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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Examination of 2005 Gulfstream RV

Earlier this year, a preliminary examination of a 2005 Gulfstreram RV was conducted. It was determined that the engine in this vehicle was subject to recall due to a defective fuel damper retainer clip (GM recall # 06080A). Because of the potential for subrogation against the parties that were involved in the manufacture of the vehicle, each party was notified and invited to attend a joint examination of the vehicle. The examination took place on July 27, 2010 at a local dealership. The examination of  the vehicle was conducted in strict accordance with accepted practicies regarding disassembly of the vehicle. That is, nothing was removed until all parties had arrived and were available to view to the process together. In other words, everyone saw everything at the same time. More specifically, when the fuel damper retainer clip was uncovered, everyone was able to see and document the condition of the clip. The retainer clip was found to have been broken and as the recall stated, most likely allowed fuel leakage to occur. For those unfamilar with the subrogation process and generally speaking, the representatives attending the exam will  prepare their reports (if necessary).  At some point in the near future, the major parties will come together and try to work out an acceptable settlement. If there is no agreement, then the case will have to be settled in court.

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