MERIDIAN -- KTVB learned several cars all ended up at a mechanic's shop with the same problems, all there after getting gas at a local Chevron.
"The common denominator with these three vehicles is they all filled up at the exact same station within a 24 hour period," John's Auto Care Center manager Clint White said.
White contacted KTVB because he was concerned for his customers and wondered if more people may have had the same problems. The gas station in question is the Jacksons Food Store Chevron on East Fairview Ave at North Locust Grove Road in Meridian.
Three cars with similar issues after fueling up at same station
On Monday, White says his shop got three cars in back to back-to-back, with the same problems.
"I've got a Hyundai, a Volkswagen and a Toyota that have all been towed in within the course of about two to three hours, all with the exact same symptoms," White said. "All three of them filled up at the Chevron at Locust Grove and Fairview within the last 24 hours. Within ten minutes to an hour of filling up, they all began to run extremely poorly and basically spew a lot of smoke out the tailpipe."
White says the first vehicle in the shop was confusing, but after realizing the common factor, he says it was pretty obvious there was an issue with the fuel. He says it was not properly combusting.
"It's just something that's not actually burning completely, and it's fouling the spark plugs out," White said. "We're finding there's some sort of contaminant in the fuel. I don't know what it is. I'm not able to analyze it here. I'm concerned if this doesn't get out, that other people are going to be affected, and this is a very expensive repair."
White says he called KTVB because repairs from bad fuel are running $600-800, and he and his customers weren't initially getting answers from Jacksons.
"I've been trying to get a hold of them. Have not received positive results from that. I've left messages for their district manager, called the store manager," White said.
Jacksons: Fuel had diesel mixed in
After phone calls and emails to the company, Jacksons' CEO John Jackson called and said they found the problem was some diesel got mixed into the unleaded tank that feeds the pump.
"At this point, and it's early on in our investigation, but it appears we had a mix of diesel inadvertently getting added into the gasoline," Jackson said.
The issue appears to be a mistake by a fuel delivery driver, Jackson explained. He says they only know of a few cases and the problem appears isolated to the one station. Jackson says they have fixed the issue.
"We have flushed our tank and refilled it with good product. We're back in business now on the gasoline. We only know of three customers that had a problem, and we'll of course take care of them. And if there are others, we'll take care of them as well," Jackson said.
Company apologizes, offers to pay repair bills
In addition to the apology and taking care of bills, Jacksons is investigating to definitively determine a cause and if any changes need to be made. Jackson says they plan to run samples, conduct interviews and review records.
Jackson says they currently have protections in place, like color-coded caps and inventory records, and he believes this was an instance of simple human error. Most drivers are employees of Jacksons; however, some are brought in. Jackson is unsure if this driver was one of his employees.
KTVB has a fuel sample taken directly from one of the cars in the shop. Jacksons said they would like to have some of the sample for testing, which KTVB plans to turn over for the investigation. Jackson says preliminary tests of fuel at the gas station revealed what's considered a low diesel percentage, around 3.5%.
**UPDATE: Jackson's confirms more stations with contaminated gas**
Tuesday afternoon Jacksons confirmed that four stations were affected by the contaminated fuel. The locations are:
- 2728 Orchard St, Boise
- 612 Northside Blvd, Nampa
- 4315 Garrity Blvd, Nampa
- 1950 E Fairview, Meridian
If you believe you had an issue connected to this, Jacksons says you can call their headquarters at 208-888-6061.