OAK HILL (KXAN) — Some drivers say they’re now spending thousands of dollars for a mistake someone else made.
“It was very overwhelming and very disappointing,” said Melissa Gomez. “We don’t know what to do at this point.”
They claim a gas station in Oak Hill had diesel in their unleaded gas pump, and they didn’t know until their cars started sputtering and died.
“The clerk had told us the gasoline delivery guy had mistakenly put diesel fuel into the regular gas tank,” Gomez explained to KXAN. “They had pulled out a book. It had several people’s names.”
Gomez and others said they filled up their cars two days ago at the Circle K and Valero Corner Store on State Highway 71.
In Gomez’s situation, she said, “We felt a little tugging after we purchased gasoline. We didn’t know what it was.”
She said she was on her way to San Saba with her kids. They had planned various road trips to fill her kids’ two weeks off with fun activities.
They ended up cutting the San Saba trip short, and when they tried to turn the car on the next day, “It started, and it just blew smoke out the back.”
The vacation plans, Gomez said, are now up in the air because she has to get the car fixed and drive a rental. That’ll cost about $2,000.
What happens when you put diesel in a gas engine
“A gasoline engine will not run on diesel and diesel engine will not run on gasoline,” said Tom Ellis, who works at Groovy Automotive. “When you put diesel in a gasoline engine, it’ll not combust, so your car will die instantly. Might sputter at first, but it’ll die.”
If diesel ends up in a gas engine, Ellis said you need to disassemble the entire fuel system and clean it.
“Typical car, your fuel tank first, drop the tank, clean out all the bad fuel, clean the fuel pump, then you want to flush all the lines from the rear of the car to the front,” he explained. “Clean all the injectors, the fuel rail, and basically it should run after that.”
He said doing all of that takes time and money. And you don’t want diesel to sit in the gas engine for a long time “because the oil that’s in the fuel will make rubber oil rings swell. On a vehicle that’s not designed to have diesel, the oil rings are made of different material.”
Fuel regulations in Texas
The Oak Hill gas station manager told us the issue with the tank has been fixed, but referred us to their corporate office when we asked about reimbursing their customers.
The corporate office has not returned our calls.
In Texas, the state Department of Licensing and Regulation now handles complaints about contaminated fuel. The task was transferred from the Department of Agriculture in September.
They said they have not received any complaints yet, but encourage drivers to file one if they’ve been affected.