Mike Schroader estimates 1,000 vehicles have been brought into his service bays over the past week, allegedly due to problems with gasoline from Flying J pumps.
"I've had 20 to 25 cars towed in every day for the past five to six days," said the service manager at Young Chevrolet. "It's frustrating. There's no way to schedule the repairs."The problem started during a routine maintenance shutdown at Flying J's Salt Lake refinery. Somehow, high-sulfur diesel was mixed with the no-lead gas and delivered to area stations, said Flying J President J. Phillip Adams.
He expects the mistake will cost the company between $500,000 and $1 million. The company is reimbursing motorists for the cost of a new fuel pump and will credit them with $10 worth of fuel.
Motorists are paying between $250 to $900 to get their fuel pumps replaced, depending on the make and model of the car.
Some motorists who are having trouble getting their cars fixed are renting cars and being reimbursed by Flying J for that expense.
Service managers say most customers have been surprisingly willing to pay the costs up front, knowing Flying J will make good on the cost.
The bad gas affects only vehicles that have electronic fuel pumps submerged in the gas tank. Mechanics say the sulfur coats the copper wiring and interrupts the electronic impulses.
Although General Motors vehicles were hit hardest, other makes such as Toyota, Isuzus and Mazdas have been affected.
Motorists realize they have a problem when they can't start the vehicles. Mechanics say the problem is obvious to the nose. The bad gas smells like rotten eggs.
All of the bad gas has been removed from the Flying J stations as well as independent and chain gas stations that use Flying J gas.
The bad gas is causing area mechanics to scramble for parts and time to fix the problems.
"It happened so suddenly we lost our inventory of fuel pumps," Schroader said. "The state is out of fuel pumps."