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Drivers Beware: Rainwater may seep into underground gas tanks

Posted at 5:39 AM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 08:58:58-04

With all the rain here in South Texas and across the state, Texas inspectors want to warn drivers that rainwater may be seeping into some underground tanks at gas stations.

This could be a problem caused by all this rain that could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs

If some water or moisture gets in a car’s gas tank, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible.

There could be a problem with gas station tanks, thanks to some seepage of water because of the dramatic amount of rain we’ve received over the last few weeks.

“It is very possible, depending on the condition of the caps at the filler necks and on the vent lines on top of the tanks. Most stores have a water monitor on the tanks to begin with, and the backup stage is when they put a paste on the bottom of the stick to go out there and literally put it in the tank to see if there is any water in the tanks,” said Mathis Exxon owner James Mathis.

How can you tell if there’s water in your gas tank?  You will know immediately if you get water in your gas tank. The car will start to stall out, and if it’s not fixed quickly, it can destroy the engine.

“It will literally start running extremely terrible; it will be difficult to keep it running, it will start missing.  And it will basically come on instantaneously once that water hits it…it won’t run,” said Mathis.

Many gas stations will cover the cost of repairs for their customers through their insurance, and they will have the tanks cleaned out and replaced with good gas.

“Some of them will cover the expenses on it. Most of the Stripe stores, most of the convenience stores will, we are an automotive repair station, we never had that problem. But it’s a kind of deal its always possible, not going to sit there and say it isn’t, but nobody is exempt from it,” said Mathis.

There is a sticker on every pump in the state that ensures the gasoline is pure, properly mixed and the pump is dispensing the right amount.

“The biggest thing the consumer is going to have, and any kind of station that does any business all will have multiple complaints, not just one or two multiple complaints. And the first thing they need to do is shut it off and quit pumping gas altogether. One of the things that happens with ethanol, whenever the water gets into the ethanol, it separates out, and the gas is going to come up with a strange color to begin with, and that will be the first tip for anybody filling their car up,” said Mathis.

There haven’t been any complaints here in the Coastal Bend. If you hear a knock, or your engine is acting sluggish, don’t ignore it.

It’s good also to fill up at the same station each time so you’ll know where you got the gasoline if you do have a problem. And, if you suspect bad fuel, do file a complaint with the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Contact information is on the Department of Agriculture inspection sticker on every pump.

There are several signs that indicate you have water in the gas tank. Have a professional check the fuel in your car for water if you notice any of the following signs, but still aren’t sure whether or not water is the culprit:

  • The engine might not start if there is a large amount of water in your fuel system because the water prevents fuel combustion from occurring. The water could also cause hydrostatic lock, which occurs when water gets into the cylinder above the piston, preventing the piston from completing its rotation and the engine from turning over.
  • You may feel like your car is hesitating or has trouble accelerating when you first get on the highway. If water in your gas tank is the cause, poor acceleration happens because the fuel system is pumping water into the engine rather than gas.
  • Water can also cause your car to jolt, rev or sputter when you accelerate. Sputtering or jolting can happen when the injectors suck up water instead of fuel then the car may rev when the injectors receive gas.
  • The engine could stall while you’re driving if water in your fuel system hinders the combustibility of the gas. In this case, there may be a small enough amount of water in the fuel so that the engine can still start but have too much water to where the engine can’t keep running.
  • Your mileage-to-fuel ratio can also decrease with fuel that is contaminated with water. This occurs because the engine only burns the fuel that it receives even though the gas-water mixture has the same volume.