By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
It’s been a month since a local Circle K gas station accidentally put the wrong fuel type in its diesel tank, and a Steiner Ranch woman says she is still waiting for the company to compensate her for the damage to her vehicle.
“I’m still without my car,” she said. “That’s because they’ve totaled my car, along with two other cars like mine.”
The Four Points Circle K gas station had unleaded fuel in its diesel tank around May 17 and a corporate official at Circle K told the victim that the “delivery company made an error.”
She has heard from other BMW owners and others who drive different vehicles who have had varying degrees of damage because of using the fuel, which Circle K admitted that the wrong fuel was put into the diesel tank by mistake.
A River Place resident put the wrong fuel in his Mercedes Sprinter as did a Hudson Bend resident into his Jeep Grand Cherokee, both had significantly less damage than the Steiner victim.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, filled up her 2013 BMW X5 at the Circle K at 11000 RM 2222 near River Place Boulevard on May 17. Soon after, as she went about her business, she began to notice the car not starting properly. After taking it to the BMW dealership, she was told that there was unleaded fuel in her tank and that the entire fuel system would have to be replaced.
On June 6, Circle K’s insurance adjuster came to inspect her vehicle. Later that day, he called her to let her know that the car was being totaled.
While the insurance company said it would cover the cost of a rental car, it was June 9 before the local Enterprise had any SUVs available.
On June 10, the woman says she still had not heard anything from the insurance company so she sent an email demanding a response. A few hours later, she received a phone call with an offer from the insurance company to pay out; however, she says the offer they gave her is more than $10,000 less than what the car is valued.
“The cars they’re comparing mine to are bottom of the line, with no options, and no warranty,” she said. “I had $22,000 worth of options on my car that these cars didn’t have. It’s going to be extremely difficult to find another car exactly like mine.”
Making matters worse, she said the insurance company told Enterprise that they would only pay for a rental car through June 17. She sent the company an email saying they had not come to an agreeable settlement on her car so they must continue to pay for the rental car.
She said she responded to the company in an email on June 10 but has not heard anything since.
“At this point I’m not playing nice anymore,” she said. “It’s been a month. Given everything that’s happened and the amount of time they’ve sat on this, I’m going to fight for every dollar tooth and nail.”
In the past month, she has come into contact with two other BMW owners who are in the same situation.
“The other two who have cars like mine are pretty much in the same boat,” she said.
River Place resident Mark Slevin was also a victim of the gas mishap, unknowingly putting unleaded gas into his Mercedes Sprinter. He said he immediately noticed the vehicle was having problems starting.
“After a couple times of it not starting properly, I took it to the dealer,” he said.
While his car was not totaled, the damage did require extensive work including taking the fuel system out of the car, draining the fuel, cleaning the gas tank and fuel lines and replacing the filters.
“It was in the thousands of dollars,” Slevin said.
Slevin said it took about a week before he could track down the right people to talk to and hear back from Circle K’s insurance company.
“It was a little slow getting started, but once we got in contact with the right people things moved quickly and to my satisfaction,” he said.
Fortunately, the company was quick to reimburse him for the cost of damages.
“I’ve already received my check,” he said. “My repairs were minimal compared to some of the other people. I’m thankful I don’t have to go out and replace the vehicle.”
While he is satisfied with the outcome, Slevin said he is hesitant to return to the gas station.
“I haven’t been back to that gas station and I’ve been going there for 15 years,” he said.
Hudson Bend resident Richard May also suffered damage to his 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee due to the gas station’s mistake. Fortunately, he also noticed problems right away and took his car into the dealership the following day.
After removing the fuel tank and cleaning out the fuel lines, May was told his vehicle should be fine.
“I’m a little skeptical of that but I have nothing else to go on,” he said.
He said he hasn’t had any problems with his Jeep since then, however, he hasn’t driven it much because he was out of the country for three weeks.
He said he hasn’t reached out to Circle K’s insurance company yet because he’s been doing research on the ramifications of putting gasoline in a diesel engine.
“I’m not expecting a fight with them getting reimbursed for my damages,” May said. “I will broach the subject for diminished value and what happens if six months down the road my vehicle starts showing signs of damage. My financial loss so far is minimal.”
Circle K did not respond to a request for comment.