to get everything checked out (which means getting a halter monitor added to my wardrobe and walking around with what looks like a mobile defibrillator for 30 days).

I jumped out of the car and grabbed the first nozzle I saw. Which brings me to …

Step 2: Don't use the regular black nozzle.

If you’re trying to put diesel in your car, you can go for the obvious choice, which is the green nozzle labeled “diesel.” Or you can go for the less obvious choice, the mysterious red nozzle, like I did. I had never seen a red nozzle before. Now remember, because of my anxious and jittery and distracted state, I was in a perfect position to not read the label. I grabbed that red nozzle, put in my card and began to fuel.

I did notice, for a brief moment, that the pretty red nozzle didn’t quite fit into the fuel opening on my car. It’s important to ignore the little voice in your head that tells you to stop if the nozzle doesn’t fit. Just push through it. Stay oblivious. You make that nozzle fit. If it doesn’t, just hold it over the fuel intake and squirt it in, like I did.

Next, you must be fully committed to make the most of a terrible decision by completing the next step.

Step 3: Drive your car.

You can’t sit there and act like you think something may be wrong. You have to drive away with all the confidence in the world, but stay somewhere close, like across the street — just in case your car starts to act funny. Which it will. Because you just put diesel in it.

I personally went to McDonald’s to get some lunch for my boys, who were waiting for me to pick them up. I am proud to say I made it all the way around the drive-through lane before I noticed a funny sound coming from my van. Sort of like a clug clug clug every time I pushed the gas. As soon as I drove past the pickup window, an interesting smell accompanied the clug clugging. I decided to park and investigate.

Step 4: Pull over, stop driving and turn your car off and on several times to make sure it's really acting weird.

I have to give my minivan some credit. It's a toughy. Not only did it not give in right away, but even when I stomped on the gas several times, it gave its all and tried to lug us around the parking lot. After parking, I took my baby out of his car seat and walked back to the gas station to see what the red nozzle was all about. That’s when I discovered it, too, was diesel.

Luckily, a lady standing next to me in line was the sister-in-law of a man who owned a towing company down the street.

“You tell them Betsy Jo sent you,” she said with a nod. I nodded back, then walked back to my car and ate all three Happy Meals in tears while I waited for my sister to come pick me up. Which she did, in a heartbeat, no questions asked, because that’s what sisters do. (Well, a few questions were asked.)

The point is, after the van was towed and taken to the mechanic, they were able to siphon out the red-dyed diesel and clean everything out nicely. The whole experience cost me a few hundred dollars — and I must say, it was worth every penny for the dinner table laughs and blonde jokes it will surely generate for years to come.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.