HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Several customers said they have costly car repair bills after filling up their tanks with bad fuel from a Hattiesburg gas station.
A customer took to Facebook at the end of last week to warn others about bad fuel she said came from a gas station on Highway 42 in Hattiesburg. Her post elicited several comments from other drivers with similar experiences.
Stephanie Simpson said she bought gas from the same gas station. She said her car repairs are going to cost between $500-600.
WDAM 7 News spoke to an employee on the phone, who confirmed the station was having problems with its fuel, but said he could not elaborate because he was not a manager. Management did not return calls for comment.
On Monday, mechanics at Toyota of Hattiesburg had at least one car in for service that needed repairs after being filled with bad gasoline.
"We see it from time to time," said Jamey Mitchell, sales manager at Toyota of Hattiesburg. "It just depends on who manufactures the gas, who produces the gas and where that consumer is purchasing their fuel."
Mitchell said filling a car with faulty gas can cause major damage to the inside of its engine, and there are key signs drivers will see if bad gasoline is the problem.
"You would begin to see a break down of the electronic system," he said. "Obviously, you check engine lights and things like that are going to come on your dash. More importantly, you'll probably see a downward spiral in the performance of your vehicle."
He suggested having the car towed to a mechanic for an inspection and repairs to keep the all of gas from running through the motor. He said repairs can be costly.
"It can be an expensive trip," Mitchell said. "You're talking anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars of damage just depending on what is in that gasoline. The worst case scenario would be if all of your internal lubricated parts of your motor were damaged because then you're talking thousands of dollars in repairs. That's something you can't put a timetable on. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months. It just all depends on the damage."
Keeping up with routine maintenance and filling up with medium or premium grade gasoline every other time you go to the pump are two things Mitchell said should keep you in better shape even if get bad fuel.
"If you get some gasoline that is not to the best in gasoline requirements out there, you'll at least have an engine that's going to be, hopefully, performing properly," he said. "If you take care of your car, your car is going to continue to run, even if you get bad gasoline. The main thing is diagnose it yourself. If you notice something funny, have it checked out."
Jennifer Thompson, director of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Petroleum Inspection division, said she has not received any consumer complaints about the gas station on Highway 42.
"Consumers can complete a complaint form if the quality or quantity is not what they believe it to be," said Paige Manning, director of marketing and public relations.
Once a complaint is received, an inspector is sent within 24 hours to collect and analyze fuel samples. Manning said all fuel sold in Mississippi must meet quality standards set by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International.
"Fuel samples are analyzed at the state chemical laboratory at Mississippi State University for compliance with state specifications" Manning said. "Fuel products found to be out of compliance are placed off sale, and may be subject to administrative penalties under the Petroleum Products Inspection Law of Mississippi."
Manning said the petroleum law holds the retailer responsible for making any repairs and/or ensuring products are in compliance.
On Monday, the gas pumps were covered at the station, so customers could not purchase fuel.