Skip to content

When using AdBlue®, diesel owners can come up against common issues that, if incorrectly dealt with, can impact vehicle performance, emissions standards compliance and the health of drivers and pedestrians.  

To help, we’ve created this guide detailing how to remedy problems, making sure you avoid doing any long-lasting and potentially expensive damage to your vehicle.  

What to do if you put AdBlue® in your fuel tank 

If you’ve mistakenly put AdBlue® in your diesel tank, the most important thing to do is not start the engine. 

Contact your garage immediately so they can drain the tank, flush out the system and carry out repairs. Under no circumstances should you drive the car as this will cause AdBlue® to circulate around the fuel system and cause serious damage; the fluid is corrosive to some metals, meaning the components that transport fuel will be degraded. 

How to clean AdBlue® spillages  

If you accidentally spill some AdBlue®, clean up the spill straight away. Use a specialised spill kit if you have one to hand, but if not, mop up the spill and rinse the area thoroughly to prevent crystallisation of the fluid. Even though AdBlue® isn’t hazardous, we recommend wearing gloves when cleaning up spills in order to prevent any potential skin irritation. 

Since AdBlue®’s urea-based formula contains ammonia, which can be corrosive to a range of metals, avoid pouring AdBlue® directly down the drain. 

What to do if you’ve used water instead of AdBlue® 

If you add water instead of AdBlue®, it can potentially be extremely damaging and expensive. This is because water can block your car’s AdBlue® injector, negatively affect the catalyst and ultimately cause the SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system to fail, which can stop your engine from functioning.  

Even before engine damage occurs, using water instead of AdBlue® will also increase fuel consumption and cause your vehicle to break emissions reduction rules.  

As such, if you do mistakenly use water instead of AdBlue®, do not start your engine and contact a professional.  

What happens if I run out of AdBlue®? 

As your vehicle runs out of AdBlue®, your car will give you an advanced warning when it’s running low. This usually happens at around 1500 miles, after which point, an amber warning light will appear on the dashboard.  

Once the warning light appears and the AdBlue® tank depletes, the engine’s power and performance will be reduced to limit its emissions. By the time the tank empties, you will be unable to restart the engine, so fill up as soon as possible.

You might also be interested in