Virginia gas station mistakenly puts diesel in pumps, costing drivers hundreds in repairs

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia gas station mistakenly put diesel fuel in its pumps, costing some drivers hundreds of dollars in repairs.

The fuel mix-up happened at a Shell gas station in the Ruther Glen area in Caroline County on Wednesday. Grayson Ang, who was traveling from Maryland to Richmond for Thanksgiving, was one of several who reported the issue.

He said his car issues began shortly after he stopped to fill up his tank with what he thought was unleaded gas.

“It would turn on, then turn right off. Then I tried to hit the gas and it would rev but turn off,” Ang said. “The next morning, it wouldn’t start. So, I had it towed to a local mechanic, and they told me it was filled with diesel, and I was like, ‘What? That’s impossible.’”

He added, “As far as I know, you can’t even pump diesel because the nozzle doesn’t fit, so I knew it wasn’t our fault.”

It cost $848.26 to fix the issue, according to receipts obtained by WRIC.

Mechanics said in a case like this, it is vital to get an emergency tow so technicians can pump the diesel fuel out then rinse away any residue. Estimates for this service range from $500 to $1000.

“They had to drop the tank, empty it, clean it out, and fill it,” said Ang. “I called Shell corporate because I couldn’t reach the gas station. They sent me an email and a form.”

Store clerk Cindy Rioja said she, too, was a victim.

“Diesel guy comes, pumps it into our system, leaves … all of a sudden we have problems,” she said. “Went to start my car back up, it wouldn’t start. I had to hold my foot to the floor.” 

Rioja said she and Ang are likely just two of hundreds of drivers impacted by the fuel mix-up, which involved all four of the station’s gas pumps for nearly 24 hours.

It wasn’t until Thursday morning when Rioja returned that she found the pumps covered in trash bags.

“People were traveling through here for Thanksgiving. Some of them got stranded, so it’s just a big mess,” she said.

Rioja and Ang said the company has been slow to respond to damage reports.

“I’m frustrated,” Rioja said.

WRIC reached out to Shell to find out how many drivers were impacted and whether they will be reimbursed for damages, but the company did not immediately respond.

“I’m just hoping I get my money back,” Ang said. “The only concern is if I have any long-term damage.”

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