8 Investigates: Bad Gas

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - When you spend over $3.00 per gallon, you expect to be able to get from point A to point B.  Now imagine pulling out of the gas station only to get a couple blocks before your vehicle shuts down.

Region 8 News investigated how bad fuel cost a Region 8 woman hundreds of dollars.  "It was just one big mess, and it was all over a tank of gas," said Holly Muniz.

Muniz recently paid for the most expensive tank of gas of her life.  "It was 498 dollars."

It all started like any other Tuesday morning.  "I got everyone in the car, got them all ready.  I started to take Joshua to the daycare," said Muniz.  On the way, she pulled into the Kum & Go off North Holman Street in Brookland.  "I decided to stop and get gas because I was on E.  So, I filled it up," said Muniz.  But shortly after leaving the gas station..."I started noticing the engine light blinking.  I was in the car with the gas pedal to the metal and it was just putt...putt…putt.  I said 'great the transmission is going out,'" said Muniz.

Turns out, it was not the transmission, but a gas problem.  "Sure enough, I was three quarters water to a quarter of gas," said Muniz.

Region 8 News contacted the Kum & Go Corporate office.  Traci Rodemeyer, who is the Marketing & Communications Manager, responded with the following statement…

"As soon as Kum & Go began receiving customer complaints about one grade of fuel at our store in Brookland, we suspended the sale of this particular blend of fuel at this location.  Kum & Go arranged to have the fuel removed from the underground storage tank and had it replaced with new fuel."

Region 8 News investigated and found fifteen complaints filed against the Brookland Kum & Go on October 16, 2013.

Chemist Supervisor Wilford Jones with the Arkansas Bureau of Standards monitors gas quality throughout the state.  Jones said officials with the Bureau sent an inspector out to the site to pull samples.  Normally, if there is excessive water in the gas tanks, the sample would appear cloudy, but with this sample that wasn't the case.

"We were a little dumb-founded because we couldn't figure out the situation.  All the tests were passing until we put the sample in the freezer and did find water in the sample," said Jones.

In this type of case, the Bureau issues a stop sale notice.  When it comes to stop sale notices, Jones says excessive water in the tanks is the most common, but he says it really does not happen very often.  Out of the roughly 3,500 gas stations in Arkansas, this type of problem occurs somewhere around 2.3% annually.  Since 2010, four stop sale notices have been issued to stations in Craighead County involving water in the tanks above the legal limit.  Jones says anytime you pull up to the pump, it's a risk.

"It's a risk for me, just as much as it is an issue for you.  So, you really don't know," said Jones.

Rodemeyer with Kum & Go did say the following…

"During this process, Kum & Go offered premium blend gasoline at a discounted rate equal to the price of the unleaded ethanol blend...and although an occurrence of this nature is extremely rare, Kum & Go has taken full responsibility for this issue."

But like Muniz, there are those who will likely fall into that 2.3%.  "I'm sure it does happen at other places.  I will never let my car get on EE like that again.  I will just sit there and question...is this bad gas? Or is this good gas," said Muniz.

Kum & Go did reimburse Muniz for the cost of the damages.  Jones says if you think a station is selling bad fuel contact the Arkansas Bureau of Standards (not the gas station) and file a complaint.  You also want to be sure to keep your receipt.  That gives you the documentation you need to get reimbursed.  Jones says the station is liable to pay for the damages.

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