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Gasoline out of the pump to most drivers is like water out of the spigot. They assume that water is water and gas is gas, and that, in both cases, some regulating body has made sure that what is going into our stomachs and in our gas tanks is the right stuff.

Not so fast. Just as we find contaminated water from time to time, we also find contaminated gasoline. And just like bad meal can play havoc on the human digestive system, so too can bad gas cause expensive, unpleasant problems for your vehicle.

WHNT-TV out of Huntsville Alabama recently reported on a Trinity, Ala. couple whose car was acting terribly after gassing up, and then wouldn't start at all the next morning. Celestra Gordon and her husband were told by their mechanic that the fuel injectors were ruined after processing gasoline that had been contaminated with water.

After discovering the vehicle's warranty would not cover the damage, the Gordons contacted the gas station. The station shut down the pumps, and is reimbursing the Gordons for the repairs, reported WHNT.

The Gordons were lucky. It's not easy to prove a case of contaminated gas, as Clarence Davis of Texas found when he faced about $700 in repair bills and related costs.

Davis gassed up his car at a Bedford, Texas Kroger station last year. Afterward, his engine sputtered and died. A mechanic diagnosed it in writing as having water contaminated gasoline. Davis, reported the Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reported it to the Kroger as well as Texas Department of Agriculture, which regulates gas and gas pumps. The state inspector certified that Kroger's gas met state standards, and the Kroger disputed Davis's claim that it had water in its tanks, asserting that gas is tested multiple times a day and that there is a shutoff built in to the pumps if bad gas tries to circulate.

Going to court

Davis had saved a milk-jug of the gas taken from his vehicle with a notation from his mechanic. But a small claims court ruled in favor of Kroger because Davis's gas sample did not get properly tested by a third party, and also because it did not satisfy the standards of "chain of evidence." Water, in theory, could have been added to the milk-jug. Without the state inspector on Davis's side, it was going to be a tough battle.

The chances of getting bad gas in your car are small, but it does happen. The most likely time it could happen is when the tank at the gas station is near empty. Why? Gasoline is lighter than water. If there is water in the station's tank, it will be collected at the bottom of the tank.

The only thing Davis could have done differently was have his gas tested at a third party lab after it was given to him. That would cost around $300 at most labs. And even then, an opposing lawyer could charge that the gas was not taken from the Kroger pump.

There isn't much to do to guard against this problem. But one thing experts agree on is this--it's better not to fill up from a pump that is attached to a tank that is being filled up by a tanker truck. That was the case when Davis fueled up at the Kroger. It is at this moment that the tank is low, exposing possible water, and also the time that water, if it's in the tank, is sloshing around with the gas before it settles.



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  • 333 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have to tell you that all stations tanlks have water in them.In oklahoma the state allows 3 inches at any given time..The story that you printed is not all of the TRUTH.The MECHINC lied,unless iit was a full tank of water..there are also shutoff that do not allow the pumps to suck gas from the bottem of the tank..You should never BUY GAS AT A STATION THAT JUST GOT THERE TANKS FILLED..The reason the new gas pushes all the crapp that is at the bottem of tanks all around..You should wait....I"m willing to bet these peaple are scammiing....
      hackwriter1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Aww jeeze...there are just dirty filthy crooks all over the place....
      cutsonpaints
      • 3 Years Ago
      I work in the petroleum industry and regs vary from state to state. In my state the jobbers ( independent oil companies ) have sensors in the bottoms of their tanks and a tank monitoring system that alarms when there is 1 inch of water ( 1 inch is a programmable setting and ..unfortunately can be changed ) in the tank. The problem is generally when an untrained unskilled employee either ignores or uses the silence feature to turn the alarm off. with the suction tube being about 4 inches off the bottom of the tank accidents like this should never happen BUT.... There is also the rare occurence that the major Oil companies don't want consumers to know and that is when they formulate an entire batch improperly at the refinery, rare but does happen
      edward lucas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ditto to luv2flythere in spades.
      THOM
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another thing you can do to protect yourself from this situation is to use an additive from your local parts store that will remove water from your tank. These additive have a blend of methanols, etc. that bond with the water and actually allow you to burn out the water through your engine without damage. I prefer "Slick 50" but there are several brands. Just ask the car parts place where you deal what they advise...I still prefer Slick the best.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A friend of mine used to driver a tanker and deliver gasoline in upstate NY where the winters are very cold. He always told me never buy gas from a station where the tanker is filling the stations tanks. This causes sediment and other things in the tank to mix with the newly delivered gas. I have always heeded his advice and have never had a bad experience.
        trconsulting
        • 3 Years Ago
        That was very true prior to the introduction of ethanol blended fuels. The filters usually would be capable of picking up the sediment, but small amounts of water could go through the old filters.
        audrey
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yep, I was told the same thing by a friend of mine several years ago and whenever I see a tanker truck filling the tanks I just keep going.
      j1935waspm
      • 3 Years Ago
      Happens a lot in Texas. On one trip I put 40 gallons of gas in my motor home in North Texas and it ran like crap. Nursed it to Dumas where I filled it with gas at a Wal-Mart facility nad it ran better all the way to Denver. Same happened when I filled my car in Texas and almost didn't make it to the next town. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS and go after the facility where you got the watered down gas. Better idea is to have a sample tested at an independent place and get the results printed out on their letterhead.
      AMANDA
      • 3 Years Ago
      glad to hear the gas station was willing to take care of all their customers expenses. Could of been worse and they denied it.
      gedking
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's the alchol in the gas that atracts water. and E85 is worse.
      mnwishbone
      • 3 Years Ago
      I got bad gas many years ago at a Standard Oil (now BP). IT was the only place I filled up and it was right when they changed to Ethanol mixed gas. The gas was filthy according to the mechanic at the same Standard station (all the varnish came loose in the tank) . Do you think they stood behind their gas? No! Even though I had receipts and logs for every fill up they would not stand behind it. It cost me about 500.00 to fix it (at their gas station because I was bringing my vehicles there.). Guess what. even though they were the closet place to buy my gas or have auto service I have never again been at any Standard and since then BP. It has been about 20 years since that happened and I still go out of my way to stay away from BP. Also makes me feel better since they spilled all the oil in the Gulf that I do not patronize them. I figure with auto repairs, propane fills, convenience store purchases and gas they have lost out many times what it would have cost them to make it right.
      eyeforeye42
      • 3 Years Ago
      But standing in front of a gas station with a picket sign on public land stating beware of water in the gas would not bode well for the company. Would you turn into a gas station for a fill up if someone held a sign out like this in front? Neither would I.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had the same thing happen to my, at the time, new 1973 vehicle after filling up at a Amoco (BP) station on my way to work and had to lose a day of work. After contacting Amoco they claimed to have gone to the station and that their gas was good. I had to have my vehicle towed to the dealership, they dropped the tank, drained and cleaned it, put in new gas filters and after renting a vehicle to go to work the next day I called Amoco again only to be told again it wasn't from their gas.......go figure. I was out not only the cost of the gas but a day of work and the cost of a rental vehicle. I never stopped in that station nor did a family member again.
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