By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As you get ready to fill up your vehicle and head out for the holiday weekend, we have a warning for you. There’s been an increase of drivers who’ve found water in their gas and the weather is largely to blame.

Investigators with office under the Department of Commerce routinely look for water inside underground gas tanks.

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“What I’m doing is I’m checking to make sure there isn’t any water in the fuel itself,” Weights and Measures investigator Brett Willhite said. “I’ll actually put this down into the tank, if there’s water in the fuel it will come back pink, if it doesn’t detect water it will remain white.”

Customers alert them to a problem, too. Director Greg VanderPlaats says driver complaints are up this year. Our weather is to blame.

“This year has been a particularly bad weather year — early frost, lots of snow, and this spring lots of fast-melting and rain — and so there are lots of places that water can get in a tank,” VanderPlaats said.

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If seals are cracked or broken, water can find its way in. Filling up with water mixed in can cause major problems. The engine needs fuel to run.

“Usually it will miss and sputter and potentially stop running,” VanderPlaats said.

A driver shared a picture of water found in his tank a few months ago. It took about a week to repair and cost $2,000. The driver said the gas station did reimburse him for the repairs. It’s important to keep your receipt in case of a problem, to show where you filled up.

“As soon you notice a problem with your car you should stop driving and get it to the mechanic, get your tank pumped out and make sure the problems are taken care of before you’re driving again,” VanderPlaats said.

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Weights and Measures, under the Department of Commerce, investigates complaints.  The office also offers guidance for business owners to prevent water entry.

Jennifer Mayerle