Should Gas Station Pay For Damage From Pumping Water Into Customer’s Car?

gasDo you check to make sure that you’re really pumping gasoline into your car, and not some other substance? Most likely not. More than a dozen motorists in New Jersey bought gas that turned out to be water. This did some damage to the fuel systems of their cars. Who is responsible for paying for repairs? The station owner says that he shouldn’t have to pay one victim’s high repair costs. She disagrees.

This customer happened to have a nearly-empty gas tank and a nearly-new car when she pulled up to the Citgo station for a nice, normal fill-up. When her car died, she learned that the tank was full of water. According to the Mazda dealership’s service department, her car needs its fuel pumps and injectors replaced at a cost of $3,000.

The station owner found this amount unreasonable. “Any auto expert can explain that in a case of bad gas replacement of parts is not required,” he told the customer in an e-mail. Naturally, instead of towing the car to a mechanic for a second opinion or suing each other in small claims court, the station owner and the customer are fighting this out in the court of broadcast news.

In order to avoid a violation issued by the local Department of Weights and Measures, the station owner must reimburse all affected customers for the cost of their repairs. He does accept the blame for the bad fuel delivery and damage to customers’ cars, and he has paid for repairs to all vehicles except this one. He accepts the blame, but doesn’t want to accept this huge bill.

Woman Wants Citgo Station To Pick Up Tab For Damage Caused By Bad Fuel [CBS New York]

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  1. MarthaGaill says:

    In most places the person is free to take their vehicle to be repaired at the location of their choosing. Ten bucks says if this goes to court, the gas station owner will lose.

    • OrionBFury says:

      While they’re free to go where they want, this isn’t an insurance issue. While they don’t state the amount of the other cars, the bill probably is much higher for this one than any of the others, and it’s thus possible that the mechanic/car owner is padding the bill. I can see the courts ordering or accepting a request from the station owner for one or more checks with other mechanics, then applying the average as a judgement.

  2. DrRon says:

    Since NJ doesn’t allow self pumping of gasoline, nobody can blame the consumer(ist).