What to do if your car is damaged by water in gas - | WBTV Charlotte

What to do if your car is damaged by water in gas

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

If you are out on the road, at some point you have to stop and fill up. Several people have come forward to say the fuel they received at the Quick'n Easy Marathon gas station on Trade Street near I-77 was contaminated and damaged their cars. 

More came forward after seeing WBTV's story about state officials shutting down the pump responsible after testing it.

Wednesday, mechanic Marc Zappa of Brake & Alignment Center tested the fuel in a 2004 BMW. He says contaminated fuel isn't a common problem.
 
"That wouldn't be something that would pop into your head, oh yeah, let's check the fuel make sure there's no water in it," said Zappa.
 
But it is a problem for Matt Rivenbark. The fuel pumped out of his car was obviously not all gasoline.
 
"See that very thin line at the top," explained Zappa, "That half inch, that's gas - the rest is water."
 
Rivenbark fueled up at the Quick'n E-Z Marathon gas station on Trade Street near I-77 on Friday morning.
 
"Pull out of the gas station, the car immediately starts to shut down.  I thought it was something wrong with my car not necessarily a gas problem," said Rivenbark.
 
He said he figured it out a few days later.
 
"Yesterday, when I got home from work a friend of mine calls me says you probably should turn on the news right now," said Rivenbark.
 
Rivenbark contacted the Department of Agriculture after seeing WBTV's story on Tuesday. WBTV confirmed with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture that inspects gas pumps that the 93 octane tank at the Quick'N E-Z on July 21 did have a problem with phase separation, which means water and ethanol were found at the bottom of the tank. 
 
Rivenbark says he asked the mechanic to collect a sample in a bottle just in case.
 
"If there are any issues with the reimbursement from insurance we can verify that it actually was bad gas," said Rivenbark.
 
He's concerned about paying for the repairs. 
 
Tom Bartholomy, President of the Better Business Bureau says gas stations are required by law to carry insurance.  In the BBB's records, he found the same gas station had a similar issue in 2009 and the owner did pay for the repairs.
 
Consumers just need to build their case.
 
"Having the repairs done, keeping those receipts, filing a claim, having the state test the gasoline so you can have everything put together to say that is what caused my problem," said Bartholomy, "You're responsible, you pay for it."
 
An employee with Quick'n E-Z says the owner will collect customer's mechanic receipts and pass them to his insurance company. 
 
This is not a commonly reported problem.  Inspectors with the Department of Agriculture say they had a total of 270 requests last year from consumers about checking out their gas.  A total of 10 people who bought fuel at the gas station on Trade Street have asked for their gas to be checked.  Several mentioned seeing our story yesterday.
 
If you feel that you may have bought bad gas at this location, contact the NC Department of Agriculture at 919-733-3246.
 
If for some reason the owner a of a gas station does not offer to pay for the car repairs contact the Better Business Bureau. The number in Charlotte is 704-927-8611, or you can log onto www.bbb.org.

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