Gas station mix-up leaves drivers with foul fuel

MARYSVILLE — At least 37 people experienced car problems after filling up their vehicles Sunday at a Chevron station, according to a company spokesman.

A delivery driver accidentally put diesel fuel in an unleaded fuel storage tank at the station, said Sean Comey who works for Chevron Corp.

Customers pumping gas from the unleaded pumps at the station at 1206 Fourth St. were actually putting diesel into their cars and trucks from about 12:30 a.m. until the problem was discovered at roughly 9:30 p.m.

“First of all we’re sorry they are experiencing a problem,” Comey said. “This is a very unusual circumstance. Making sure that our customers get the highest quality fuel is very important to us.”

Harris Transportation Co., of Portland Ore., is responsible for paying for any car repairs that need to be made or any other arrangements associated with mix-up, he said. The company on Thursday did not return calls asking for comment.

Calial Lyon, 21, of Bellingham, stopped for gas Sunday at the station on her way to coach at a basketball tournament at Bonney Lake High School. A few blocks away from the station, her 1995 Toyota Tercel started having trouble running and eventually died in the parking lot of another gas station.

Her car was towed Monday to Bud’s Transmission Service and Auto Repair in Marysville. Mechanics told her what she thought she pumped into her car wasn’t gas but diesel.

“I was frustrated,” Lyon said. “I was hoping that they could fix it easily. It was mostly frustration that I wasn’t going to be able to use my car any time soon.”

Lyon said she isn’t sure yet how much the bill will be to fix her car. She was told her car is running again but doesn’t expect to be back in its driver’s seat for another day or two, when she can get a ride to the shop.

The severity of damage caused by diesel being put into a gas tank varies from car to car and depends on the dilution and how long it ran in the vehicle, said Steve Moa, a manager and owner at Bud’s.

“The case we have, it just stopped the car from running and you can get that fixed,” Moa said.

The fuel in Lyon’s car was taken out and the fuel injection system was cleaned. New spark plugs and motor oil were put into the vehicle, Moa added. He said he has only seen the problem a few times.

“We’ve had customers do their own sabotage by accident,” he said. “I’ve never experienced it from a station mix-up.”

Lyon’s parents are letting her use their car for now.

She’s happy she won’t have to pay for repairs on the car she’s owned since her senior year of high school. She just wants her car to work properly again.

“I know everyone is human and we make mistakes,” Lyon said. “I’ve never had this happen before so I don’t feel it’s going to happen again.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

For more information

Customers who had problems with their vehicles after filling up between 12:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Chevron station at 1206 Fourth St. can call Great West Casualty, which is handling claims for Harris Transportation, at 800-228-8042 and use the reference ID F45101.

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