Action 9: Car sold to local woman was rigged to hide dangerous problem

by: Todd Ulrich, Gerry Mendiburt Updated:

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An Orlando woman said she paid $18,000 for a used vehicle, then could not believe what Action 9 uncovered inside her dashboard. Someone rigged the warning lights to hide serious mechanical problems.

Auto repair expert Jay Zembower removed the instrument panel from a Jeep Rubicon. Inside Action 9 found a black, tarry substance someone used to cover up the warning lights.

“This vehicle was deliberately rigged?” asked consumer reporter Todd Ulrich.  “Absolutely. No question about it,” said Zembower.   

“To disguise a real problem?” asked Ulrich. 

“Absolutely,” replied Zembower.

Ulrich asked, “That could be costly and risky?”

“And fraudulent,” Zembower continued.

Jenny Schroer paid $18,000 for the used Jeep at Jeep Emporium in Merritt Island.

The first week, at night, she saw a very dim brake warning light. She drove to a new car dealer and was told, “That somebody's tampered with it. That something's wrong, and I didn't know about it,” said Schroer.

She couldn't prove who rigged it, but wanted Jeep Emporium to do something about it.

“I asked him to take the vehicle back, and he said it's not gonna happen,” said Schroer.

So Schroer called Action 9, and that's when our expert confirmed someone covered up failed anti-lock brakes that cost at least $1,500 to fix.

“It's truly an expensive repair,” said Zembower.

At the Jeep Emporium lot, Ulrich found owner Robert Johnson.

“That vehicle's been rigged to hide warning lights and real trouble,” said Ulrich.  

“I know about it,” said Johnson. 

“How did it happen?” asked Ulrich. 

“Done before we bought it,” replied Johnson. He said he complained to the company that sold him the Jeep.

“So you say you didn't do it, what can you do for Jenny now,” asked Ulrich. 

“We can't do anything for Jenny. We tried to work with her,” said Johnson.

Even though it was sold "as is," Johnson said he wants to help and will pay another shop to fix Schroer's brakes, since she was a victim, too.

“I never thought someone could do something like that,” said Jenny Schroer.

She is reviewing the dealer's offer, but she's also considering legal action.

In some cases, if you can prove hidden defects lowered the vehicles value, there's a chance to revoke the contract.