A fuel mix-up led to customers filling their tanks with diesel instead of regular gasoline at a Saskatoon gas station earlier this week.
The issue affected customers who filled up between 10 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday at the Husky Travel Centre at 315 Marquis Dr.
Cenovus Energy, which owns the gas station, said in a statement that the mix-up happened because a third-party supplier put diesel in the wrong underground fuel tank at the gas station.
Michelle Wiwchar was one of the unlucky customers who pumped diesel into her gasoline car Monday afternoon. Later that night, when she tried starting her car at work, she said it was acting up but managed to start. The next morning, after some sputtering and a pop, her car died.
“I am devastated. Some people are able to afford … the issues that come with this, like Uber rides to work or cancelled paid appointments, and some of us are a little bit more paycheck to paycheck,” Wiwchar said.
She said that one of her friends sent her a Facebook post that suggested other people had also pumped diesel in their gas vehicles from that same gas station and she figured that might have been what happened to her car.
Wiwchar got her vehicle towed to a mechanic. She said Cenovus Energy arranged a rental vehicle for her and promised to pay for repairs or a replacement.
Raza Dawood, a Saskatoon mechanic, said that while putting diesel in a gasoline engine can cause damage, it’s usually repairable.
“It can probably damage the fuel injectors, the fuel pumps, or lines. Don’t drive; take it to a mechanic and they will need to flush the system,” Dawood said.
Things can be much worse, he said, if the opposite happens and gas is put in a diesel engine. Because of the way combustion happens in a diesel engine, running it without a lubricant like diesel can destroy the engine.
As for the cost of the fix, that depends on the vehicle and the repair shop. Wiwchar said she has already racked up $800 in receipts. On Friday, she said she is trying to be patient, waiting for her car to be fixed. She said for her, Saskatoon isn’t a walkable or bikeable city, and with no transit access to her job, her car is a necessity.
“Yes, the machines are broken, but boy, does it really affect the human,” she said. “Your car and your phone are some of your most important things, but you can always replace a phone. I’ve got a backup phone. I don’t have a backup car.”