Florida Drivers Report Watery Gas Damaging Engines After Hurricane Irma

Complaints over bad gas are rising, but is the storm itself to blame?

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Chalk this one up under unexpected consequences—drivers in several coastal Florida cities allege their cars have been damaged by watery gas purchased just before and after the arrival of Hurricane Irma, according to WTSP News.

The station brings us the story of Tampa resident Stan McMahan, whose 2007 Nissan Quest developed a bad misfire in the week after the storm that exhibits all the telltale signs of water in the fuel. The obvious culprit would seem to be storm and floodwater that seeped into the storage tanks, but fuel experts point to a different source—water that forms naturally from ethanol at the bottom of the storage tanks, which was dredged up and dispensed when the pre-storm fuel run literally sucked individual stations dry.

The week before Irma hit, Daytona Beach resident Valenthia Van Meter filled up her car at a Circle K station, only to have it die in the middle of the road soon after. A mechanic later determined the liquid in her gas tank was about half fuel and half water, which caused hundreds of dollars of damage. According to WFTV News, state inspectors checked hundreds of flooded gas stations after Irma, closing 40 where they suspected the fuel supply had been compromised. 

If you suspect your car is running rough because of bad gas, shut it off immediately and have it towed to a nearby shop for inspection. And if you're filling up in Florida these days, maybe consider saving your receipts for once.