Refuel with Confidence: Tips for Icelandic Rental Cars

Kia Sportage from Blue Car Rental at a gas station in Iceland.
A rental car at a gas station in Iceland.

Hello fellow travelers! Have you ever made the mistake of putting the wrong fuel on your car? Well, today I’m going to discuss the importance of putting the right fuel in the tank of your rental car in Iceland. 

Despite sounding rather harmless this is a major concern for both travelers and car rentals in Iceland. Let's find out how  to avoid making this highly avoidable and unnecessary mistake.  

When Using the Wrong Fuel

So, what happens if the wrong fuel goes to a car? It will simply stop running after a short drive. How far you get, depends on how much was already in the car before the wrong fuel got in. However, as soon as the wrong fuel hits, the engine will die and will not start again.

This will not only put you at risk, as you have no way of moving the car, but also cause you to lose valuable travel time.

The Danger of putting the wrong fuel

If you use the wrong fuel, the car will soon stop running, leaving you stranded. This can be particularly dangerous on Iceland's narrow roads with limited visibility and harsh weather.

The further you drive with the wrong fuel, the worse the damage to the engine, potentially leading to high repair and transport costs. Since such damage is considered negligence, insurance won't cover it.


Types of Fuel used in Iceland

There are just two types of fuel used for cars in Iceland, gasoline and diesel. There of course also electric cars but they do not run on fuel. So, there’s no risk of these mistakes there.The real question is how do you tell the fuel apart from each other at the gas station? 

That’s rather easy. Green pumps are for gasoline and black pumps are for diesel. The diesel pump also has a metal cover labeled “diesel.” On top of that there are signs above the pumps with “Okt 95” for the green gasoline pump and again “Diesel” over the black diesel pump.


Blue Car Rental gas station pump.
Green pump is gasoline (Petrol) and black pump is diesel.

How do I know which fuel to use?

The rental car company should provide clear information about which type of fuel to use. That is; marked on the lid of the fuel tank, listed the rental agreement and on the tag attached to the keys to the rental car.

This is how most car rentals in Iceland inform their customers about the fuel type to use. This information should not go unnoticed if properly displayed and introduced to drivers.

Another way to avoid putting the wrong fuel is to rent an electric car in Iceland. All EV’s do of course not use any type of fuel. With a growing number of charging stations all over Iceland, renting an EV is an excellent choice for those wanting to avoid fuel related issues and reducing their carbon footprint at the same time. 

Why do people put the wrong fuel?

So, if it’s so simple and clearly marked how on earth do people manage to put the wrong fuel in their rental cars in Iceland?

There is no single cause for this, other than just people making mistakes. But there are several factors which can explain, at least in some cases, why drivers do not put the right fuel in the tank of their rental cars in Iceland.

Some are caused by some kind of misunderstanding. For example, in some US states the gasoline pumps are black and diesel is green. So, it is the opposite of what we have in Iceland.

Another reason is the word gasoline. For some Europeans this is confusing as they say petrol and gas oil, for diesel.

Blue Car Rental Suzuki Jimny outdoor
Always use the right fuel, it's no joke getting stranded in Iceland.


Using the right fuel is absolutely critical when hiring a car in Iceland. There is nothing more important than having your rental car fully functional throughout your stay in Iceland. Putting the wrong fuel will halt your journey, delay your plans and potentially ruin your dream vacation.

By following a few simple guidelines you can avoid these unnecessary issues. Such as checking the rental agreement, key tag and other information provided by the car rental. As well as being aware of markings and labels used for fuel in Iceland.

When in doubt contact the car rental to confirm the type of fuel. Do not guess. When it comes to driving in Iceland it is better to be safe than sorry. To put things simply, don´t be a fool, use the right fuel. 

For more travel tips feel free to check out our blog about Driving in Iceland and Practical Info. 







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