BP gets 6.5K claims over bad gas; lawsuits filed

WHITING, Ind. (AP) -- BP says it has received more than 6,500 claims from customers needing repairs after fueling up with some of the 2.1 million gallons of gasoline recalled in three states over high levels of a polymer residue.

The oil giant says Indiana residents filed more than 4,000 of the claims through Monday, Illinois residents filed about 2,000 and the rest came from residents of Wisconsin and other states.

Spokesman Scott Dean says BP isn't commenting on two lawsuits seeking class-action status in U.S. District Court in Hammond. Each lead plaintiff in the cases filed Friday alleges the recalled gas caused repair bills of nearly $1,000 or more.

Dean says BP has already begun paying claims and expects payments to accelerate as it receives copies of customers' repair receipts.

BP is  recalling unleaded regular gasoline shipped from its Whiting fuel storage terminal Aug. 13-17. The company said Monday, August 20th it believes that fuel stored in a tank at the storage depot could cause hard starting, stalling and other drivability issues. That fuel was shipped to 20 gas stations in the Milwaukee area between Monday and Tuesday of last week.

BP asks any customer whose vehicle has experienced those problems since Aug. 13 to contact its customer hotline at 1-800-333-3991 or 1-800-599-9040.

BP says it's going through shipping records and contacting customers who may have loaded tanker trucks at the terminal during the affected period.

Auto mechanic Noel Latus was working Wednesday, August 22nd on a Jeep that has had trouble starting. Latus found out from the vehicle's owner he filled up his car this week at the BP gas station in Greenfield -- one of 20 stations in the Milwaukee area where the contaminated fuel was shipped.

Latus tested the vehicle and through a "gravity test" determined the vehicle did, in fact, have contaminated fuel. Latus said he noticed the difference between the regular gasoline and the contaminated batch.

"It's a real smooth, soft, like lotion feel to it. No evaporation to the fuel at all," Latus said.

To fix the problem, Latus had to drain the fuel system and clean the injectors and fuel rails.

"The good news is you did it fast, before you did any other damage," Latus said.

The problem cost about $300 for Latus to fix -- rather than thousands if the owner drove longer and caused more damage.

Drivers with vehicles that are having trouble starting, with extended crank times or a check engine light on should get their vehicles checked out. Drivers who filled up last Monday or Tuesday at a BP gas station may also want to see a mechanic and save their receipts.

CLICK HERE for additional information on the recall, and making a claim with BP.

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