• Action 9 investigates water in gas at local stations

    By: Todd Ulrich , Gerry Mendiburt

    Updated:

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A $35 fill-up at a local gas station cost a Daytona Beach woman hundreds of dollars, a woman told Channel 9's Todd Ulrich.

     

    Valenthia Van Meter claims water in the station's gas damaged her engine, and that risk increased since the hurricane.

     

    >>> Read other Action 9 stories <<<
     

    The state has since added hundreds of gas station inspections to protect consumers.

     

    Van Meter said she received no warning when she was driving down the street and month ago and her car just stopped.

     

    “I had to be towed in because it wouldn't start,” said Van Meter.

     

    A mechanic at a dealership showed her the liquid that came out of her gas tank and she was told it was about half gas, half water. Van Meter said she had just filled the tank at a Circle K gas station in Daytona Beach.

    “I just couldn't believe it and I was mad of course," Van Meter said.
     

    The watery gas had shut down the engine, and according to the dealer's invoice, caused nearly $500 in damages plus a towing bill.
     

    When Van Meter couldn't get an answer from Circle K she called Action 9 for help.

     

    “I just want to be reimbursed all my expenses,” Van Meter said.
     

    Every year state regulators investigate about 500 complaints about water in gas. The Division of Consumer Services inspects gas stations to find gas that may contain water.
     

    Experts said that risk can soar after storms like Irma.

     

    Its inspectors checked 850 stations near flooded areas and closed 40 stations temporarily; eight of those were in Central Florida.

            

    Experts said it can be a limited problem all year when there's excess moisture and filters fail.

     

    “With the high humidity we have in Florida, it draws moisture in, that's why most stations test for it,” said Jay Zembower.

     

    Van Meter sent her complaint to the state and Circle K's insurance company.

            

    Two weeks after contacting Action 9, she got a check to cover all her expenses.

     

    “You're paying for a product and you're getting water,” said Van Meter.

     

    Action 9 sent her complaint to Circle K, so far, there's been no response.

           

    State regulators said gas storage tanks are quickly dried out and pumps reopened.

           

    If this happens to any driver, Action 9 recommends having car repair experts document what happened, save receipts, and contact Florida's Division of Consumer Services.

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