Early last week, the premium fuel pumps at Alliance gas station were contaminated with diesel. The situation was corrected by Wednesday, Oct. 10, but an unknown number of customers unwittingly fueled up with diesel.
In response, Alliance is offering to compensate customers if the tainted fuel damaged their car.
“We’re taking care of reimbursing them for the cost of getting their cars up to the way they should be,” Manager Joe Freitas said. “... We’re just making it right for our customers.”
Freitas heard about the problem when someone called saying that their car running poorly after filling up at Alliance on Oct. 8. After that, Freitas said he shut down until the problem was corrected and fuel was sampled to ensure it was safe for drivers to use.
The San Mateo County Department of Weight and Measures is in the process of testing the gasoline samples from that time, Freitas said.
“We’re waiting for the lab to come back with a report,” said Robert Buck, owner of Valley Oil, which supplies fuel to the Coastside Alliance station. “We’re not sure exactly what took place. We’re doing our best to find out what happened and taking care of our customers.”
Buck said this does sometimes happen in the industry and that the incident occurred with the hauler, which is not a part of Valley Oil or Alliance. Buck declined to speak further on the topic.
Kim Phillips, who owns Professional Auto Care on Main Street, said diesel in a gasoline engine can make a car stop running, but it shouldn’t cause additional problems after the diesel is completely drained out. He said one car owner came into his shop because the owner filled up at Alliance and that every local auto shop is helping people.
Removing the diesel can be tricky, Phillips said. For the Volvos he works on, it requires removing the entire gas tank. Then, he has to dispose of the hazardous waste, which cannot be reused in diesel vehicles.
“You have to take the gas tank out of the car, take the pumps out of it, suck the fuels out and put it back together,” Phillips said. “(The diesel) shouldn’t theoretically wreck anything, but you never know.”
This version clarifies headline to note the company is reimbursing for damage caused by diesel fuel that was improperly put in premium tanks.