Woman fills her tank with contaminated fuel. Who pays for repairs?

The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Fuel and Measures Division regulates gasoline stations.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:59 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 at 5:18 PM EST
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MCDONOUGH, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - When Dana Lewis gassed up at a Valero gas station in McDonough, she chose premium gas. She put 16 gallons in her Nissan Maxima and drove about a mile and a half to her home.

The following morning, she started her car but didn’t get far.

“As soon as I started the car, it jerked and shut off, and all the lights came on,” Lewis said.

Lewis barely reached a Nissan dealership, where a technician drained the gas tank and discovered contaminated fuel.

Lewis didn’t know to contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Fuel and Measures Division to report the incident, but when she learned about it, she filed a report. The state puts a sticker with a contact number on every pump.

Doug Killingworth, the division’s director, said drivers need to report any incidents to the state immediately so an inspector can be dispatched.

The day Lewis filed her complaint, Killingworth said inspectors were sent to the station and discovered six inches of water in the station’s premium tank.

An inspector shut down the station’s premium pump. It cannot be turned back on until reinspected.

Lewis called Valero’s corporate office but learned the gas station is independently owned. After the state closed the pump, Lewis says the station’s owner called and offered a $1,000 settlement, but she refused.

A few days later, Lewis received a call from the station’s insurance company. She says a representative offered to pay the $1,386 repair bill but refused to reimburse her for a rental car or the $64 bill for the contaminated gasoline.

Here are some steps to follow when filing a contaminated gasoline claim:

  • Call Georgia’s Fuel and Measures Division or email them online immediately. fuel@agr.georgia.gov (404) 656-3605
  • Have a mechanic or dealership diagnose the issue and collect a sample.
  • Identify the station’s owner. Is it independently owned or corporate?
  • Get a copy of the state’s inspection report. If the state confirms contamination, ask the owner for their insurance company’s name and phone number to make a claim.
  • As a last resort, file a claim with your insurer.

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