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Old 8th May 2018, 15:51   #1
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Default Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Note: This incident happened to a friend of mine- Anand. I am posting here on his behalf as he wanted to share his experience.

<Start of the experience as shared by him>
On 22nd April I was driving back from Thiruvananthapuram to Bengaluru via NH44/7, after a few days stay with my mother, along with my wife and daughters. I had barely entered NH44 when I stopped to fill petrol at SAV Petrol Pump, Panakudi, which is a HPCL pump, as it appeared as a decently maintained pump. Ever since I bought my new Corolla Altis Petrol Auto, I have been filling only Shell V Power except during long drives on NH when I stop at decent looking pumps or CoCo pumps as Shell isn’t available anywhere around.

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2 Kms after filling Power petrol and starting to drive the engine started jittering and stopped. It then failed to start. This being 7:45 AM on a Sunday morning, Toyota Highway assist recommended towing the vehicle to Annamalais Toyota at Tirunelveli which was 46 kms away and provided me a taxi pick up, both at their cost, which was a great gesture and feature they offered. By 11 am we were at Annamalais Toyota which was closed on Sunday but they did accept the car for repair for the next day.

I took a decent hotel nearby for overnight stay, and next day morning promptly reached Annamalais Toyota at 8am. Their team analyzed the issue using a computer console which quickly showed that it was a Cylinder misfire. After 10 more minutes they confirmed after opening the fuel line that it was presence of water in Petrol (showed it to me) and recommended draining the whole tank (it was a full tank of Power Petrol) and change of fuel filter. I was till then suspecting the issue as some Car electrical system problem but was shocked to hear about the fuel adulteration issue. They drained the whole tank out by 12 noon and cleaned the tank and fuel filter as they didn’t have new fuel filter in stock. Below is the snap of the petrol drained out (bottom drains), which Annamalias confirmed as having large percentage of water/particulate matter. Not a very clear picture unfortunately.

Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)-corollapetroladulteration.png
Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)-edc3c3d60ba1474fb47fa4cd450abdb0.jpeg

Also attaching Annamalais Toyota Invoice which calls out the Issue as Adulteration of Petrol

Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)-corollaservicecenterinvoice.png

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 9th May 2018 at 11:07.
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Old 8th May 2018, 15:53   #2
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Default Re: Incident of Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk-Panamkudi-Issues and inconvenience caused(Corolla Alt

It was already 3pm when we got to drive back and then reached Bangalore around 1am, so next day was tired to follow up on the complaint. On Wednesday morning promptly raised a complaint with HPCL and to my surprise the very next day morning received a call from not HPCL but the pump owner requesting me to withdraw the complaint and offering me any amount to settle the matter. I didnít agree to the offer and wanted to hear from HPCL, so the next day HPCL sales manager called me and repeated the offer to settle by accepting money.

He went on to acknowledge that water would typically enter the petrol while getting transported in trucks and also due to tank seepages but promised that there was no intentional adulteration. He also went on to say that the pump in question is the largest grosser for HPCL in 6 of the TN south districts and is fully automated and managed by HPCL directly. Moreover he also mentioned that there were no complaints ever against this pump on that day or any day in and around it, so paying compensation of any amount is the only way out as he wonít be able to take any action against the pump. He too repeated the offer for any amount that I ask for.

I wasnít comfortable in settling the matter by accepting money or making profits from the incident, so agreed to take just the fuel cost + the tank cleaning charges amounting to Rs 6000 only and not the whole damage cost (fuel filter change which is still pending but which I would be doing soon + food/accommodation cost at Tirunelveli + other damages, Toyota at one point also mentioned that my warranty may be NULL and void because of using adulterated petrol and not sure if there are damages beyond the fuel system). I also requested HPCL to provide me in their letter head the investigation details as was explained to me, confirming how water entered the petrol and why they donít want to take action even after Toyota confirming that it was adulteration issue. They went on to provide a documented investigation report but the report was different from the verbal explanations provided to me, which explains that HPCL too is riding the volumes/revenue from this pump and isnít in any mood to help the customer and is trying to cover up the issue.

Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)-corollahpclresponse.png

I am posting this incident in case it benefits other fellow travelers, so that they could exercise their judgement when using HPCL pumps in and around South Tamil Nadu, which all may have the same issue. It may not impact all cars as all cars not equally sensitive to the presence of water, but at least folks with advanced electric sensors/sensitive cars need to think twice. I hope itís just a south Tamil Nadu HPCL issue.

<End of Experience as shared by him>

Couple of things that stood out for me.
  • HPCL calling and offering 'any amount' to settle seemed a little strange.
  • How come only this car got impacted. Or could be that many others got impacted and if it was escalated, was handled in the same way.
  • HPCL's documented response that they checked the compliant book does not really make sense. The issue even if seen by other vehicles, would be once they move away some distance from the pump. I don't think anyone is going to go back and enter a complaint.

Last edited by Rajeevraj : 8th May 2018 at 19:51.
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Old 10th May 2018, 08:34   #3
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

Here's an old related thread.
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Old 10th May 2018, 09:15   #4
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

One, I agree with the car owner's stance of not exchanging money for favors, but he should claim a reasonable amount enough to cover current damages and potential issues (estimated). The 'any amount' cash settlement offer by both dealer/OMC and then dismissing the complaint officially as without merit indicates this wasn't accidental contamination.

Two, why do all manufacturers threaten voiding warranty for fuel adulteration issues? Refusing coverage for intentional tampering with the car is understandable, but fuel adulteration is neither intentional not easily detectable at source. What is a user supposed to do? Perform quality checks while refueling every single time?
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Old 10th May 2018, 09:25   #5
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

This seems to point to shoddy maintenance by the pump owner not a case of adulteration since that is normally done with kerosene.

Water accumulation in underground petrol tanks isn't new, it can happen due to a variety of reasons starting with moisture condensation and leakages during the wet season/monsoons. The only solution is regular underground tank cleaning by the owner/operator of the fuel pump.

The same condensation can occur in a car's fuel tank and can lead to problems with the fuel pump (see leoshashi's M800 long term thread), metal fuel tank rusting, engine running problems among other things. To minimise condensation it's best to keep the tank at full. Lesser the space for air and atmospheric moisture in the tank the better it is. This is best followed in areas with high humidity.

As a gesture of goodwill HPCL should offer to reimburse the owner of the car for the repairs.
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Old 10th May 2018, 10:29   #6
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

I generally am wary of filling up premium petrol (speed/power/xtra premium) in remote locations for this very reason. Once we were travelling to Bandhavgarh and I had to refuel at an IOCL outlet located in a small town. The reason I stopped there was because the outlet had xtra premium availability. However, pump attendant advised me to go for regular petrol since there is water contamination in the xtra premium tank.

This kind of made sense for me since small towns would see less sales of premium petrol than normal one leading to neglect for upkeep and maintenance. All said and done, out on the highway, if there are no Reliance or Shell outlets, whole trip becomes a hunt for good quality fuel. I have spent more trip planning time looking for Reliance/Shell/PSU COCO than anything else.
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Old 10th May 2018, 11:07   #7
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

So what kind of precautions must one take to eliminate the possibility of water in petrol?
e.g. not filling petrol while truck tanker fills the bunk (where the water settled may swirl into the feed lines).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
Two, why do all manufacturers threaten voiding warranty for fuel adulteration issues? Refusing coverage for intentional tampering with the car is understandable, but fuel adulteration is neither intentional not easily detectable at source. What is a user supposed to do? Perform quality checks while refueling every single time?
You know how Indians mix kerosene with petrol in order to reduce their running costs?
Or kerosene with diesel.
How will your proposed wording help the manufacturers who would be flooded with issues due to usage of improper fuel?

Last edited by alpha1 : 10th May 2018 at 11:11.
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Old 10th May 2018, 11:30   #8
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Default Added para space for better reading

I had the same problem as well with an HPCL outlet with my 2011 polo at Ambalpady in Udupi there are numerous videos on YouTube as well of people getting cheated by HPCL with sub standard fuel quality.

I had filled fuel from this very same pump once before and the car ran absolutely fine so for the next fill up I decided to go back and put in some power petrol.
This time they decided to use a different nozzle from the one they used last time even though it had fuel in it as a locally registered i20 came in after me and filled up with that nozzle.
I guess they mainly target cars that aren't from the state?

Since my car and the OPs car both weren't registered to the same state from where the fuel was put In. Within a kilometre of running the car cut-out completely and refused to start back up.
There were no warning lights on the dashboard or anything it just refused to start. I was nothing but lucky that the car cut out in the city and not on the highway.
The car had to be abandoned over night since it was really late and no one could tow it. The next day when a VW technician came in he disconnected a fuel line and a water like substance started pouring out it was completely odourless unlike petrol and the technician told me that it wouldn't catch on fire either.

The car had to be towed close to 60kms to VW mangalore where upon inspection of the tank they found almost 13 litres of water in the tank (almost all of the 1000rs petrol I had put in).
After draining the entire fuel tank, fuel lines and replacing 4 spark plugs the car luckily fired back to life.

The whole ordeal including the towing charges cost me nearly 8000 rupees.
For the first time ever in a complete shock move VW really came through for me and made sure that the car was handled properly. They arranged for the towing of the vehicle on a Saturday and by Monday evening it was ready for me to collect (hats off to Mr Prabhu & Mr Vishwas of VW mangalore) .

This was a really testing time for me as would be for any petrolhead who loves his car & it's nothing but sad that a car that had never once broken down in the past 7 years was stranded for no fault of hers.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 10th May 2018 at 11:43.
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Old 10th May 2018, 11:46   #9
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Come on guys this is NOT about adulteration of fuel but the presence of water in the fuel. Two different things! Nobody adulterates petrol with water.
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Old 10th May 2018, 14:59   #10
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
  • HPCL calling and offering 'any amount' to settle seemed a little strange.
  • How come only this car got impacted. Or could be that many others got impacted and if it was escalated, was handled in the same way.
  • HPCL's documented response that they checked the compliant book does not really make sense. The issue even if seen by other vehicles, would be once they move away some distance from the pump. I don't think anyone is going to go back and enter a complaint.
Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
This seems to point to shoddy maintenance by the pump owner not a case of adulteration since that is normally done with kerosene.

Water accumulation in underground petrol tanks isn't new, it can happen due to a variety of reasons starting with moisture condensation and leakages during the wet season/monsoons.

As a gesture of goodwill HPCL should offer to reimburse the owner of the car for the repairs.
+1 and also as confirmed by OP, compensation was paid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
Come on guys this is NOT about adulteration of fuel but the presence of water in the fuel. Two different things! Nobody adulterates petrol with water.
The written reply from HPCL though appears generic in nature is however the SOP while dealing with complaints of water present in fuel. OP's friend as a customer showed great maturity since one usually expects the customer to say words like "Court" "sue" "drag" etc. etc. Being part of the industry and specially service industry where consumer is the king, Fortunately or unfortunately, these days we are advised to close the complaint at whatever cost no matter if you are right or wrong.

OP is right in saying that not many customers go back to the outlet and lodge complaint however in this day and age of technology, complaints can be raised by IVRS and through online portal. I am not in anyway defending the Petrol Pump Owner however this does seems like a case of impurities in the customer's cars reaching a tipping point. Please do remember one of the jobs of fuel filter is to deal with impurities in fuel including water.

And as rightly pointed out by R2D2, water is the last thing one will adulterate fuel with.

Request readers to go through this post as well

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ml#post3570433

PS: i do not work for HPCL or have any association with the petrol pump in question.
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Old 10th May 2018, 15:33   #11
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
....
You know how Indians mix kerosene with petrol in order to reduce their running costs?
Or kerosene with diesel.
Broad-brushing a bit there, aren't we?

Quote:
How will your proposed wording help the manufacturers who would be flooded with issues due to usage of improper fuel?
I'm not advocating blanket warranty coverage, it's always subject to customer meeting certain T&C, which manufacturers in India play fast and loose with anyway. My question is more along the lines why manufacturers get a pass on voiding warranty for factors outside their control, but customers aren't accorded similar protection?

I'm not proposing anything, I'm asking a question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
Come on guys this is NOT about adulteration of fuel but the presence of water in the fuel. Two different things! Nobody adulterates petrol with water.
Two different things in principle, absolutely, but arguably same end result for end customer: engine/fuel system damage needing out of pocket repairs due to contaminated/adulterated fuel he had no control over, and car manufacturer has no liability for.

We can argue semantics all we want, but they're useless to a customer paying for someone else's fault, whether done out of malice (adulteration) or ignorance (contamination due to shoddy equipment maintenance).

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 10th May 2018 at 15:52.
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Old 10th May 2018, 15:59   #12
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
Two different things in principle, absolutely, but arguably same end result for end customer: engine/fuel system damage needing out of pocket repairs due of contaminated/adulterated fuel he had no control over, and car manufacturer has no liability for.
We the consumers have zero control over the fuel we buy and rely on owners of the petrol station and/or the Principal i.e. the oil companies to provide us with the quality and quantity of fuel we are being charged for. Unless of course one has privately owned petrol dispensers as some $$ billionaires in Pune reputedly do for their uber exotic car collection.

It's caveat emptor all the way. There's always an inherent risk in buying from any petrol station and in my experience the ones on the highway are the real dicey ones. The only thing we can do is to buy from outlets that are reputed to be honest. Or, use a tool like that water & fuel filter/separator funnel to give us that much extra confidence.

Given a choice between water and kerosene mixed with petrol I prefer the latter since it will at least burn albeit incompletely and mess up the plugs, injectors, filters in the process. Water on the other hand is plain destructive should it ever reach the injection system or the cylinders.
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Old 10th May 2018, 16:32   #13
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
We the consumers have zero control over the fuel we buy and rely on owners of the petrol station and/or the Principal i.e. the oil companies to provide us with the quality and quantity of fuel we are being charged for.....
I don't dispute the fact, I dispute the lack of accountability in our fuel supply chain.

Consider the responses in this instance.

User complains to OMC, gets a call from the dealer instead to withdraw the complaint and name his price. The OMC follows up with a generic response dismissing his complaint as without merit, even though the user has supplied evidence of fuel contamination received from the service center.

Neither party is providing customer service, one's trying to intimidate him and the other dismissing him outright. Who takes accountability for fuel quality?
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Old 10th May 2018, 16:58   #14
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Default re: Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk, Panakudi. Issues & inconvenience (Corolla Altis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
Neither party is providing customer service, one's trying to intimidate him and the other dismissing him outright. Who takes accountability for fuel quality?
Technically the oil company and the petrol station are liable for deficiencies in their product and service.

But there's no doubt he's being given the run around by 2 Govt. or partially Govt. owned organisations. Given the way these Govt. OMCs hand out petrol station licenses (and premises) to people with political connections I am not surprised there's an been a serious attempt to hush the whole thing up.

I think the the options are:

a) Take this to the consumer court with the OP's friend deciding if it is worth the time and effort for a bill of Rs 1133 for labour + filter from TKM's ASC and the cost of a tankful of fuel ~ Rs 4500 for 55 litres @ ~Rs 80/litre.

b) Escalate this up the chain in HPCL plus use social media primarily HPCL's FB page and Twitter to exert pressure and caution other vehicle owners to not patronise that particular fuelling station.

I think it's more about the principle than the money here. HPCL and their dealer should be made to feel the heat.
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Old 11th May 2018, 09:36   #15
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Default Re: Incident of Water in Petrol from HPCL Bunk-Panamkudi-Issues and inconvenience caused(Corolla Alt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
HPCL calling and offering 'any amount' to settle seemed a little strange.
Well; this is what works best with most people. Pay them some money and the matter is silenced. Quite like the first thing you hear when there is train crash. 5lacs to the next of kin. Now keep your mouth shut and deal with your loss. We are not going to bother investigating the matter.

The fact that they are wiling to negotiate a number with you so easily is almost giving away the fact that HPCL know about it but are also not willing to do anything about it. Pathetic. I wish this is brought out in the open.

More than this exchange of money, why don't these companies ever think of the inconvenience caused to a person. All of this is totally unnecessary.

Last edited by sandeepmohan : 11th May 2018 at 09:39.
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