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Bad gas leaves Guelph drivers fuming

The operator of a Woolwich Street gas station said water entered their gas supply via faulty equipment, leaving several Guelph drivers with repair bills

A number of Guelph drivers who bought gas at the same gas station are facing expensive car repairs after pumping gas contaminated with water.

They were forced to have their cars towed and deal with repairs of up to $800 after buying gas last Friday at the Mobil gas bar at 546 Woolwich St.

At least eight people have come forward so far. More are likely.

Some of these people’s cars wouldn’t start, they had to tow their cars and get their tanks emptied. They all purchased gas from the same Mobil gas station.

The operator of that station says he has identified the cause of the problem and is working with the customers to rectify the situation.

Laci Frazier stopped to put $90 of gas in her SUV since it was running on empty and she had to pick her child up from daycare.

“Literally within five minutes the car started shaking and sputtering,” said Frazier. She picked up her child and drove home and was surprised she made it in her driveway where the car stopped running.​

She had it towed to a KIA dealership and it estimated the repairs would cost between $800 to $2,000. With a looming cost ahead she got a second and third opinion. Both told her it would be $800 because of the type of car she has, a KIA Sorrento.

She thinks 25 is the minimum number of people impacted by the bad gas at this location.

“We're a young family living paycheque to paycheque. I mean selfishly I just would really love to see like our payments covered because we really can't afford this. On a grand scheme obviously I would love to see everyone's covered and the company just take some sort of accountability, because this is not okay,” said Frazier.

Those drivers put between $30 and $90 worth of gas in their cars, paid $90 to $160 for tows and ended up with repair bills ranging from $160 to $800. They bought the gas Friday between 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The gas station was closed Monday and Tuesday and the pumps had signs reading “out of stock.”

People impacted by the bad gas have formed a Facebook group chat where they are talking about forming a class action lawsuit.

They want accountability and for the costs incurred by the bad gas to be paid back.

Imperial Oil sold its retail sites in 2016 Esso and Mobil sites are now independently owned, said Keri Scobie, public and government affairs manager for Imperial Oil, in an email.

GuelphToday was contacted by a man identifying himself as the operator of the gas station after Global Fuels requested he respond to GuelphToday's request to them for comment.

The man, who declined to give his name, confirmed the gas station is currently closed and that he is reaching out to customers who have contacted him.

Complaints came in about the gas on Friday after the tanks were filled on Friday morning, he said.

A technician came to investigate the issue.

“So we were able to figure out that it was water entered to the gas due to some faulty equipments,” he said.He doesn’t know when the station will be up and running again but is in contact with its insurance.

“It's just that we are trying to fix as soon as possible. Because it might leave a bad impression on the people and the customers over there … in the community,” he said.

Brian Holstein has a similar story. His bad gas and subsequent repairs cost $300. He had his car towed to Norm’s Esso where a mechanic showed him a sample of the gas from his car.

It looked like it was half fuel and half water with a clear separation between the two. “It’s called bad gas apparently. That’s the term used for that. But it’s watered-down gas,” said Holstein. 

With the receipts he kept he hopes he will be paid back.

Norm’s has had five people bring their vehicles to the shop with the same symptoms, said manager Corey, who didn't want his last name used.

The fuel was put in a clear jug and the volatility was checked. “And we did notice the top layer was always more combustible than the lower layer. So I'm not too sure what it was contaminated with whether it was other fuel, whether it was water or something else. I'm not too sure,” the manager said.

“So just kind of hoping that it was just a bad load of fuel, unfortunately that got through. Hopefully there wasn't anything else going on,” he said.

Charlie Stafford hasn’t experienced a problem like with his car before. He put $50 worth of gas in his car on Friday. The next day it didn’t start.

What was supposed to be a stop to put air in his tires turned into a $300 problem for Jonathan Forbes when he put $30 of gas in his SUV. His car stopped working.

On the weekend he went to the gas station to speak with the owner but it was closed. Another person was there who had the same problem Forbes had.

He tried to reach out to the company by calling and filling out a complaint form. He’s also contacted the Better Business Bureau to report it.

The operator said they will work to compensate those effected.

“I can say that we will be trying our best to, you know, resolve this issue, and its technical error. And we didn't mean to, you know, put people into this situation personally or intentionally. It's just that we are trying to resolve this. To resolve this situation as soon as possible,” said the operator. 


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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