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Chicago Heights Family Still Fighting With BP Over Bad Gas

The Longo family's Volvo suffered $5,000 in engine damage in August 2012. They had received contaminated fuel from a BP gas station, but BP has declined to pay all of the damages, stating the car's timing belt was significantly overdue for replacement even before the car received any tainted fuel. (Credit: CBS)

The Longo family’s Volvo suffered $5,000 in engine damage in August 2012. They had received contaminated fuel from a BP gas station, but BP has declined to pay all of the damages, stating the car’s timing belt was significantly overdue for replacement even before the car received any tainted fuel. (Credit: CBS)

Brad Edwards Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. He...
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CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) – A suburban family has been trying to get help from BP, after their car was crippled this summer, in the wake of a fuel contamination problem at their refinery in Whiting, Ind.

This summer, BP recalled an estimated 4.7 million gallons of gasoline, due to high levels of a polymer residue, which is difficult to burn in automobile engines.

More than 7,900 car owners filed damage claims against BP due to the contaminated fuel. Many motorists who received the contaminated fuel ended up having their cars stall on them, or had hard-starting issues that forced them to take their cars to the shop for repairs.

Although the problem seemed to have long since passed, CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports one family saw their car crippled after getting BP gas that was contaminated, but they remained at a standstill with the company over the damages.

Christine Longo, of Chicago Heights, said she’s been “frustrated enough to send a letter that I copied everybody on. … I copied [Illinois Attorney General] Lisa Madigan’s office.”

Longo has more than $5,000 in bills for a new engine, and rental car expenses, but BP is willing to pay only a fraction of that cost, despite proof she bought some of the bad gas.

She’s been without her own car since Aug. 28, about a week after the BP recall started.

Their Volvo has been sitting at a Schererville auto shop, due to a timing belt failure.

BP said it’s willing to pay for $592 in repairs, well shy of what it will take to get the car running again.

“Based on what we know, the timing belt broke quite a time after the fuel was purchased and the belt was significantly overdue for replacement as part of routine vehicle maintenance,” BP spokesman Scott Dean said in a written statement.

However, a mechanic told Longo the timing belt break was “premature.”

“They’re saying only part of the damage to our car is from the bad gas, and I just think they can’t say that. I think they don’t know. They haven’t talked to us, they have never gone out and inspected the car, they have never talked to the first service guys that took care of the car at first, they never talked to the mechanic. … They’ve had no direct contact with the situation.”

BP said they’re willing to listen to other evidence, so it’s not a closed case. The Longo family said they’ve tried, and will keep trying, to prove BP should pay more for the repairs.

“I wonder if there’s more people out there like us, who are still fighting to get their claim taken care of,” she said.