CHOICE membership

Service Station Fuel Supply

On Saturday 3 July I experienced a totally unexpected problem.

My car had not been driven for about three weeks.

After a short drive out of Ashfield into Campsie the trip back on Canterbury Rd turned into an ordeal at the intersection with Aldi St, as attempts to move from the lights stalled the engine. After five attempts to then start the engine only to stall on throttle, two top “samaritans” helped push the car off Canterbury Road onto Aldi St. NRMA road service attended and was unsure of the cause. The car had not had any hint of a problem till then and had been serviced by a competent and trustworthy mechanic. He was aware that some petrol stations had water contamination.

One possibility raised by me and then road service was water in the fuel, because three weeks ago (when last driven) the tank was topped up. Apparently, from the road service attendee experience, there were unfortunate other instances of motorists stuck with water-in-the-fuel breakdowns of recent past. In this case, there was still uncertainty as to the cause, however the symptoms could be water-in-the fuel.

The car, after left to idle for a protracted period on the Aldi St, was driven home. At this stage, I’ve put a small amount of a water dispersant fuel additive into the fuel tank. I intend on siphoning the bottom of the fuel tank and to see what comes up.

The accounts from Choice of water, and other contaminants, needs urgent action from NSW government regulatory authorities.

Whatever my particular event, there are petrol stations in NSW with contaminated fuel, and it has to stop. I could hardly believe the dire problems read from the Choice webset on much worse crook fuel consequences experienced by other motorists. Time for Choice.

Kevin Kasch,

Choice member


Welcome to the Community @kdkasch

Yes contaminated fuel raises issues for many motorists. Thankfully you are in an area where the consequences are somewhat better than when it occurs kilometres from any service. This is not making light of your situation but raising the very real risk of even loss of life if it happens at the worst possible time eg stalling in the intersection with on-coming traffic.

Have you considered reporting your experience to your local paper? You may not be the only one such that you might be able to track down an offending service station. Another thought could be a fuel filter that is coming to the end of it’s days, I have had that situation and after a rest period we could travel a bit further until not enough fuel got to the engine to continue travel, rest again then carry on. Replacement of the filter resolved the issue quickly. Water in fuel I have often found to be a drain and fill the only answer, once requiring removal of the tank to remove the water.


Choice has covered contaminated fuel in the past:

In relation to water in a car fuel tank, it could be from a number of sources including where it is sourced (inc. shipping, bulk storage and transport), from incursion into fuel station tanks (either directly or through condensation) or from the car fuel tank (condensation or incursion from caps not sealing properly or not closed properly).

As it has been wetter and possibly more humid this summer and autumn, any water could be from any of the above sources.

While it is easy to point the finger at one particular source of the water, one can only point the finger when other sources can be ruled out.


We have recurring spates of locally reported fuel problems attributed to certain petrol stations. Sometimes one need not rule out ‘everything else’ when the problem can be identified straight away from community groups or posts or whatever information leads one to a probable source.

If one suspects bad fuel has been delivered, and it is verified by a mechanic, one can go to the station, receipts in hand; evidence that no other fuel has been purchased in recent times, and a claim is far more likely to be successful, especially if others are in the same queue with you. It is always good to buy from a single station and to keep receipts for a while, just in case.


It’s also important if there is a possibility or suspicion that your vehicle has a fuel problem, problem with the fuel to not leave it as is. A minor problem can quickly escalate to a very expensive remedy. The longer the time between a major failure and the supposed source, the greater the doubt as to who is most at fault.