MIAMI LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) – Miami-Dade County mechanics knew they had a big problem when not just one or two police cars started having mechanical issues, but hundreds.
“They were feeling something odd with the car,” said Jose Galan of the Miami-Dade Internal Services Department.
Officers tell 7News their cars started shaking, some even breaking down.
Mechanics tested what was in their gas tanks and that’s when they realized someone had made a major mistake. Miami-Dade County leaders say their distributor put diesel fuel instead of unleaded gas in three pumping stations.
“Once you introduce diesel fuel to a vehicle that is designed for unleaded, it can have catastrophic effects on the engine,” Galan said.
A total of 217 Miami-Dade police cars were affected. Sixty-seven of those cars were so badly damaged, the engines were ruined.
Entire engines now have to be replaced, as the bad fuel in the fuel tank spread into the cylinders.
Almost all of the damaged cars are in the county’s Northwest District, where officers are now having to patrol in loaner cars.
However, Miami-Dade County is not the only area impacted. The same thing happened in West Palm Beach after a shipment of diesel fuel also made it into their gas pumps.
They’ve had to pull 49 cars off the street and rent vehicles for officers to drive around in.
It’s a very expensive mistake to correct and repairs will take months.
Repairs for the 67 Miami-Dade police cars needing new engines could cost $450,000.
West Palm Beach is expecting repairs for their 49 police cars to cost $300,000.
Galan said he does not believe the county will be on the hook for the $450,000. “We don’t believe so. Obviously, it is something we are working through the insurance carrier,” Galan added.
Mechanics have already made some of the repairs and have been able to get those police cruisers back on the streets.
7News was also informed that the Miami Gardens Police Department has also been impacted and had to pull some of their cars off the road.
Galan said they don’t know just yet whose fault it is and that it is still being investigated.
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