Gas snafu in Carcross creates hassle for drivers

A mix-up at the Carcross Grocery and Gas Bar resulted in headaches for drivers last weekend.

A mix-up at the Carcross Grocery and Gas Bar resulted in headaches for drivers last weekend.

Carcross Grocery and Gas Bar general manager Shane Valente says the driver for the fuel distributor, Pacesetter Petroleum, accidentally loaded diesel in the regular gas pump and vice versa.

By the time the gas station figured out what had happened, several customers had already filled up.

Darryl Tait was on his way to Skagway for July 4 celebrations when he stopped to gas up, with what he thought was regular gas. As he was accelerating up a hill outside of Carcross he noticed his truck was running poorly.

“I turned around, went to Carcross to get in cell range in case the truck breaks down,” said Tait.

Being stranded is a tricky situation for most people, but even more so for Tait. He became paraplegic after a sports accident and his truck is specially adapted for him with hand controls.

Borrowing somebody else’s car is just not an option for him.

He asked the gas station if there had been any issues with the gas, and was told it was fine.

“I hopped back in my truck and carried on to Whitehorse but my truck barely started,” he said.

“Once I got it started I thundered back to town, trying to make it back.”

He succeeded, but as soon as he parked his truck, it wouldn’t start again.

Diesel and regular fuel engines work in fundamentally different ways. Whereas a regular fuel engine relies on a spark to ignite the fuel in the cylinder, diesel engines only rely on the cylinder compressing air – bringing it to a high temperature – to ignite the fuel.

That’s why putting the wrong kind of fuel can wreak havoc in a car’s engine, said Brian Pratt at Yukon Tire Mechanical.

A regular gas-powered car with diesel will still run, he said, since both will be mixed. But it will create extensive damage to the engine if it runs for a long period of time.

“If you get diesel in a gas engine, and it mixes, it will take out the engine rings,” he said. “It will wreck the engine.”

The best thing to do is to stop the car and get it towed to a garage where the engine can be drained and flushed, he advised.

Tait was told that the fuel company will cover his repair costs.

“We had three people coming yesterday with some tow bills and some minor vehicle repairs,” confirmed Mark Leblanc, general manager at Pacesetter Petroleum.

Reimbursing affected customers is a “no-brainer,” Leblanc said.

“It was our driver’s error, a human error,” he said.

“We’re going to reimburse everyone who was affected.”

Such mistakes are rare, but he said, “We move a lot of fuel every year, there is always a potential for it to happen.”

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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