Vehicle repairs adding up after fuel contamination in Steamboat

Matt Stensland

— Bad fuel is suspected of sending numerous cars to local mechanics this week, each one requiring hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs.

Four of six shops contacted this week said they were servicing a total of nine cars that got bad fuel from Western Convenience, 500 S. Lincoln Ave.

“It’s a known thing,” said Darrell Horton, with Cook Chevrolet-Subaru.

Horton said a district manager told him that diesel had been mixed with the gasoline at the station. Horton said Western Convenience was taking care of the affected cars’ repair costs.

Multiple messages left by Steamboat Today for the Western Convenience district manager were not returned.

It was not clear how the diesel and gasoline was mixed. People started reporting car troubles last weekend and during the first part of the week.

Western Convenience was selling both diesel and gasoline Friday.

At Steamboat Motors, service manager Jerry Johnson said they were repairing both diesel and gas vehicles that had purchased gas from Western Convenience.

“That’s the only connection that we can make,” Johnson said.

For some gasoline engines, Johnson said it is not a major repair and can cost around $500. The gas needs to be drained, the fuel system needs to be flushed and sometime spark plugs need to be replaced. New fuel with fuel additive is then put in the vehicle.

The damage caused to diesel engines can be much more extensive and can cost as much as $7,000 to repair, Johnson said.

Samples of the contaminated fuel have been taken. Doc’s Auto Clinic shop manager John Small said when a sample is taken, the two fuels separate.

“Generally, you can smell it,” Small said.

Steamboat Auto Repair did close to $1,000 worth of work on a diesel sedan that had contaminated gas.

Fuel mix-ups are not unheard of in the United States.

Last month at a Sam’s Club in Bristol, Virginia, gasoline was accidentally put into an underground diesel tank by a fuel supplier.

According to the WCYB television station, 25 people were affected by the mix-up before the station closed. Sam’s Club worked to compensate affected drivers.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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