Two separate Florida police departments have reported serious engine problems with more than 75 vehicles, and now testing has revealed it’s likely due to a contaminated fuel source, according to the My Palm Beach Post.
Last week, the West Palm Beach Police Department reported two of its Ford police intercepter vehicles suffered engine failure, leading to an investigation of the rest of its fleet and 11 more cars being pulled from service. Additionally, the Miami-Dade County Police Department also reported similar engine issues with 60 of the vehicles in its fleet.
Testing has revealed that the vehicles had been using gasoline contaminated with diesel fuel, causing the engines to experience the reported issues.
Here’s more on the issues from the My Palm Beach Post:
The West Palm engines are high-performance ones, made for police cars, and the cars are all two years old or newer. The issue, still being diagnosed, has to do with oil levels and corrosion in the Ford Taurus Cruisers and Explorer SUV’s, City Administrator Jeff Green said. Mechanics found oil was getting sucked into the engine air intake.
“The police vehicles affected have experienced engine problems, with the most common being running rough or engine blow-by on one or more cylinders,” he said.
Blow-by is when fuel leaks between a piston and cylinder wall, into the crankcase.
The two police departments get their fuel from two separate companies, which happen to be operated by a pair of brothers. One of the brothers, John Mansfield, claims the two companies operate completely separately from one another, and that he was unaware his brother’s company services the West Palm Beach Police Department.
It’s possible the two companies’ fuel supplies were contaminated at the storage tanks at the port, according to Mansfield via the Post.
“Miami Dade County Internal Services Department (MDC ISD) suspected the engine problems may have been from bad fuel. MDC ISD immediately shut down the two sites where vehicles were having issues until laboratory testing of the fuel could be conducted,” Galan said in an email.
“The subsequent testing resulted in the discovery of significant levels of diesel fuel within the unleaded fuel tanks at the two locations. MDC ISD has conducted testing on all unleaded fuel site tanks and found no other evidence of contaminated unleaded gasoline.”
John Mansfield, CEO of Indigo Energy of Gainesville, Ga., Miami-Dade’s supplier, said after being alerted by Miami-Dade, his company tested two fuel storage tanks the police use and, as the department did, the company found the gas tanks had diesel in them. “We pumped it out and things are back to normal,” he said Wednesday, adding that the company paid to dispose of the fuel.
City officials confirmed that five of West Palm Beach Police Department’s vehicles have already had their engines replaced at a cost of $6,000 per replacement, with 10 more replacements scheduled for next week. It’s no yet clear if any of the other vehicles effected will require engine replacements.
It’s not yet clear who will ultimately be deemed responsible for the contamination and coverage of the engine replacement costs. Ford confirmed to Jalopnik earlier this week that it was investigating the issues with the departments’ police vehicles.