We count on fuel to keep our vehicles moving, but one Houston man says a local gas station sold him bad diesel. He worries countless other drivers may have gotten the same messed-up mix.
Ryan Pekarik's Volkswagen runs on diesel, but it wasn't running very well after he filled his tank at the QMart Shell station at 9410 North Sam Houston Parkway East near Wilson Road.
"It just kept getting worse," Pekarik said. "The rough starting issues and then it started rough idling."
A mechanic drained the diesel from Pekarik's car.
"In the tank was a bunch of dirty fuel," said Pekarik.
He saved the fuel that was drained from his car, took pictures and included them in his claim to Shell. He wanted the company to pay for his $630 fuel flush, but Shell denied the claim. A representative told him Shell had the diesel pumps tested and they found no problems with the fuel.
Several weeks passed before Pekarik realized he needed to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Agriculture. On May 22, the TDA says the diesel pump failed inspection. A TDA spokesman told Local 2 the failed test generally indicates the diesel fuel is contaminated with gasoline. Inspectors bagged the pumps until the station fixed the problem, but this was a full five weeks after Pekarik's fill-up.
When Local 2 stopped by the station two weeks later, a QMart attendant denied a contamination problem. The station is owned by Northwest Petroleum and no one from the company returned our calls or emails.
"Personally, if I had the president of Shell here, I would tell him you lost your customer," said Pekarik. "I'm no longer going to buy Shell gasoline."
Armed with the state's findings, Pekarik says it looks like he will now get reimbursed for the repair costs. A Shell representative told him two other customers have filed complaints, but the state says no one else has contacted its office.
The penalty for a failed fuel inspection is $1,250, but the TDA's enforcement division hasn't yet decided if the QMart will be fined.
If you feel like you filled up with bad gas, the number to call is 1-800-TELL-TDA.