North Texas

Local Gas Station Pumps Water Instead of Fuel: Consumers

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen gas prices soar in North Texas.

But if you thought the prices were bad, some consumers tell us there’s another problem at the pump you need to know about: water in the fuel.

Sarah Lyons bought her 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid to save money on gas, and that’s what she thought she was doing when she went to Mobil Gas Town in Springtown.

But a few hours later, she said all of the lights started coming on inside her new car.

"The brakes, lane assist, everything was just coming on," she said.

Lyons said she had the car towed to a nearby dealership, and about an hour later, a mechanic discovered the problem: water.

"[He said] you have water in your gas. We’re going to have to remove your gas tank from your car. We’re going to have to flush everything out," she said.

She learned the damage would cost her about $900, so she called the gas station.

"I said, 'You need to stop selling gas. You’re selling bad gas.' And he said, 'I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re the first person to call,'" Lyons explained.

But a community Facebook chat led her to others.

"I was like, oh my God.  I’m not the only one," she said. "Tons of people saying 'Me too, me too.'"

The NBC 5 Responds team has heard from seven consumers who said their cars broke down that same week after filling up at Mobil Gas Town in Springtown.

John Hill wrote, “I filled up a full tank of gas and made it almost two miles when my jeep started acting like it was out of gas and the engine light came on.  I had it towed to a local mechanic….He immediately told me I had water in my tank.”

Mari Swain told us, “After filling my tank…my check engine light came on right away. I eventually learned I had water in my gas.”

Lyons said they have all delivered their receipts and called the owner, but nothing was happening. 

"So, we’re hoping NBC can help us fix this," she said.

The NBC 5 Responds Team obtained a copy of the station’s inventory report from a former employee, which shows 64 gallons of water that was found in the regular gas on March 5.

When we reached the owner, he admitted that the inventory report we obtained was from his gas station.

The owner said he’s not sure how so much water got inside the tank, and said it must have been a heavy rain day.

The area did receive two inches of rain earlier that week, but he said they cleared out the gas that Monday, March 5, and everything is fine now.

The Texas Department of Agriculture told us they’ve received 10 complaints about Mobil Gas Town between March 2 and March 4.

The TDA said according to lab results received on March 16, the gas station tested negative for water in fuel.

The owner told us the tanks should be fine now, and he’s been waiting on his insurance company to handle claims.

But the owner agreed to expedite Lyons' case and pay her out of pocket.

That same day, she got two checks totaling $913.

"There are a lot of people with hundreds of dollars of damage on their cars," she said.

Lyons told us she won’t leave this alone until everyone affected is paid.

"If they’re doing this in our community, it needs to be fixed," she said.

TDA Commissioner Sid Miller said he wishes he could have responded to Lyons sooner, but a recent bill has made it almost impossible for them to protect consumers against bad fuel, and that's House Bill 2174.

The TDA said prior to this bill, if they received a fuel complaint, they were able to send an inspector out almost immediately to test the fuel.

If they detected a problem, they could shut the business down until the problem was fixed.

But as of Sept. 1, 2017, if the TDA gets a fuel complaint, all they can do is give the gas station a fuel kit and the business has 10 days to send in their results.

Commissioner Miller calls this one of the worst bills ever.

“We cannot protect the consumer. They have zero protection now when it comes to dirty fuel, contaminated fuel or people shorting you at the pump,” he said.

You can see our full interview with Commissioner Miller in the video below.

Texas Department. of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller discusses a recent bill that has made it almost impossible for him to protect consumers against bad fuel, that's House Bill 2174.
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