Watered-Down Fuel Wrecks Local Woman's Vehicle - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/04/06

Watered-Down Fuel Wrecks Local Woman's Vehicle

Sharpe pours out the watery gas. Sharpe pours out the watery gas.

You pay for gas, you expect gas. Quality gasoline, especially at these prices. One woman says she got a surprise in her sport utility's gas tank, and now it won't run. One second, she filled up at a local gas station. A few miles later, her SUV conked out.

Deborah Brinkley barely made it back to the mechanic, where earlier it was running smoothly and just had an oil change and tune-up. Then they checked the gas tank.

"I bought gas at this Enmark station behind me," she told us when we met up with her at a station on Abercorn Street. "Pump #4. 93 octane."

A little while later, Brinkley says her 2000 Nissan Extera started to rumble.

"It was jerking and jerking and stopping," she said. "We limped back to Speedee Oil where it had been earlier."

"All I know, the car was serviced, it sounded fine," said Al Sharpe with Speedee Oil Change. "Two, 2 1/2 hours later, the car hobbled back."

Speedee Oil Change gave Brinkley's vehicle a tune-up earlier. When she brought it back, they discovered the catalytic converters were shot. So they pumped the gas out of the gas tank. When Sharpe took it out, he knew something was wrong.

"It didn't smell like gas," he said. "No smell of fuel, what we took out of that tank. It's water. It's clear. No color or fuel smell."

"Crystal clear," said Brinkley. "Almost drinkable water. I pumped the water into my car. I did it myself out of their tank. I believed I was getting fuel, not water.

"Enmark does not believe it," she went on.

And they don't. We contacted Enmark, who did send someone the next day to test the fuel. In a statement, Enmark officials tell WTOC: "Based on our tests, it does not show any water found in the fuel which would have caused the damage to the vehicle or warrant us to pay for repairs."

"They say there is nothing wrong with it, but we took out the gas," said Sharpe.

Sharpe claims he's seen watered-down gas from most gas stations. "It happens everywhere. Depends on the suppliers. You never know what you are getting. You really don't."

"I'm a cancer patient, have lots of doctor visits," said Brinkley. "I want my car fixed. That's all I want."

Enmark says it's not their fault. Speedee says it's not theirs either. And Brinkley is the one left holding a hefty bill. "Between medical bills and Medicare, I don't have 1,259 dollars extra."

Enmark now is taking a second look at the situation, meeting with Speedee Oil Change tomorrow morning. Director of operations at Enmark, Jerry Morris, says he wants to see firsthand what is going on. They will retest.

Meanwhile, Brinkley has been without her vehicle for two months. We'll keep you posted on what happens next.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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