AVON LAKE, Ohio — When you go to a gas station to fill up, you probably don’t question what’s coming out of the nozzle. You select a grade and assume it’s right. But dozens of car owners are headed in for repairs after a gas station in Avon Lake sold potentially contaminated fuel to its customers.
Late Monday into Tuesday, it appears customers at the Avon Lake Speedway at Walker Road and State Route 83 weren’t getting what they paid for.
“We do know we've had quite a few cars come in, we've got about five or six in the building right now to this point,” said Casey Fields, a service advisor at Automotive Specialty Services in Avon.
Auto repair shops nearby have dozens of cars waiting to be fixed and hundreds more inquiries. Expert mechanics believe customers may have been given diesel fuel by accident – indicated by gas samples with a green hue.
“That tells us there’s contamination, heavy oil content, which again is most likely like a diesel fuel. And this is a comparison for what regular gasoline is supposed to look like,” said Fields.
And the repair process isn’t simple. At the very least customers need their fuel tanks drained, fuel lines flushed, a fuel induction system cleaning and probably spark plugs. For others it’s even worse.
“The longer you drive it, the more damage is gonna cause,” said Fields.
He added, “if you know you filled up or got gasoline at that specific station [in the] Monday-Tuesday timeframe, get it in. Get the fuel at least sampled.”
Speedway shut down Tuesday when they first received reports about the tainted gas and offered a customer service number for customers who were affected. This afternoon, technicians were removing the out of service signs preparing to reopen. But for those who bought the tainted gas, it could be days before they’re back on the road – in for extensive repairs at no fault of their own.
Fields said of the incident, “there's really no way of knowing, nothing you can do to prevent it. Especially when it’s out of your hands with what was underneath the ground.”
If you notice the car is stuttering, you have acceleration issues, stalling or the check engine light comes on – those are indicators you have a problem, especially if you bought gas at this station. You don’t want to wait to get it taken care of.
If you think you were affected, first get your car immediately towed to a repair shop, if possible. Second, you can file a complaint with Speedway, which is owned by 7-Eleven, by calling 1-800-643-1948. And remember this is an expensive fix, so save all your receipts and paperwork. Don’t go to the Better Business Bureau or file any other complaints just yet. Give Speedway time to fix the issue and, possibly, cover the costs.