Contaminated gasoline damages cars across Albuquerque

Posted at: 10/09/2013 10:22 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Over the past two days, mechanics across the Albuquerque metro have heard drivers complaining of the same bizarre problem.

Cars are breaking down, slowing down -- stopping with no warning.

On Wednesday night, KOB Eyewitness News 4 tracked the car troubles to contaminated gasoline sold at 2 Giant gas stations in the metro area.

Four drivers have told KOB by phone that their cars had broken down after pumping gas at a Giant station early this week. A local car dealership confirms four people brought cars in with the same problem just Wednesday.     

"I'm sure I'm not the only one who was affected by it," said Barbara Cruz. "I just want it fixed."

Cruz knew something was wrong with her car when it started on Tuesday, but had trouble going into gear.

"The engine light came on by the time I got home," she said.

Cruz was about to find out her check engine light was the least of it.

Her Honda Pilot is now sitting at Perfection Honda on Albuquerque's westside.

"Cars aren't running at all, or running very well," said service manager Mike West.

West said on Wednesday alone, four cars are in his service bays with the same problem.

"He had asked me, 'Did you get gas recently?' and I said, 'Yes,'" said Cruz.  

West said he noticed a pattern.

His suspicion turned out to be right. According to investigators with the Department of Agriculture, the culprit is gasoline sold by a couple Giant gas stations early this week. The fuel was contaminated with water.

"In this case we're finding there's not a strong enough content of gasoline to create the spark," said West.

West said all four cars will stay at the dealership, at least overnight. Damage could run more than $1,000 a car.   

"It was very shocking," said Cruz.

Giant spokesman Gary Hanson said Wednesday the contaminated fuel came from a refinery in Gallup. Some drivers confirmed to KOB they filled up at a station on Paradise Blvd., north of Universe. Giant would not confirm where the other station is located. 

The company has set up a hotline to call if your car was damaged by the contaminated fuel. The number is 1-877-511-1012.

Hanson says Giant has already gotten about a dozen calls to the hotline from the metro area.   

A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said Giant is forbidden from selling more fuel at the two stations until the problem is fixed.

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