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10 affected by premium, diesel gas station mix-up, officials say

A Bolla maintenance truck outside the Exxon gas

A Bolla maintenance truck outside the Exxon gas station on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square. Credit: Lisette Irizarry

At least 10 motorists have complained their vehicles were disabled after they unknowingly purchased diesel fuel at a Franklin Square gas station, county officials said.

Drivers who pulled up to the pumps for 93-octane, or premium, gasoline over the weekend at the Exxon on Hempstead Turnpike actually got diesel fuel, according to the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs.

The agency is monitoring the situation, said Gregory May, acting commissioner.

An additional eight people had come forward by Wednesday afternoon, explaining they had been victims of the mishap, officials said. At least two people had notified officials as of Tuesday.

Many of them found out something was wrong some time later, after their vehicles simply shut down or began to spew thick black smoke.

The issue can be corrected, but the cost of flushing and cleaning a car’s fuel system depends on the type of vehicle and the difficulty in taking out the gas tank, experts said.

According to an article posted on sears.com, the website of the department store that performs auto maintenance and repair, putting diesel in a gas engine will spark “sluggish performance” before the vehicle shuts down.

“Diesel fuel doesn’t need assistance to ignite, and it has a thicker consistency than gasoline,” said the article explaining mechanics of such a mixup. “As a result, diesel can jam a gas engine’s fuel injectors, filters and lines. Since a gas engine doesn’t give off the necessary heat and pressure for diesel to combust correctly, this can cause severe timing and cylinder issues.”

Nassau consumer affairs inspectors had been sent to the gas station to make sure the pumps had been properly cleaned and refilled. Affected consumers are encouraged to contact the agency at 516-571-2600.

Bolla Oil Corp. in Garden City, which operates the station, was cooperating with consumer affairs, agency spokesman Michael Martino said Wednesday.

Bolla officials could not be reached for comment.

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