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Rob's Garage

An expensive case of bad gas Add to ...


I always purchase the same brand of fuel but after this one particular fill-up, and having driven a little over an hour out of town, my car suddenly hesitated and jerked. The check engine light came on. I thought it was engine trouble and took it to my dealer's service centre the next day. The technicians performed a tune-up, changed the spark plugs and checked the high-tension wires - but the check engine light was still on and the car still jerked.

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They then checked the fuel filter and found black gas. They opened the fuel pump and found the same thing, so they checked the fuel line all the way to the gas tank and discovered that the gas tank was full of black gas. My car's entire fuel management system was damaged. The gas tank had to be removed and drained. We took samples of the fuel. I complained to the gas company but it refused to accept responsibility.

I am lost and don't know where to turn. Can you advise me as to who I can approach to fix this situation?


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The short answer to your problem is that there is no agency that takes care of this issue. That's because it is too difficult to demonstrate burden of proof. Filling up a gas tank at a pump station brings together a bunch of variables. About the only way there could be absolute proof that you received "bad gas" from a given supplier would be to prove you had good gas already in the tank (proven with a sample taken from the tank prior to the fill-up), followed by a sample of the bad gas taken from the tank at the time of the fill-up. This would likely have to be witnessed by an expert - and so on and so on ...

The mitigating steps are onerous and highly unlikely that they would, or could be followed. The process of pouring gas into a tank is a perfect example of buyer beware and one of trust - trust that the supplier is providing a quality product.

Purchasing gas from an unknown supplier can be risky, especially if the station appears to be underutilized or not very busy - whatever that looks like - again, another variable.

Although it's too late in your situation Katharine - and I don't know exactly how much traffic your fuelling station gets - but I suggest that you purchase gas at a busy place. In this way, you can be (almost) certain that there is change-over in the product that sits in the gasoline holding tanks underground. This is key: you want to have fuel moved in and out of the storage tanks on a regular basis. This helps to keep the fuel delivery system cleaner than a station that does not move fuel through the delivery infrastructure on a regular basis - just like a retail store that rotates its stock, selling the old stock before the new stock hits the shelves - keeping the stock on hand, fresh, as it were.


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