SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Mike Jefferis was stunned when he saw excessive rust on the undercarriage of the brand new Jeep he’d just helped his daughter buy from a local dealership.
His trouble started on the way home from the dealership.
“It felt as if there was a problem with the brakes,” Jefferis said.
He took the Jeep back to the dealership, Suncoast Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, where the service technician noted “excessive rust” on all four rotors on the Jeep and replaced them.
Jefferis said when he got back home from the dealership, he read the paperwork closely and noticed that the technician noted three times that there was excessive rust found. Jefferis said he was concerned and questioned how a Jeep with just 199 miles had rust.
He crawled under the bottom of the Jeep himself and took pictures of rust and corrosion in multiple places and then took the Jeep back the dealership for further review.
“It’s mind-boggling,” he said. “The rust is to the point where it’s actually deforming metal. You can see corrosion and you see bolts that would be a nightmare to remove.”
The dealership referred the matter to Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis. After Jefferis says he was offered only a couple of car payments for his trouble and was told to finish his four-year-lease, he knew he’d Better Call Behnken.
Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken reached out to the dealership owner and was told he wasn’t sure how the Jeep accumulated so much rust and that this is between Jefferis and the parent company.
Behnken sent the pictures and paperwork to decision makers at Stellantis. Days later, Stellantis responded with this statement:
“This vehicle’s condition was an anomaly. We recently celebrated delivery of the five-millionth Jeep Wrangler. The current model benefits from an anti-corrosion coating that is 10 percent thicker than was used on the previous-generation vehicle. Further, Stellantis urges its dealers to adhere to a strict pre-delivery inspection protocol. We regret this valued customer’s experience and are pleased to have reached a satisfactory resolution.“
A spokesman says they are buying back the jeep, giving Jefferis a discount on another one and investigating how this happened.
A Stellantis spokesman says they are looking into the routing of delivery to help determine what happened.
Vehicle identification reports indicate the Jeep arrived at a Ft. Myers dealership in late December 2022. The Seminole dealership bought it a few weeks later, in January.
Stellantis says the vehicle will be examined to determine what happened and if a systemic issue is discovered, that issue will be addressed. It’s unclear whether the Jeep will be repaired and sold as used or scrapped.