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Bad gas. Frozen fuel tank. Help

I purchased a tank of gas(12 gallon) in early January. The next day my car wouldn’t start. After my mechanic looked at it he said fuel is 75% water. While pursuing a claim from the gas station my gas tank froze to the point insurance adjuster could not get a sample. What lasting effects will I be dealing with? I am the original owner of this car and have taken very good care of it.

The gas station should be liable for all repairs. Anything wrong will show up I think at the time. No lasting effects hopefully.

I would suspect sabotage to the car from an outside source and not water from the gas station. It’s impossible to get water through a gas nozzle at a gas station. And if the mixture really is 75% water the car wouldn’t have driven more than a few hundred feet.

I’m dealing with gas station insurance adjusters at the moment. I have been told by my mechanic (that I trust) it’s 75% water. Car only ran for 6 miles before it was parked and wouldn’t start. It a ten y/o Audi A3 so I’m worried I may have lasting damage and will need a new car soon after insurance covers immediate repairs

I can’t see a car getting 9 gallons of water into the gas tank and running 6 miles. I doubt it would go 6 blocks. It is simply not possible for a gas pump to dispense water. How many other cars have had to be towed and repaired from that gas station? Something of that magnitude surely made the local news or newspaper.

In my experience a car seems to die within 3 miles of filling up with water contaminated gasoline. My old S-10 with throttle body injection chugged to a stop in just under 1 mile. Several local oil distributors who were ultimately responsible for bad gas had stalled cars towed to me for repair and the owners were always able to walk back to where they bought it.

And there was never just one victim of bad gas, there were usually at least 3 before the pump was shut off and the ground tank checked. I still have a tube of the paste that detects water or alcohol in gasoline and diesel.

I also doubt that the car would have gone that far on bad gas.

Though I do know that it is possible to get that much water from the pump. Back in the early 80s I worked at a little gas station. The owner of the place had also owned a half dozen other stations around the area.
One day we got a tanker in and were told that he had bought a closed up station, and he had the gas pumped out and delivered to our station. Within 30 minutes we were getting reports that cars had stalled nearby from the gas that we sold.

We later were told that the owner had measured the gas in the tanks of the newly bought station, but instead of gas it was water. There was just enough gas fumes to convince everyone it was gasoline that they were pumping. Turns out when they close a station, they pump as much gas out of the tanks and then pump in water. The weight of the water keeps the underground tank from heaving up from the freezing of the ground in the harsh winters of Wisconsin.
When he checked that tank, he should have used the paste on the stick that detects water.
When I checked our tank we had over a foot of water.


There’s no way a car would have gone very far with gas that heavily contaminated with water.
You would have been lucky to make it 2 blocks, much less home.

I’m also curious as to how this mechanic arrived at the 75% number. He would have to completely drain the tank to determine this but yet you state the tank froze; which means it has not been drained.

If the gas is that heavy on water then you have some miscreant in the 'hood playing sabotage games.

I can’t help but think there is more to be told than is in the original post.

However it happened, I think there’s a very good chance this problem can be fixed with no lasting damage. It’s best to fix it sooner than later, as rust problems will quickly ensue with water in the fuel lines and gas tank. Make sure as part of the fix a new fuel filter is installed.

Things have changed a little bit over the years in the gas station business.

First of all since gas is now 10% alcohol any water is no longer separated but is absorbed in suspension.

Second, the underground monitoring system gives us info about the tanks and gas. The screen in the office tells us inches and gallons of fuel, inches and gallons of water, temperature of the fuel, and line pressure in the plumbing. If something goes wrong anywhere in the system, alarms go off and the system shuts down.

To end up with 9 gallons of water coming out of a gas pump many things would have to go wrong, both accidentally and on purpose.

I don’t believe the water in the tank came from the gas station.

I would like for the OP to mention how many miles was driven between the fillup and the no-start the next morning.

Every time I’ve seen a fuel contamination or fueling error problem (diesel in gas, etc) the vehicle owner only made it a short distance before the symptoms appeared.
In several cases they barely made it out of the station lot before the engine died.

It looks like he said he drove the car 6 miles home with no issues and then it would not start the next day.

The OP said it was 6 miles from the gas station to his house, it didn’t start the next day. This is what people who have pumped diesel fuel into a gasoline vehicle have told me. A gas engine will run on a mixture of diesel and gasoline when the engine is hot but is near impossible to start cold.

I hope your receipt reads gasoline not diesel. I have found receipts for the wrong fuel on the center console of cars while dealing with warranty repairs.

If the mechanic did pull a fuel sample and identified the fluid as water he should cooperate with the insurance adjuster and have the vehicle ready for inspection for the scheduled appointment. If a mechanic doesn’t cooperate with an insurance adjuster he doesn’t get paid.

My bad; I missed the bit about 6 miles. Well, if that tank had even a gallon of water it would have never made 6 miles and quite likely not even 6 blocks.

As for the freezing and %tage of water, even a teaspoon of water will shut down an engine if it freezes in a small diameter pipe. And if a small amount of water was in the tank it could slosh around while the car is moving and not be drawn into the fuel pump but once the car is still for a minute the water would move to the losest point in the tank under the pump where it could freeze. And pure ethanol will freeze. As always I wonder if we will ever know the “rest of the story” on this problem.

Sounds like the OP has left the building so we may never hear any more. But I stand by my belief that something else has gone on here. There are too many things here that are just unbelievable. Water in a gas station tank, water being dispensed out of the nozzle, driving 6 miles with no issue, then the car not starting the new day, with enough “water” in tank that it froze to a solid mass. We’re talking an impossible chain of events.

I too would like to hear from the OP to find out more info and the eventual outcome of the insurance investigation.

I’m in agreement with asemaster but the part that stands out to me is the 75% water thing and how that was determined.

If the substance in the tank is 75% then someone is pulling a prank on them.

If the gas sample was very small (say a cup) and 75% of that sample was water then the OP might have a beef with the gas station.

About 20 or so years ago I had a Ford which suffered frozen fuel lines one winter but it was due to a very small amount of water which settled in the lowest point; the lines along the frame rail.

In the 60’s gas line freeze was common enough that you carried a can of Heet in the trunk in case, and would dump a can in every once in a while when the temps were sub-zero. Can’t comment on how the water got in but I don’t believe there should be an on-going problem once the tank is drained and cleaned.

I wonder if there might be a hole in the filler tube leading into the tank or it somehow separated from the inside of the fender where the gas cap is located. My son had this happen on a 1995 Mustang. The hose leading to the tank split and he found himself pumping gas on the ground. If there was a,hole higher up, I can see where water could be thrown up from puddles on the road and into the tank. If the temperature dropped below freezing, the water in the tank and fuel line would turn to ice. I remember reading in a Popular Science series “Tales From the Model Garage” where the proprietor, Gus,Wilson encountered this problem.