A customer fuels his car at Circle K north in Maricopa. Photo by Jim Headley

A number of people who purchased gasoline at Circle K’s Smith-Enke Road and John Wayne Parkway location in Maricopa experienced serious damage to their vehicles.

Michelle Schaefer of Maricopa said she purchased gas at Circle K late Friday afternoon.

“I put in about $20 worth of gas in on the middle grade of pump six – the 89 (octane) grade,” Schaefer said. “I proceeded to go home. I live about two miles from Circle K. I had no issues. I parked the car and the next morning I went out to the vehicle and started having issues. It started kind of funny. It was sputtering, and it wouldn’t accelerate correctly. It was almost like I was running out of gas.”

Schaefer said she was going to work. It is six miles from her house to her office.

“I could barely make it. I was going 10 mph and couldn’t accelerate,” Schaefer said. “I was finally able to make it to the parking lot.”

She called for a tow truck and had her car taken to Camelback Volkswagen in Phoenix.

“The tow truck driver from Knight Towing came to my office on Saturday about 4:30 or 5 in the evening,” Schaefer said. “He asked, ‘Did you happen to get gas at Circle K?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I did, why do you ask?’ He said I was the 12th car he had towed in the last day (and) they all got gas at Circle K.”

The driver said he thought there was an issue with the gasoline from Circle K, according to Schaefer.

She made a post on Facebook about her issues with the gasoline, and others in the city reacted quickly as they were having gasoline problems too. More than a dozen reported their vehicles stopped.

“It was pretty apparent that there was a huge issue,” she said. “There were pictures of people’s gas that they had to have siphoned out of their tanks that looked like rainwater.”

Schaefer said her car was in the shop over the weekend at the dealership. She called them early Monday and advised them about the suspected gasoline problem.

Camelback Volkswagen wrote to Schaefer, “We have a sample of your fuel. It is more rainwater than fuel. You are definitely going to want to go after the gas station.”

Schaefer said repairing the car was estimated by Camelback to cost $1,303. The estimate covered draining the tank and lines, replacing the fuel pump, fuel filter and spark plugs, and labor.

Schaefer said she is the sole provider for her family of six. Without a car, she’s had to rely on taxis and Lyft drivers.

“I have experienced missed hours of work. It is impacting my life in a huge way and I’m very frustrated,” Schaefer said. “I really hope Circle K does the right thing and takes care of it. I don’t have that kind of money lying around.”

Schaefer said she called the Circle K Arizona Division offices and filed a complaint.

“They said on the phone they did have an issue with that store,” she said, adding they would take her information down and forwarded it to the correct person.

Schaefer said as of Monday afternoon she had yet to speak with “the correct person” with Circle K. She was told that someone would contact her within 24 hours.

“I’m hoping that because they are admitting that they have an issue, that they are going to take care of it. At this point, I really don’t know,” she said.

Donna Humphrey, spokesperson for Circle K’s Arizona Division offices in Phoenix, had this advice for affected customers.


  1. Based on the impact to innocent peoples lives they would be smart to handle these losses. Don’t be suprised if they deny these claims citing they has no notice of an issue, prior to this, and therefore this is a non-negligent incident.