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Driver wants to warn others after contaminated gas caused car to conk out

Signs posted on the pumps said “No 89 available at this time" at the E-Z Mart on Big Mesa Drive on San Antonio's Far West Side. (Photo: Sinclair San Antonio)

A woman whose car died shortly after pumping gas on the Far West Side is now fighting to have the repair bill paid by the gas station.

Martha Valiquette, a realtor who relies on her SUV for work, said her gasoline was deemed contaminated after stopping at E-Z Mart on Big Mesa Drive off Loop 1604.

“My gas light came on, so I stopped at the gas station and got about $10 worth of gas and didn’t even go one city block, and my engine light come on,” she said.

“The car felt like it was just going to stop, like a jarring motion as I was driving down,” Valiquette added. “When I was pushing on the gas pedal to accelerate, I couldn’t accelerate, and my brakes were really hard.”

She pulled into a parking lot, and the car would not re-start.

Her dealership tested the gasoline and found it was contaminated with water, Valiquette said. She said another vehicle was also being repaired for the same issue after stopping to fill up at the E-Z Mart.

An E-Z Mart cashier said she could not comment and no one would return a phone call.

"The gas station attendant said yes, they’re aware that there was a contaminant in their gas," Valiquette said. "They had tested it and that they were shutting down all of their tanks."

A message left for Shell with an operator who answered the on-call media line was not returned Sunday.

Signs posted on the pumps said “No 89 available at this time.” That’s the mid-grade octane of gas that Valiquette purchased.

Repairs will cost her $1,020, and she’s also having to foot the bill for a rental car. She’s been in contact with E-Z Mart and plans to fill out paperwork on Monday so she can be reimbursed.

“Don’t let anyone take advantage of you,” Valiquette said.

Bad gasoline is not common but can happen, sometimes as a result of water getting into underground tanks. Last week was a particularly wet one for San Antonio. The cause, though, remains unclear.

“I absolutely believe that other people have had this issue because, as I was pulling out of the gas station, somebody pulled up right behind me to get gas,” Valiquette said.

@MichaelLocklear | mlocklear@sbgtv.com

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