Getting Bad Gas?

We’ve been working on an assignment where two vehicles equipped with diesel engines were allegedly damaged by bad diesel fuel. We were asked to determine if the gas station where the fuel was purchased was acutally selling contaminated diesel fuel. Unfortunately, the vehicles were already repaired and any diesel fuel had already been discarded by the time we began our investigation. We have been able to determine that at the time the purchases were made, the water level in the diesel tank was above the state mandated maximum level of 2 inches. As a result, there was a possibility that a combination of diesel and water could have been pumped into each customer’s vehicle when the purchases were made. Once the purchases were completed, the water level could have dropped enough so that the next customers would not have purchased water contaminated fuel. It is also possible that while the diesel tank monitoring instrumentation measure water depth inside the tank, the diesel might be contaminated with something else. Something that would ignite in a diesel engine but at the same time, could cause damage to the engine – like gasoline. Diesel samples were obtained and sent to a lab for analysis. The result of that analysis revealed that the samples did not contain any water but instead contained traces of gasoline. Specifically, levels of toluene and xylene were higher than normal.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, regardless of having purchased diesel or gasoline, it is imperative that you don’t lose your purchase receipt. Your receipt will become invaluable regardless of whether you paid cash or used a credit card. Next, get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible after you suspect engine trouble. Second, advise you mechanic that if the fuel tank or lines have to be drained, not to discard anything that comes out of the lines or tank. Third, collect all contents in a clean, dry, container and label the container with the cutomer’s name and date that the contents were taken. Also save all parts. If possible, photograph the contents and all parts that have to be replaced. If the engine has to be replaced, photograph the engine and record the engine identification number. The mechanic should be able to assist in obtaining the number if necessary. Fourth, if the fuel appears to be contaminated, advise your insurance carrier and then the station owner where the fuel was purchased. Once the initial notifications have begun, each party should begin it’s investigation. The more information is obtained when the discovery is made, the easier it will be to prove the claim or discredit the fraud.

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Beware of Dishonest A/C Dealers

From time to time we have reported on air conditioning companies that are less than honest in their dealings with the public. Recently, we had a case where a homeowner had some wood siding replaced with a masonry exterior. During the installation process, some refrigerant lines were punctured by nails from a nail gun. The refrigerant subsequently leaked from two systems and wasn’t discovered until warm weather arrived and the cooling units were needed. According to the dealer, the compressors in both systems were damaged as a result of the refrigerant leak and subsequently justified the replacement of both split systems. Both systems were replaced at a cost of $12,000. However, upon investigating, the cost of repairing the damage and placing both systems back into operation was found to have been much less than the cost of installing two new split system heat pumps. The cost to repair was estimated at approximately $2000. In short, the insurance carrier for the masonry company was only willing to pay for the cost of repair, not the replacement. Since the homeowner had approved the installation, the homeowner was responsible for the additional cost of the installation above the cost of repair. It is unfortuunate, but, there are dealers out there and when they smell an insurance claim, there prices tend to escalate accordingly. Before, agreeing to any kind of replacement, get several estimates for comparison. That way, if you, the homeowner, have to pay anything out of pocket, you can at least have some warnning rather than a rude awakening.

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