Toledo, Ohio — Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator corrosion warranties are being called into question because every warranty dictates a corroded aluminum panel must also be perforated.
The U.S. plaintiffs in the corrosion warranty lawsuit allege they overpaid for their Jeep because of paint problems that occurred due to premature corrsion of the aluminum body panels.
Stellantis—formerly Fiat-Chrysler, which owns the Jeep brand—began using aluminum in body panels and chassis to reduce the weight of the vehicles and improve fuel efficiency.
The OEM allegedly concealed what the lawsuit calls a “sham” corrosion extended warranty from consumers as the aluminum body panel, allegedly, must be perforated due to corrosion and rust.
“In its brochures, FCA boasted the 2018 Wrangler was ‘LIGHTER IN WEIGHT,’ noting that ‘[h]igh-strength, lightweight aluminum is used throughout the doors, hood, windshield frame, swing gate, and fenders to help Wrangler shed over 200 lbs.,” reads the Jeep Wrangler corrosion warranty lawsuit. “It’s strong, durable and aids efficiency.’”
The lawsuit also alleges Stellantis knew about the aluminum corrosion and paint problems a year ago as the automaker issued technical service bulletins to dealerships. The suit says the automaker issued TSB-31-001-19 in March 2018, entitled ‘Aluminum Body Panel Corrosion Repair’ for the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. The bulletin concerned “inspecting and, if necessary, removing corrosion and refinishing the suspect aluminum hood, door, or liftgate panel.”
The Wrangler TSB mentioned, “[a]luminum corrosion along the leading edge of hood or other exterior surface areas of the doors or liftgates,” and told technicians to “[r]emove [the] affected panel” and “[g]rind the corroded areas of the hood to bare aluminum using . . . a grinding disc” before sanding the panel and preparing it to be refinished.
TSB 31-001-18 was later revised to include the 2018-2019 Jeep Wrangler’s fenders. It also diagnosed the problem as “[a]luminum corrosion along the leading edge of hood or other exterior surface areas of the doors, fenders or liftgates.”
In November 2018, the TSB was again revised to call for replacement of the affected aluminum panel for “severe pitting that could not be removed with sandpaper [after] removing the initial blister paint from the panel surface with the grinding disc.”
The corrosion warranty lawsuit includes 2018 through 2021 Jeep Wrangler and 2020 through 2021 Jeep Gladiator vehicles, which allelegedly suffer corrosion problems causing the paint to bubble, flake, peel, rust and/or blister. The lawsuit was filed by Lousiana, U.S. plaintiff Mark Bordelon, who purchased a new 2018 Jeep Wrangler; Maine, U.S. plaintiff Antoine Louvat, who purchased a new 2020 Jeep Wrangler; and Florida, U.S. plaintiffs Domingo and Irma Orozco, who purchased a new 2019 Jeep Wrangler when they lived in New York.
The Jeeps initially came with corrosion warrantiesto provide coverage to “sheet metal panels,” for a period of 36 months with no mileage limits. The class action lawsuit also states warranty was provided for extended coverage of a period of 50 months for corrosion to an outer-body sheet metal panel, which the automaker defines as one that is “finish-painted and that someone can see while walking around the vehicle.”
According to the aluminum corrosion lawsuit, the corrosion warranty is flawed as it is “widely known throughout the automotive industry that aluminum body panels do not perforate from corrosion, and thus, [Stellantis] knew that customers who had purchased the Class Vehicles could never take advantage of the corrosion warranty to the extent perforation of the panel was a requirement to obtain coverage.” The plaintiffs allege this renders the extended warranty coverage for “an outer-body sheet metal panel” misleading and deceptive.
The plaintiffs also claim the technical service bulletin repairs don’t fix the corrosion problems and do anything for the diminution of value that occurs from repainting the Jeeps. And, according to the lawsuit, “painted newer Jeeps are worth less than Jeeps with the original paint.”