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Wrong fuel dispensed costs drivers hundreds

Posted: 10:55 PM, May 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-21 16:42:19Z

Putting the wrong type of fuel in your car could be costly, but what if it’s not your fault?

The I-TEAM discovered a handful of pumps across southeast Wisconsin dispensing wrong gas.

Randy Lewis’ truck started acting up just hours after he filled up at the Uncle Buck’s BP station in Delavan back in January.

“I did notice the car didn’t have the ‘get up and go’ or ‘snap’ that it had,” he said.

The I-TEAM found a total of 14 consumer complaints in a four-day window this year against the same Uncle Buck’s Gas Station on Rowley Road in Delavan.

Inspection records obtained by the I-TEAM found regular gas and diesel fuel was mixed up.

"If the consumer notices right after filling up with gas that there’s a drivability problem, the service check engine light comes on or vehicle is stalling, it's possible they dispensed contaminated fuel into their tank,” Jay Garbe, Weights and Measures Petroleum System Supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said.

Garbe allowed us to tag along as he and another inspector did a routine compliance check at a gas station in Oak Creek.

“We’ll take samples from both the dispensers and the tanks,” Garbe said.

In addition to making sure the proper type of fuel is being dispensed out of each pump, inspectors test to make sure the fuel tanks aren’t contaminated with water which can cause problems once inside your gas tank.

The gas station in Oak Creek passed its inspection, and it’s important to point out the majority of stations in Wisconsin pass!

The I-TEAM pulled more than two years worth of inspection data, and found just four mixups at gas stations in our area impacting at least 17 customers.

In all, a total of 6 stations across our state were found to have mixed up fuel in their tanks.

Inspectors say there are probably more victims out there, because there data is only compiled using consumer complaints or routine compliance checks.

The 4 gas stations in our area which failed fuel inspections are listed below:
1- Uncle Buck’s, W7505 Rowley Road in Delavan, WI
2- BP Rolling Meadows, 948 S. Rolling Meadows Drive, Fond Du Lac, WI
3- Mobil, 3425 W. Oklahoma Ave, Milwaukee, WI
4- Citgo, 1901 S. 35th Street, Milwaukee, WI

The other two stations which failed inspections are located in Junction City and Niagara, WI.

“Bad gas can cause damage to a vehicle,” Garbe said.

Nobody knows that better than Emmanuel Golimowski, a mechanic at Lindems Auto Repair in Milwaukee.

Two weeks ago, a woman came in with car trouble. It turned out that she had wrong fuel in her tank.

“You can mess up your spark plugs and your converters,” Golimowski said.

They key to reduce the amount of damage after filling up your tank with the wrong gas is to stop driving.

“If you’re two of three blocks away from a repair shop, go for it,” Golimowski said. “If you’re a couple of miles away, definitely tow it because you don’t want to cost yourself more money.”

Out of the four mix ups at local gas stations, the Uncle Buck’s BP in Delavan and the BP Rolling Meadows station in Fond Du Lac both had fuel trucked in by the same delivery company, Klemm Tank Lines.

The company admitted to state inspectors they messed up, and Randy Lewis did receive a refund for repair work.

A spokesperson for Klemm said nearly all fuel gets delivered by their company without any issues and that they have and will continue to work with customers who have received bad gas a result of their mistakes.

Frequently asked questions:

Who is responsible for repair costs and how much can I expect to pay?

Repair costs depend on how much damage is sustained after driving your vehicle with the wrong fuel inside. Some customers told us it cost them about $500 for repairs, while others had additional problems and ended up spending as much as $1,400. If the wrong type of fuel is delivered into a gas station’s supply tank, Garbe says it’s generally the delivery company’s responsibility. However, if there’s tainted gas as a result of water in the gas station’s supply tank, Garbe says that will generally be the station owner’s fault.

What should I do if this happens to me or just recently happened to me?
As we reported, try to limit how much you drive and get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Garbe also encourages you to notify the gas station manager as well as the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

DATCP can be reached at 608-224-4942. You can also email them at datcpweightsandmeasures@wi.gov .