Diesel mix-up at Albuquerque gas station could cause damage to vehicles

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some drivers may have some serious damage on their hands because of what was put in one station’s gas tanks.

It looks like people have been putting regular gasoline in their cars and trucks when they thought it was diesel.

The diesel pumps at the Circle K on Fourth Street and Montano are out of service and covered with yellow bags. They’ve been like this for a week, but drivers who filled up here before then weren’t so lucky.

“On this particular case we received a phone call on the consumer complaint of bad fuel,” Assistant Director of Petroleum Standards, David Turning, said.

It was just a couple weeks ago when the New Mexico Department of Agriculture looked into a complaint.

“The inspector arrived at the station. The pumps were already tagged out of order by the company, but we went ahead and did a field test on the fuel,” Turning said.

The Agriculture Department said not all complaints result in a red flag, but this one did. Phillips 66 diesel pumps were pumping out regular gasoline and customers didn’t even know it.

Drivers who KRQE News 13 spoke to said there should have been signs telling people exactly what happened, instead of just yellow bags over the pumps.

“I would want some kind of advance notice of that happening, especially if it could damage my gas tank,” Brian Bolding said.

KRQE News 13 asked diesel mechanic Matt Coulombe what kind of damage this sort of mix-up can do to your wallet.

“Two, three, maybe even as much as $5,000 for an entire fuel system,” he said.

However, Coulombe said that depends on how much gasoline someone puts in their diesel tank. A full tank can ruin a fuel system.

“I would definitely want [Phillips 66] to take care of that cost if anything, and if I had to take my car or truck to a mechanic to get fixed. That’s pretty bad.”

The Agriculture Department said the tanks will have to be drained, restocked and retested for clearance to sell diesel again.

KRQE News 13 was not able to confirm how long the wrong fuel was in the tanks or how many vehicles might be affected.

The state said it gets about a dozen tips a month about gas stations mixing up the fuel in their tanks or selling watered down fuel. It’s not often the tips pan out.

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