Gas mixup causes vehicle damage

February 18, 2011 3:50:05 PM PST
Here's something to think about the next time you fill up your tank -- do you really know what's going inside your vehicle? Some drivers are learning the hard way that the answer is no, after gasoline and diesel were put into the wrong underground tanks.

The mix up happened at a Shell station on the west side of town. Drivers started noticing problems with their vehicles and mechanics figured out the problem -- the wrong fuel was put into the service station's tanks.

When Dustin Hall filled up his 2007 Chevy Tahoe the other day, he thought it was premium unleaded going into his tank until he drove a few miles down the road.

He recalled, "About the time I got to work and the car was smoking, stalling, engine was knocking. I have a couple of buddies who are mechanics and they said, 'Hey, it looks you got diesel in there.'"

Hall says that is exactly what mechanics at his local Chevy dealer found after he took the truck in for service. A sample of gas revealed diesel in his tank and that led to some costly repairs.

He said, "(It was) $335, I think, to flush out the gas tank and clean the fuel injectors."

Hall says he went back to the Shell gas station where he got the fuel to report the problem. Friday we saw state inspectors testing the tanks.

A spokesperson for Shell admitted there was a problem, saying, "Diesel fuel and premium gasoline were accidentally mixed by the transport company... This station is supplied by an independent Shell-branded wholesaler who contracted with the transport company to supply fuel to this station."

We also spoke to the service station owner on the phone who also admitted diesel was pumped into the premium gasoline storage tank and premium gasoline was pumped into the diesel storage tank. The owner said so far seven motorists have come forward with engine problems after buying fuel at the store.

He went on to say, "Our customers will be taken care of. They should bring in repair bills and they will be reimbursed for their expenses."

This has happened in the past and will probably happen again, so here is what you need to do. First, get a receipt when you buy gas. If there is a problem, take the car to a mechanic and get the fuel analyzed. Next contact the service station.

Gas stations typically have insurance policies that cover these issues. In this case, Shell has set up a phone number to help them through the claims process and can be reached at 888-GO-SHELL (467-4355).

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