Ontario drivers face costs after station reportedly sells diluted fuel

Guelph resident Laci Frazier says at least 35 families have been forced to repair their vehicles after refuelling with contaminated gas

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A Guelph, Ont., woman says a class-action lawsuit could be in the works after local drivers filled their cars with fuel that was allegedly diluted with water, leading to thousands of dollars in repairs.

Laci Frazier filled her SUV at a Mobil station on Woolwich Street in Guelph on Jan. 26 and says the vehicle started “sputtering and making really weird noises” almost immediately afterward.

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She says the car died in the driveway shortly after her arrival home, and she and her husband weren’t able to get it started again.

The family had the car towed to a mechanic at the local Kia dealership, where five other cars were already being serviced for issues related to bad fuel. The mechanic told Frazier the gas in the car was mostly water, leading to more than $1,600 in repairs.

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Frazier posted about her experience in a local Facebook group and within a couple of hours she had more than 50 responses.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), responsible for enforcing technical standards and safety regulations for fuel handling in Ontario, said they are aware of the alleged incidents and are investigating.

Frazier says at least 35 families have reported similar issues after fuelling at the same station, with the complaints spanning from morning to night of Jan. 26.

“Those are just the ranges we know of, but even when I was there filling up every single pump was full,” Frazier told the Post. “And cars were waiting as well to fill up.”

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A sample of diluted gasoline
A sample of watered-down gasoline taken from Frazier’s car.  Photo by Laci Frazier

The Post has been unable to reach the station’s owner after multiple phone calls. The independently owned station remains closed, Frazier says.

Frazier says it took five days to get a response from the station’s owner after multiple emails, phone calls and in-person visits. She says he had promised to call her back Tuesday after speaking with his insurance provider but she hasn’t heard from him.

Frazier cited the lack of communication as a trigger for class-action discussions.

“It’s truly unacceptable. My family is out $1,600 but we have single moms and students in our group who literally haven’t been able to fix their car because they can’t afford it.”

“We’re really at a loss right now,” she says. “You go to fill up and then all of a sudden, your entire week has been put to a halt. You don’t have a car anymore. And we’re a single-car family, so it really shook our world for the week, and definitely shook our finances, too.”

In an interview with GuelphToday, the station owner, who was unidentified, said that water entered “the gas due to some faulty equipment.” He added he is in contact with the station’s insurance provider and was unsure when the station would be reopened.

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Several factors can lead to bad gas, including how long the gasoline sits in storage tanks and tank covers not being properly secured after fuel delivery, allowing water and other contaminants to leak in. In other cases, fuel can be mislabelled.

Last Thursday morning, Frazier received an email containing the contact information for XS Law Professional Corporation, an Ontario law firm representing the gas station’s landowner, but she has been unable to reach them.

Multiple phone calls and a voice message left by the Post with the law firm have also gone unreturned.

“Right now, we’re just hoping that potentially that email means something,” she says. “I just wish that we could hear something because we don’t have that money just sitting in the bank. We put it on our credit card and it’s gaining interest so it’s very frustrating.”

The Post has also received photos of what appears to be diluted gasoline from four other families in the area that also had to bring their cars in for repairs after fuelling at the same Mobil station on Jan. 26.

In a phone call with the Post, the Guelph Kia dealership confirmed that it had worked on at least five other vehicles with issues related to bad fuel. They added that the samples were provided to the customers for further testing.

On Frazier’s Facebook post, several area mechanics have also reported removing bad fuel from cars, including both watered-down gasoline, diesel and contaminated gas.

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A manager at Guelph-based Norm’s Esso told GuelphToday he recently had five customers bring their vehicles in for repairs that had been contaminated with diluted gas.

“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.

Frazier says she’s continuing to hear from families who were impacted by the bad fuel from the station.

“I have a couple of older individuals who have emailed me and they have friends as well who have had this happen to them,” she says. “They’re just not comfortable joining the Facebook group but just from one connection alone, there are seven other individuals. So it just makes me wonder how many more people I haven’t been connected with yet. This is a pretty high number for not a huge community.”

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