Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bad gas: 100,000 could be affected

Sun Times
Carrie Napoleon

When he got in his 2004 Chevrolet Blazer to head off to work at his retail job in Hobart, Ind., the engine would not turn over.

“The car violently shaked back and forth and wouldn’t quite turn over. There was heavy smoke coming out of the tailpipe that had a real foul smell,” said Hussey, of Chicago.

He finally got it going and headed to Mike Anderson Chevrolet in Merrillville, instead of work. He was behind six or seven other motorists experiencing the same problems.

Hussey is one of what could be more than 100,000 motorists to get a batch of bad gasoline blended at the BP Whiting refinery and shipped to gas stations throughout northwest Indiana between Aug. 13-17.

BP on Monday issued a recall of the tainted gas, citing a “higher than normal level of polymeric residue” in the 2.1 million gallons shipped during that period.

The problems have attracted the attention of the Indiana attorney general, Greg Zoeller, who said he wants to make sure consumers’ rights are protected.

The affected gasoline could cause starting problems and other related issues in vehicles, the statement from BP said.

Lee Stahr, service foreman for Mike Anderson Chevrolet, said the dealership already has serviced more than 100 cars with fuel-related problems.

The most common repair involves draining the tank, flushing the fuel system and cleaning the injectors. That costs between $500 and $700 in most cases. In some vehicles, more extensive work is needed.

Hussey’s costs for repair work — about $1,400.

“I just spoke with a representative from Speedway,” Hussey said Wednesday. “I was never able to get through on the phone lines at BP.”

He did use the company’s website set up specifically to handle consumer complaints relating to the fuel recall — — to file a complaint but he has not yet received a response.

“They claim they guarantee every gallon. I’m expecting them to make it as difficult as possible for people to receive compensation,” Hussey said. .

On Wednesday, Zoeller said: “Our office opened an investigation regarding the BP gasoline recall in order to protect the significant number of consumers impacted.” He added: “We are closely monitoring the response by BP. . . ”

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