Cars filled with contaminated fuel cost hundreds to fix

Posted at: 10/10/2013 1:10 PM
Updated at: 10/10/2013 2:25 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- Some metro drivers are shelling out hundreds of dollars to fix their vehicles after filling up at stations with contaminated gasoline.

Western Refinary Wholesale confirms the bad fuel came from its refinery in Gallup. Officials told KOB Eyewitness News 4 that some gaskets had gone bad, allowing water to leak into the gas storage tanks.

The gas went to Giant stations in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, but officials would not confirm which stations were affected. One confirmed station, located on Paradise near Unser, fixed the problem overnight and was back to business on Thursday.

Mechanic Richard Rozelle of Larry H. Miller American Toyota told KOB he worked on four cars with contamination issues. He expects to see even more today.

Rozelle said it took the drivers a day or two to notice a problem with their cars. In these cases, the check engine light went on and the drivers noticed they needed to push down on the gas pedal harder than usual.

"Obviously the smell of fuel is usually a strong sulfated type of smell. If you don't smell that or if you smell something that might seem sweet like corn, that's an indication of ethanol," he said. "Not smelling that strong fuel smell also can indicate a water contamination issue."

The affected vehicles cost $600-$800 to repair. Rozelle urges drivers who notice a problem to get their vehicles checked right away. The longer they wait, he warned, the more expensive it will be to fix.