BP America issued a recall Monday for unleaded regular gasoline from Northwest Indiana fuel distributors that was shipped from the company's Whiting fuel storage terminal between Aug. 13 and Friday.
A statement issued by the company indicates officials believe fuel stored in a tank at the storage depot could cause hard starting, stalling and other vehicle problems.
Consumers may have bought the fuel at BP-brand or other fuel retail outlets in the past seven days, according to the company. BP said customers experiencing the problems described should call its customer service hotline at (800) 333-3991.
Several people contacted The Times on Monday about problems their cars and trucks have experienced. Among the stations those consumers named were BP, Costco, Luke Oil, Meijer and Thorntons and in municipalities including Hammond, Highland, Lansing, Merrillville and Valparaiso.
"It's frustrating because gas is already expensive, and not being able to fill up around here, you don't know if the gas you're gonna get is safe or not now," said Nick West, of Crown Point.
Walter Kucharski, a structural engineer from St. John, said he filled up his 2003 GMC Envoy on Thursday at a station in Highland. Vehicle problems began to surface Friday, but Saturday was worse with the vehicle shaking uncontrollably for a few minutes and his check engine light coming on, he said.
When Kucharski contacted a service technician at Circle Buick GMC in Highland, he was told he was one of several people who reported the problem.
"It underscores just how fragile our transportation system is," Kucharski said.
Eric Mayro, of Crown Point, said he may be facing a $1,200 bill from a Merrillville automobile dealership to have his gas tank cleaned, fuel line purged and spark plugs replaced as a result of the gasoline issues.
Representatives from more than a half-dozen local automobile dealerships and independent automobile repair shops said they have received a deluge of service calls since last week related to the gasoline problem.
Bob Van Ramshorst, owner of Ridgeway Chevrolet in Lansing, said his dealership handled more than 60 calls Monday from customers dealing with vehicle problems from the gasoline used.
Lee Stahr, a shop foreman at Mike Anderson Chevrolet in Merrillville, said technicians have worked to dilute or drain the bad gas from tanks depending on the severity of the situation with each vehicle.
Jennifer Whitson, an employee of Shaffer Hyundai in Merrillville, said service representatives have done additional cleaning within vehicle fuel systems and added premium fuel in vehicles to help remedy problems.
In its statement, BP said it "is committed to fuel quality and guarantees every gallon of gasoline we sell."
"The company is going through its shipping records and contacting Northwest Indiana customers who may have loaded tanker trucks at the storage terminal during this period -- and is replacing the contaminated fuel with fresh product," the statement said.
"We would like to apologize for the inconvenience this has caused some of our customers."