Fuel contamination by sabotage?


My car gradually began choking and bucking from fuel starvation after it was underway on the road. It never failed to start, or to run while standing still. The longer the car was rolling, the worse it got. If I pulled over and stopped, the symptoms disappeared while idling.

The car is a 1987 Subaru carbureted DL station wagon, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the problem.

I finally realized that the problem had gone away for about 4 months after the fuel pump and fuel filter were replaced, then gradually returned. I theorized fuel contamination resulting in gradual clogging of the filter.

Siphoned fuel from the bottom of the tank revealed tiny little white particles, which had clogged the fuel filter. They look like the stuff at the bottom of the tray after you clean a paint brush. The mechanics don’t know what they are. There were a couple of drops of water, but that was not the big problem

Testing for an unknown is very expensive and I don’t know whether than will happen.

The tank is being cleaned today, and replaced in the car.

I suspect sabotage of the fuel and so does the lab which may do the analysis of the white particles. Maybe someone just wanted to cause mischief. The car is always outside and never locked, so it would be easy to pour a foreign substance in the fuel.

If the symptoms described above occur, you may want to have your mechanic check for contamination in the bottom of the tank. Hope this helps someone else.


If you have a Subaru that old, stop testing it and test your buying power. It’s way too old to be messing with.


If the locking gas cap hasn’t been damaged, I’m not going to worry about fuel sabotage. There are other, obvious, ways for someone to show their displeasure with someone.
I do wish cars had dash mounted fuel pressure gauges which would, of course, indicate when there is not fuel pressure to the engine.


Pair-i-noid, any one? If ya were on top of maintance would have less troubles. For example, If fuel-filter cloggs unexpectedly, cut it open to check for rust, et. Sounds like rice in tank to me!!


I think it was Chrysler a while back that had some internal coating on a tank coming off and clogging filters. I had an old beater with contamination problems. I just installed an extra $1.99 clear filter that I could monitor. Quite easy with the low pressures of a carbed system.


Are we getting the whole story? Is there some reason you feel someone would do something to your car. If not, why are you spending all this effort on anything other than just fixing it? I would not be at all surprised with something like rust clogging the system of a car over 20 years old. I also wonder if there could be some connection with the temperature. Some parts of Alaska get rather cold.


We used to swap stories about putting sugar in a gas tank as a prank. I don’t know if it did anything nor do I know of anyone that did this.