Contaminated Fuel Issue from United Bass Hill Servo

Filled full tank of U91 (36L) up from United servo in Bass Hill, not even 300-400 metres the car shutdown. Called a mobile mechanic over and diagnosed the issue and found that there is water in the fuel and all over the fuel pump. He confirmed the issue by removing a hose that connects to the engine and the liquid in the hose had no smell of fuel and was just water.

I went back to the station with my receipt and spoke to the owner which I advised him of what has happened. He did not have a friendly approach and did not want to work with me and said "I'll get my lawyer and you get your lawyer and I'll see you in court" and kept on making excuses that it could be another fault or the mechanic is not qualified. Mechanic said it's going to cost about $2300 to clean out and repairs and advised my tank is literally filled with water (see attached videos)

What would the next steps be taken in order to get reimbursed? Fair trading?
Appreciate your help people

Edit: got an offical quote from mechanic of $1700 and start work Monday. Unable to get in touch with owner after waiting in shop for 30mins in morning and calling servo in the arvo and staff dunno when he comes in

Edit: Submitted mechanic report and receipt to head office in Victoria and got a call from station owner advising that he will cover all the costs involved as water was in the fuel from my tank. Close to 50% of water was found in my tank after filling up from there!!
Thank you everyone that has helped and always have them receipts on hand.

Related Stores

United Petroleum
United Petroleum


    • I am not sure about other cars that broke down. I have the sample in my tank. Mechanic will start work on it on Monday and advised fuel pump, filter, injection plugs and a pipe and gave me an official quote of $1700 today afternoon

      • +7

        That's not proof. That's proof you have rubbish in your tank, not that it came from that servo.

        • +1

          2 days have past I hope that dude acted quickly for an actual sample

        • +1

          Turns out it was proof. The rubbish did come from the servo. Case resolved this afternoon and station owner has agreed to cover all the costs involved for repairs + fuel.

        • +3

          Read the article from Peter Cohen. Fuel in the tank IS PROOF, no use being a keyboard lawyer, read the previous cases.

          • +3

            @Mysterious Laptop: Its simple aye. But people here I guess are overqualified mechanics, lawyers & critics

        • -1

          So you were sitting in the tank and saw what happened?

  • +14

    This happened to me earlier in the year at a caltex near me. I actually posted about it in here.
    I filled up and my car died 5 min up the road. Had the mechanic come out who said it was the fuel so I called the caltex who also denied it. I went back later that night and the bowsers were shut down so I took photos and posted all over facebook which got a lot of attention and the owner called me promising to pay for all repairs if I took the post down. I later found out 7 or so other cars had been affected.
    I had the money reimbursed a few days later.
    See if they've closed down the pumps. If they have others would have reported issues as well. I posted to facebook and it worked so you could try that if all else fails.
    Also I paid roughly $1000 to get my car fixed which is also a toyota corolla

    • Thanks for the tips

  • MFQGA! Make Fuel Quality Great Again!

    • You wouldn't believe it. I have the best fuel. None is better.

    • +12

      This isn't a criminal case mate. You don't need to prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

      You've also just made up a whole bunch of assumptions and treating them as fact.

      Let's break down your argument.

      OP obviously shops around for the cheapest fuel

      You just made this up
      Check the link at the bottom of my comment, BP admitted fault are they a cheap brand?

      so water could have entered the tank anywhere

      This doesn't follow.

      OP has not stated where he last filled his car (prior fill)

      So? The OP drove their car to another petrol station see the next one about your lack of understanding about high school physics.

      The water could have built up over a number of fills

      This shows like lack fundamental knowledge, you know how petrol floats on water? Think about that for a few minutes.

      Water could have enterd the tank whilst OP was washing the car.

      What? You realise there is a fuel cap? How do you wash your car mate.

      Getting any service station to admit fault is impossible

      Based on what.

      This is why its impossible to pass blame onto any particular petrol station

      Here is BP admitting fault.

      OP here is government advice on what to do:

      No need even for small claims tribunal yet, send the costs to the servo if they don't pay it then you can pursue further options.

      You don't need to prove that aliens did not inject water through teleportation during your drive.

  • +1

    All it will actually need is fresh fuel, fresh filter and a good drain out. The pump will not be damaged, nor will the injectors.
    It’s not a crd diesel. I pump water with old petrol fuel pumps all the time, they have a convenient flow rate and pressure!

    On the bad fuel issue, the issue is proving it. The easiest way is if there are many people in the same boat, then they usually make it public that they are fixing the problem. It sucks balls mate, good luck!

  • +1

    It's too late on this occasion but this why I only fill up at one of the large operators' service stations. They are public companies and have a brand and reputation to protect.

    Coles Express is safest because they are all wholy operated by Coles/viva. Most Caltex are company operated and the old Woolworths stations (now EG Group) should be fine too. BP also good if you make sure its not a dealer or franchise.

    It's really not worth the risk to save a couple of bucks.

    • +1

      They are public companies and have a brand and reputation to protect.

      They also have shareholders capital to protect.

      To protect this they have no reason to pay for damages that someone alleges they have caused. Just like an independent service station.

      • This Choice article agrees with BNR34:

        CHOICE received fewer complaints against larger, company-owned petrol providers. Often they would cover the cost of repairs to maintain a good reputation.

  • There definitely used to be some dodgy operators out there, and probably still are, who were extending their fuel with all sorts of impurities to make an extra buck.
    I think that the government has stopped enforcing the law around this. I think that the compliance budget on this and many other tax issues has been cut heavily, and now the government expects the guilty to "self disclose"!
    I only buy at the big name company service stations to reduce this risk.

    • Which are big names?

      • +1

        Big name Companies, such as BP, SHELL, CALTEX.

        • +2

          7 eleven Mobil not considered big name?

  • +1

    Get some advice from people that know the law: contact your states Fair trading, no need to pay for a laywer yet that's just silly.

  • -3

    55L tank capacity less 36L fuel = 19L of unknown liquid in your tank prior to filling up.

    Is your car garaged at night?

    • +2

      Correct it is garaged. Every time I fill up, I've never filled up past 36 or 37L. Had this car for 5 years

      • What would the next steps be taken in order to get reimbursed? Fair trading?

        Your insurance would be your best bet.

        BTW, anecdotally, a car may travel up to 10km on contaminated fuel without any noticeable issue. How far do you live from the servo?

        • OP must live further than 400 metres from the servo.

          not even 300-400 metres the car shutdown

        • 3km, 5mins

    • Do you slink around putting water in people's cars at night? You animal

  • +4

    MY 2008 Corolla only takes 37-39L when the fuel light comes on to.
    I always assumed it had a 45L tank XD
    wrongly ….. i assume by this thread

  • +2

    Did you keep the receipt for the purchase of the fuel?

    Something I was told a long time ago was to keep your receipt in case this happens. Or else you have no proof and no case.

    Please keep us updated because I'm very interested to know how this turns out and what worked. My first instinct would be to talk to the owner, the United head office management or complaints team, then ACCC if no result.

    But watching a real life event unfold is very interesting to me.

    • Correct sir. I do have the receipt of the purchase. As I said owner didnt have a friendly approach after advising him what the mechanic has told me after his testing, but I have got in touch with United HQ via email and work is in progress

  • +6

    Damn. This whole thing has convinced me to always get the receipt for fuel. I usually never cared for getting one but finding out about this, it's a good thing you had your receipt for proof of the day and time, location and petrol type.

    I'm sorry about what happened OP, but your misfortune has taught us something important. I didn't even think this was a thing known to happen.

    It's too bad you couldn't go back to the petrol station and see if it still was pumping out water instead of petrol and maybe video it.

    • +5

      I've gotten a resolution and the owner has contacted me today to advise that all costs will be taken care of :)

      • That's good to hear mate. Glad things worked out :)

  • How does this even happen, bizarre.

    • Someone breaking down just after filling up? I’d assume it happens all the time.

    • Water contamination in Fuel tanks and Fuel bladders is more common than you might think. There is various ways but one way is via condensation, i.e. the fuel in the tank is low ish and the condensation builds over a cool night then is mixed in with the fuel. Also petrol and water have differing weights. Or the draining or bladder is receiving the wrong drainage or flow ect.
      I had experienced this with my Pilot's license, granted this was concerned with the Plane's fuel bladder the concept applied to underground storage tanks. However I'm not sure if only condensation could be at fault perhaps there is a few things at play.

    • +3

      Jesus chrrrisstttt…..

  • +3

    I had the same thing for my Diesel Hilux sometime before. About 1/2 Tank was filled in one of the Coles Express servos. After about 15-20km's I had diesel filter light on. Drained about 20 times every time when it came on. I also made a complaint in the servo itself. They did not want to accept it initially. However, gave me a number to call. They appointed independent investigator, investigating took about a month and they finally accepted the fault.

    They asked for my expenses and receipts which I did not have as I did my self. Lessons learned, never got back to that servo and I always take the receipt and keep it for some time now.

  • +3

    I had the same thing happen using a different fuel company. Luckily, I kept receipts for my fuel purchase. I had difficulty trying to contact the servo, because they don't readily advertise their phone number. I mainly wanted to warn them about the fuel, besides finding out what to do. They gave me a number to call to submit a claim. Meanwhile my car was towed to Honda, where they dropped the fuel tank out to drain and flush it, cleaned fuel lines, serviced the injectors etc. Honda service kept a full drum of my contaminated fuel/water in case it was needed, as well as giving me a sample jar full. The repair came to over $2500, which was paid for by the fuel company, after I signed a proviso for their lawyers that I wouldn't sue them or go to A Current Affair etc. Good luck with your claim. BTW I always get and keep receipts after this episode.

    • +4

      Thank you, the servo owner has gotten back to me and advised he will take care of all the costs involved after writing the United headquarters in Victoria

  • Water ingress in Petrol tanks is a surprisingly common occurrence.
    Better quality servos as a part of their standard operating procedures check for tank water during manual dip readings, or will alarm with their automatic tank gauges.
    Water is routinely then pumped out of the tank.

    $2300 to fix a 11-year-old car worth about $2k realisable value isn't economical.

    • How does this happen, are the tanks not sealed except for filling point, and vents

    • -2

      realisable value isn't economical.

      What does that mean?

      I was about to add some water to my $500 rustbucket then fill up at the servo!

  • +4

    This is a good read on how tanks become contaminated, how to avoid it and what do do if it happens to you. Pretty scary stuff.

    • +1 good article. Sadly still just as relevant, 3 years on.

      Failure to maintain storage equipment, failure to observe loading protocols, lack of regular testing… there needs to be better consumer protection in this area, backed by mandatory inspection and enforcement.

  • -2

    Bass hill, enough said

  • +1

    Avoid United like the plague. Had a mate that had the same issue.. Diesel though. Let's just say the bill was much much much higher. He found a few others that had the same issue at United stations.

    He took them to court but would not divulge any info on the outcome.

    • Daymmmnnnn. Lesson learnt for sure

  • +1

    This has nothing to do with the brand. My incident was at Coles/Shell. The way they explained it was that normally something or the other breaks in the ground and water enters the tank. It could simply be a leak on the lid of the underground tank or a split in the hose that connects the tank to the browser. Water is heavy so it sinks to the bottom of the tank. The fuel we pump is sucked from the bottom so water goes in the car pretty much as soon as there is a breach. They find out pretty much straight away just like in your case your car could barely get 500M away from the servo before it broke down. The servo would stop selling fuel at that point and get the repairs done. All servos have an insurance that covers the cost of repairs to cars + fuel they hold + cost of repairs. Normally you would call the corporate of the brand you purchased from and they would organize the repairs. I don't know about no name independents.

  • -3

    Personally I would sell or write off the car once this has happened. The car never runs the same.

    • Whaaatttt? Nahhh. Been told from mechanic parts affected get replaced and will run normal

  • That sux that give the independent petrol business a bad rap, it was this reason why I never go back to independent owned petrol station. To OP I'm happy for you that it have sort it out.

Login or Join to leave a comment