Just after Valentine's Day, Charlie Winkler says his Volkswagen Jetta cut off at the wrong place, and the wrong time.
"It happened on 395, so I was startled definitely," Winkler remembered.
Winkler said his car stopped and started several more times before making it to a Coral Gables repair shop, where he was due for a second surprise.
"After about five hours, they told me it was bad fuel," he said.
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Though the repair team took Winkler's car for two days of work, they gave him something else right away: the last ounces of fuel from his tank.
On Winkler's bill, that fuel is branded "contaminated," and it's blamed for a long list of damages, from run-down thrusters to broken spark plugs. The grand total came to $1,772.58.
"Whenever I heard that figure, my heart definitely dropped," Winkler said.
Winkler traced those repairs and the fuel he believes caused them to a gas fill-up he made at the Valero at Northeast 78th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
"I knew that I had ran my tank out before I purchased fuel the last time, and that was the previous place that I had purchased gas," he said.
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Winkler said he bought regular unleaded gas, not Valero's corn-based fuel alternative, which is designed only for cars able to process that gas mixture.
Valero's corporate office told NBC 6 the Midtown Miami Valero where Winkler purchased gas is independently owned. There were no managers were available to speak about Winkler's claims Tuesday, but workers inside the station said they haven't heard complaints about their fuel before.
The next step for Winkler is to get the fuel sample tested to see what it's made of, and if any of its makeup contributed to his car trouble.
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