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Mixed Up Fuel Tanks Cause Havoc At Ontario Gas Station!


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Author: Lorraine Sommerfeld -


Accidentally putting diesel fuel into your gas engine just might be one of the few things scarier than watching Scooby and the gang descending into a dark basement. Same with putting gasoline into your diesel engine.

Some customers of a Hamilton, Ontario gas station, were, spookily enough, faced with both such fears this week, just before Hallowe'en.

U Plus Gas, on King Street East, says its supplier – Econo Petroleum – made a mix-up that resulted in a diesel unit pumping out premium gas, and the premium tank pumping out the diesel. While explaining to those folks affected that said supplier would correct the mistake, the mistake is not that easy to correct.

The station owner says less than a thousand litres had been used from the tanks; let's conservatively guess those vehicles took an average of 50 litres each — that's about 20 cars.

Either scenario can end in catastrophic engine damage, especially if the car is driven by someone who has no idea they've just filled up with the wrong fuel. The fuels work in two very different ways, and once they've entered your engine, the havoc begins.

The situation at this station is the worst of both worlds: a diesel nozzle has a larger circumference than a regular nozzle, which prevents the chance you will mistakenly add diesel to your gasoline car. In this case, though, it wasn't at the pump where the error was made, but the tank below ground. Those correctly using the diesel pump were getting premium gasoline instead, like Kristine Bartlett who gassed up her 2014 Audi at the station.

"Immediately when I left the gas station, the car started sputtering and making squealing noises, acting crazy," she told the Hamilton Spectator. When Bartlett got home, she told her husband, who then asked her if she correctly filled the car with diesel. "Yes," she told him. "I'm not stupid." She wasn't.

Both fuels must be ignited to perform, but diesel uses air compression and gasoline requires a spark plug. If you put diesel in your gas engine, it will chug along until any gas is burned and then stop: your car won't fire the diesel.

The gas-in-diesel is more deadly to your engine. While various scenarios dictate the extent of damage (Did you start your car? How much [correct] fuel was already in the tank? How far did you drive and infiltrate your engine with the wrong fuel?) when a consumer has unwittingly been provided the wrong fuel, it makes for a worst case.

Econo Petroleum better get out its cheque book.


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