South Florida Man Says Bad Fuel Caused Long List of Damages to His Car

Charlie Winkler was billed for $1,772 in damages because of "contaminated" fuel he says he bought from a Midtown Miami Valero

By Justin Finch
|  Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013  |  Updated 8:52 AM EDT
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Charlie Winkler claims bad fuel caused severe damage to his car.

Charlie Winkler claims bad fuel caused severe damage to his car.

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Gas Prices Soar in South Florida

On the corner of Northeast 167th Street and 6th Avenue is a shocking sight: regular gas at $4.85 a gallon. Customers Duvalier Arceneaux and Joey Garzi talked about the impact to their wallet. Jesse Sanchez said he left without filling up when he saw the price. Gas prices vary a great deal in the area, but Ricki Goodman said she wouldn't drive for miles looking for a better deal.
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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.

Gas Prices Soar in South Florida

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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