Are you getting the fuel you pay for?Posted: Updated:
MESA - “It reminds me of him because every time I get in it I think of my dad,” Karin Suit said.
When Karin drives her Honda CRV, it's like taking a trip down memory lane.
Karin inherited the SUV from her father when he passed away four years ago.
“This car means everything to me,” she said. “It means... I know it's just a material thing and I can't have him here, but it reminds me of him.”
That’s why Karin says she takes such good care of the vehicle, and she always gets gas from the same Quick Trip gas station.
But the last time she filled up she says, “Took it literally around the corner and it just died on me.”
Karin had her SUV towed to her mechanic who determined the cause of the breakdown was “contaminated fuel.”
She paid $2,200 to have it fixed.
“It's a shame. It's really a shame,” Karin said. “It's money I didn't have. It's money I had to take out of my savings and its sad.”
“Fueling always has been the highest complaint category we get,” Shawn Marquez said.
Marquez is with the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, the state agency that investigates consumer complaints against gas stations.
While Marquez says it’s rare that people complain about the quality of the fuel they're getting, reports obtained by 3 On Your Side show no lack of problems at the pump.
Over the past year, the department has received 988 complaints.
142 gas stations were cited for a number of reasons including something known as meter creep -- when the meter keeps rising even though you've stopped pumping.
Then there's meter jump:
“Where you flip the handle up, 2 or 3 cents, 4 cents, 8 cents, 12 cents jumps up on the dispenser,” Marquez explained.
In all, 65 of 142 citations were for giving drivers less gas than they paid for.
No station was cited for having bad fuel.
Which brings us back to Karin Suit.
QT conducted its own test and disputes that the gas was contaminated.
3 On Your Side asked auto expert Howard Fleishman to take a look at the reports as well.
He says while there was a high reading of ethanol, it's hard to believe the gas is actually contaminated.
“So if there was bad gas in this pipeline,” Fleishman said. “Everybody would be getting it.”
QT’s test results found sediment, moisture and high levels of ethanol in Karin's gas tank, something QT maintains wasn't caused by the gas, but was probably in the tank itself.
Never-the-less, QT says it will pay Karin for damage to her vehicle.
So, how does your gas station rate?
Use the data we obtained through a public records request to see if there are any complaints about your neighborhood gas station.
Here’s how you can tell:
1. Look in the “Unique Fail Codes” column.
2. If there is a code, the gas station was fined.
3. Check code descriptions below from the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures to determine the reason for the fine.
102 - Station didn't give enough gas (hurts the consumer).
103 - Station gave away too much gas (hurts the station).
109 - Maintenance issues
200 - Meter not on zero or will not zero
201 - Marking or id plate not readable
500 - Price posting
501 - Labeling
502 - Signage
511 - Meter jump
512 - Meter creep
517 - Hose, Non-vapor recovery
If a code you're looking for isn't listed, please ask below and we'll post it for you.