Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A gas problem

There seems to be plenty of gasoline now in all the stations and we haven’t heard of any other problems so the gas crisis, at least in general, is over. For us, though, it isn’t yet. I'll explain.

Our car hasn’t been working right since last week. And it has been getting steadily worse. We finally took it in to have a mechanic take a look at it. I had changed the air filter and the spark plugs just to make sure about those, but after that it still bucked at low speeds. So we found a mechanic who worked on carburetors. I thought that was likely the problem.

He said that we needed to have our carburetor cleaned. That was fine with me so long as that fixed the problem. He thought it would, or at least fix most of it, but the real problem, he said, was that we had bought some bad gas. Bad gas? Where could we have gotten bad gas? We had bought it from a station just down the street from where this guy’s shop was. It was a nice, clean station, not some kind of back alley looking affair of a smelly mechanic’s shop with stacks of fifty gallon drums where the gas was siphoned out with a hose. You might get bad gas there but where we got it, that nice clean station? When we told him where we had gotten it, that convinced him. That station was selling bad gas, he said. And it wasn’t the only one that was or had been. According to this mechanic, over 90 percent of the cars that were coming in had problems caused by bad gas. All that gas wasn’t purchased at that same station. Others were in on it too.

A week before, I had read something about this in an article somewhere. The article said that people had bought bad gas because of the shortage and that their car had stalled after only a few miles. I may not have read it carefully enough but I had the impression that these people were getting their gas from other places—from some guy on the street with a truck-- not from legitimate, nice, clean filling stations. But it looks like I was wrong. We got had too.

It’s hard to know how they could have done it unless they just opened up the hatch on the tank at the station and poured in whatever it was they used to spike it. In a kind of short-term way of thinking you can see why they would do it. If you only got so much gas for the station and had to ration it car by car, cut in some cheaper stuff-- some really cheaper stuff--and let ‘em fill ‘er up. Anything over the ration amount sold is pure profit-- subtracting, of course, the stuff it was they used.

But for someone who would like to see companies concerned with building a brand—with their long-term interests--this is simply suicide where there is competition. And there is competition here in that market. We won’t go back to that station and anybody we talk with probably won’t go to it either. They are just cutting their throats, these people. It’s plain idiotic. But if you want to know the truth, that is the kind of thing you often see here, a “take it or leave it; makes little difference to me” kind of attitude.

The mechanic took out our carburetor, cleaned it and put it back in. Our car still bucks at low speeds but it doesn’t do it as much and I don’t have to keep my foot on the gas to keep it going at intersections, so that is something. The mechanic told us that we will have to just run through this tank and fill it up with better gas--TNK and Lukoil is the best we have been told. We’ll see. We have about three-quarters of a tank left before we can find out.

1 comment:

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