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Professionalism Trumps Stupid

This is a tale of stupidity and frustration, followed by eventual success, thanks to a few heroes of the automotive service industry.

My shop recently finished an extensive restoration of a 1968 Mopar B-Body. The car was then due to be delivered to its owner in New Jersey. Because of a recent injury, I was unable to make the trip, so a good friend offered to make the trek for me. He left our Ohio shop at midnight on a Sunday and arrived at the owner’s house around 9 a.m. Monday, driving my 2002 Ford F-350 dually crew cab 7.3L turbo diesel truck and pulling my new open car trailer.

After unloading the car and a slew of old parts, my buddy headed back, shortly thereafter stopping at a gas station (I won’t use the words “service station” here for reasons you’ll agree with shortly) in Palmyra, N.J., for a fresh load of diesel fuel. That’s where things turned ugly.

Apparently, New Jersey has no self-serve stations. The attendant must pump the fuel for you (you’re not allowed to touch the pump). After telling the “attendant” to fill the tank with diesel, my buddy noticed a whiff of gas. He quickly exited the truck and discovered that the guy was pumping gasoline into the tank.

After a heated discussion (for the sake of propriety we’ll leave out the actual language that spewed from my friend’s mouth), the attendant tossed his arms in the air and basically said, “No can fix.”

So here’s my buddy, stranded with a truck and trailer, with no help from the “experts” at the gas station. Luckily, almost directly across the road, was a TCR Automotive Parts Warehouse and Service Center. My friend locked up the truck, and precariously made his way across a multi-lane busy highway in search of help, dodging motorists who delighted in exceeding the posted speed, and trying their best to treat my buddy like a little chrome ball in a pinball machine.

Anyone who knows anything about diesel engines is fully aware that gasoline can wreak havoc. Cylinder temperatures can escalate dramatically, potentially melting pistons. The lack of lubricity in gasoline also can ruin the (expensive) injector system, etc. In short, it ain’t pretty. When you’re dealing with a late model diesel, we all know that repairs can be rather expensive.

After initially being told that the shop was backed up and couldn’t take the truck that day, TCR’s service manager, Scott Craig, stepped up to the plate and saw to it that the job was handled, empathizing with a person from out of state who faced an emergency. The TCR crew drained the tank, flushed the fuel system, replaced the fuel filter and added a dose of diesel fuel lubricant, staying late to finish the job. My buddy paid the bill and was on his way (luckily remembering to connect my trailer).

The attendant who caused the problem pleaded ignorance (if he was truthful, he should have pleaded downright stupid). Professionals in the automotive service industry saved the day by going the extra mile.

Quality, service-minded shops rarely receive credit for their efforts. I wanted to make sure that these guys did get the pat on the back that they so well deserved. TCR Automotive Warehouse in Palmyra, N.J. — they deserve a medal.

So, if you find yourself in New Jersey, driving a diesel-powered vehicle, cross your fingers that you can make it out of the state until you find another refueling spot.

Let me make one thing very clear: I have nothing against the state of New Jersey, but as far as fuel is concerned, make sure that you already have enough to get in and get out. If you find yourself the victim of such downright incompetence as my friend faced at that fuel station, at least you’ll know that professional automotive technicians such as TCR do exist in that golden state.

Yes, I did contact the major oil company that owns the gas station. A representative told me that the station owner would contact me.

To date, not a word. Am I surprised? No.   ●

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