CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Bad Gas? Any other possibility?

,

Here is my story, looking for some sanity and advice.

On Wednesday lunchtime I left work and drove 5 minuted to the nearby gas station. I filled my tank which was pretty low with Amoco Ultimate. I started my journey home, all was running just fine for 5 minutes when suddenly my car starts shaking like crazy and then stalls. I start the car my EPC light comes on orange and my car judders like crazy, I limp the last few minutes home at 15 MPH and the MIL light also comes on orange.

I call a tow truck, it takes my car to the dealer. My car is under warranty, so as annoying as this is, I figure it will get fixed.

The next day when they look at the car they call me and tell me that the gas was “bad”, and that it has a bunch of water in it. They kept a sample for me, but they will need to flush the tank etc. and put new gas in and run all the diagnostics.

They do that today (Friday) and call me saying once emptied and new fuel added all was well and no lasting damage, but of course bad gas is not covered by warranty so $400 please.

Of course I call the gas station corporate office and they are dubious. They say they have no other reports and if it were a problem with the gas then how can that be. They’ll send someone out to check it, but they don’t seem like they are going to take responsibility.

Before I start down a path of small claims etc. or pushing really hard on this gas station, I want to know if anyone can think of any other possible situation, in which this is not the fault of the gas that I added…

Go after the station. You have the report of the dealer as proof, and the facts as you set them out make it sound true.

There are a lot of possible causes of your symptoms that don’t involve bad gas, but don’t discount bad gas as a possibility. Stuff does happen. I just heard on the news today that a tanker truck had filled the wrong tank at a gas station with diesel fuel. Needless to say, numerous cars were stumbling just after leaving the gas station. An investigation has ensued. No doubt the trucker’s insurance will have to cover the cost of all the cars getting flushed out and put back in working order. Undoubtedly with a full tank of fresh gas.

It sounds like the mechanic at the dealer did you honest… and this is coming from someone who often doubts dealer shops.

If there actually was something other than bad gas, and they’re just trying to avoid fixing it under warranty, you’ll never prove it, and there’s really no financial motivation for them to do this anyway, so if it’s running well now I’d recommend just driving on and enjoying your new ride.

PostScript: Wentwest makes a good point. Go after the gas station. I’m sure they’re insured for this type of thing, and it’ll likely just require filling out their claim form.

I’m curious what else could have caused it that would be solved by simply draining the fuel tank…

I suspect their defense will be that nobody else had the same problem. I drove by today and the pumps were all still running. The guy I spoke with at corporate seemed a reasonable guy, he hasn’t said no yet, but I feel it coming.

I have no problem at all taking them all the way to small claims (even if I have a good chance of losing) and being a royal pain in their ass IF it seems most likely that they are the cause (To be honest I simply cannot fathom a different explanation), but I wanted to ask here, based on the facts as outlined if anyone could give me a plausible reason that it wasn’t their fault.

You can’t fill a gas storage tank with diesel fuel.

The connection between the fuel truck and the below ground fuel tank won’t allow it.

I use to receive 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel when I did diesel engine dyno testing.

It’s bad gas.

Tester

2 Likes

OP, the exact same scenario happened to my wife’s 2013 Highlander when it was still almost new and under warranty. After the Toyota dealership diagnosed it as bad gas, I took the receipt from where my wife had last purchased gas back to the gas station. Fortunately, they cooperated, although they did try to tow my vehicle from the dealership to some other (cheaper) shop. I declined for them to do this, since it was still under warranty I didn’t want anyone but Toyota touching it.

After the repair, I took the dealership service ticket to the gas station’s central office and they cut me a check to reimburse me for the tow truck and repair bill. I then presented the gas receipt and told them I’d like reimbursed for the tank of gas also. The guy reluctantly agreed.

The Toyota dealer gave me a sample of the gas in a clear 1 gallon container. You could see the separation of the gas and what I assume was water. Sort of looked like a lava lamp when it’s not turned on.

Really?
Perhaps you should contact this news station and read them the riot act.


Or this one.

or this one.

Would you like more? There’re more where these came from.

That’s good to know. Did they have reports from other vehicles with the same symptoms? This seems to be the main argument they would have against me right now,

I’m hoping for $400 they are going to want to pay it just to make me go away and not have to deal with me anymore.

I suspect that just filling out a claims form at the gas station will get you reimbursed. You’ll of course need to include a copy of the repair invoice. Generally a station’s insurance carrier will cover it without a challenge. Only if they deny coverage would small claims court need to be accessed.

I once blew a tire out on a pothole in a shopping mall. I swear the hold went all the way to China. I simply went to their anchor store, requested a claims form, completed it and turned it in, and the property owner’s insurance requested a copy of the invoice for the damages and covered the claim without question. Companies are insured for things like this.

1 Like

They did have more reports of bad gas. The cashier told my wife. The guy who cut me the check - He didn’t seem like he was eager to divulge information. I think my bill was over $1k. Toyota dropped the tank, performed a fuel system cleaning, and filled it with gas. Plus tow truck fee. Plus the original tank of gas.

I really don’t see how they have any recourse if you have the receipt for the gas and the repair ticket stating “bad gas”. If they don’t want to pay, I’d mention an attorney, but I doubt I’d actually get one over $400.

My guess is that they’d rather not see this on the front page of the local newspaper. :smile:

Correct, and I never badmouthed the gas station afterwards. Stuff happens. They made it right.

Although I’ve never bought gas there again…

1 Like

Happy to hear of a good result.
Happy motoring.

Well, I spoke to the corporate office today, and the guy seemed reluctant to believe it. He said he’d send someone out to test and get back to me Monday. That pump was still running tonight so I doubt they found anything actionable. So I’m not sure how easily they are going to fold.

I totally get where they are going from. Is it likely that this would only impact one vehicle? It is a pretty busy gas station. I read some reports that it can happen if a truck is filling or has just filled the tanks, so I guess I could ask for any records around that.

I simply cannot find any other reason for the chain of events that occurred.

Interestingly they have this on their website, so maybe I should contact BP directly if I get no joy locally http://www.kwikstop1.com/about-us/our-gas/

“The BP fuels Guarantee is more than just a statement. In the unlikely event that you experience fuel system trouble due to the use of Amoco Ultimate, BP Silver, BP Regular or BP Diesel, we’ll reimburse you for the repairs. Simply call us at 800-333-3991 to report the problem. You’ll also need to provide your gasoline receipt and mechanic’s repair bill. We’ll review your claim and any BP gasoline related repairs will be reimbursed.”

Probably an empty promise…

Hmmm… I guess I’d take the sample, gas station receipt, and repair bill stating “bad gas” to the stations corporate office (if possible). Ask them to explain it.

If no luck, contact BP.

1 Like

I’m a little obsessive by nature, I tend to not let things drop. If they are smart they will just pay me, otherwise my pestering and calling them to small claims, or setting the Dept. of Agriculture or my insurance company on them. Yeah, or the paper, or social media.

But that is really the root of this question. I don’t want to go after them so hard if there is a chance it wasn’t their fault.

The way I see it, if the dealership says it’s bad gas, and you bought the vast majority of the gas in your tank at that station, then that station sold you bad gas.

You’re not accusing them of selling you bad gas. The dealership is. But the dealership is billing you.

Yeah that’s an interesting aspect, because the car is under warranty, so normally work would be covered. So someone other than me should be paying for this!!!

In short, if the only variable that changed was the fuel in the tank, and changing that variable solved the issue, the only conclusion I could draw would be the fuel was indeed the issue.

1 Like