He sold his “lemon,” but he still wants Chrysler to pay his damages

After purchasing a defective new car and having to trade it in at a loss, Edward Keucher just wanted fair compensation. He lost $6,000 on the trade and wants Chrysler to reimburse him, but that isn’t going to happen — and unfortunately, we can’t help.

Keucher’s case is a good lesson in why you should always act quickly if you are seeking compensation, and keep the evidence if you want to make a claim. Here’s why.

When Keucher first purchased his Dodge Journey, he says the next day he noticed a defect with the car windows. It had “ping pong ball” spotting, which he tells us is a defect in glass polarization, so he took it back to the dealer.

Keucher describes what happened: “I went back to the dealer and they got Chrysler involved. Chrysler was going to replace the vehicle.” And then they weren’t. No, of course not. Why try to do the right thing when you can do the cheap thing?

“But then they decided to attempt to replace the auto glass,” Keucher explains. That didn’t work, and in fact it made it worse: Now the windows squeaked and stuck. So Keucher again asked Chrysler to replace the vehicle. The answer? You guessed it. Another repair.

Does replacing the glass for a second time make sense? Well, it does if you believe that continuing to do the same thing will get a different result.

This time Keucher took the vehicle to another dealer for the repair. When he got it back, not only did the windows still squeak and get stuck, but this time there was body damage to both rear doors from the repair!

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Surely this time Chrysler would replace the vehicle? Keucher explains, “I again demanded vehicle replacement. Chrysler declined and also stated they were done working on the windows after only two repair attempts.”

Wow! It seems if you are a company trying to solve the customer’s problems, your motto shouldn’t be “if at first you don’t succeed, give up.”

Keucher went on to explain that Chrysler “stated the windows worked to ‘spec.’ I am an auto service professional with 25 years’ experience, and the windows were not working properly mechanically.” Given that level of experience, he would know. There is also that little matter of body damage to the vehicle, caused by the repair.

But the story doesn’t end there. When Keucher posted on our forum, our advocates asked him if he had tried using Lemon Laws — he had, and his response will surprise you.

Before we come to that, here’s an explanation of Lemon Laws for those readers who aren’t familiar with them. Lemon Laws are designed to protect consumers against purchasing a seriously flawed vehicle (a “lemon”). The consumer has to allow the dealer a number of attempts to repair the flaws, after which the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement. Now that sounds like a good piece of consumer law. Or so you would think.

Here is Keucher’s response to our advocates’ questions:

“I tried to get lemon law lawyers and Illinois Attorney General’s Office involved but cases were dismissed since only two repair attempts were made.”


Sadly, Keucher was given the correct information. Lemon laws only apply after a certain number of repair attempts, and in Illinois, that is four. Allowing a number of repair attempts before requiring the cost of a big-ticket item to be refunded makes sense; after all, the cost of replacement will get passed on to consumers by way of increased prices (well, it certainly won’t come from profits). But allowing a company to avoid the law by simply refusing to do any more repairs means the law has failed.

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This might be an example of how a well-intentioned piece of legislation can be undone by bad drafting — or maybe it was deliberate. I know it doesn’t help consumers, and it certainly did not help Keucher. So he gave in and traded in the vehicle.

He then contacted us to ask for our advocates’ help. He said, “I traded in this 2014 Dodge Journey with 170 miles on the odometer after three months of non-use and took a $6,000 loss on the trade-in for a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan.”

Yes, you read this right: A 2014 Dodge Journey. It turns out that he purchased and traded in the vehicle in 2014. In the two and half years before contacting us, Keucher has been trying to get anyone interested in his case to publicize it — the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Attorney General and ABC News. It was, you might say, a long and fruitless “Journey.”

Our advocates contacted Chrysler, which responded:

Mr. Kuecher was given employee pricing on his new 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan as well as a seven year or 100,000 mile extended warranty that would retail for approximately $3,500 on his new minivan as goodwill. Based on what he saved from getting the employee price on his new vehicle as well as the $3,500 extended warranty at no charge, he did receive goodwill close to what he was asking for.

They went on to say: “Mr. Keucher no longer owns the vehicle and it has since been sold to another customer; there really isn’t anything that can be done at this point.”

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Chrysler also pointed out that after the vehicle had been traded in and then resold, there had been no record of issues from the new owner.

Sadly, I am forced to agree that there isn’t anything that can be done. Since Keucher traded in the vehicle, and it was resold, there is no proof of the defects or damage. Therefore, there is no way to prove that the loss on the trade-in was Chrysler’s fault.

If you ever need to bring a claim against a company, always get and keep as much proof as possible — for example, photographs, expert reports or receipts. Without any proof, a claim is bound to fail. Further, waiting to contact us until two and a half years after the vehicle has been sold means any chance of successfully advocating is lost.

Reluctantly, therefore, this story is a Case Dismissed.

John Galbraith

John is a UK based lawyer and writer. He loves to travel and can be frequently found in remote locations in a suit and cravat. Read more of John's articles here.

  • Jeff W.

    Ignoring the elapsed time with this case, I am going to ask the obvious question. If you were quite unhappy with the way Chrysler treated you in attempting to fix your Dodge Journey, why would you purchase another Dodge? Plenty of competition in the auto industry.

  • Mel65

    Wow. That surprises me. We had a Plymouth Voyager that had numerous problems in the first few years we owned it. Everything from the paint bubbling and peeling to a broken tensioner bolt, to a new transmission at fewer than 60K miles. One day I copied all the receipts for non warranty repairs, wrote a letter and sent it off to Chrysler. A couple weeks later, I received a letter stating that while some of the repairs we’d made were “wear and tear” and “maintenance” some of the things that went wrong shouldn’t have, and they sent me a check for I believe $1100 or so. I was surprised and impressed at the time.

  • sirwired

    If I was in his place, I would have pretended to ignore the “spotting” issue after the first couple repairs didn’t fix it. (Still can’t quite figure out what it’s referring to) He could have focused on the fact the windows were getting stuck, which is undeniably a defect.

  • BubbaJoe123

    “Keucher describes what happened: “I went back to the dealer and they got Chrysler involved. Chrysler was going to replace the vehicle.” And then they weren’t. No, of course not. Why try to do the right thing when you can do the cheap thing?”

    If there was an issue with the auto glass (no idea what a ping pong ball effect is), it doesn’t seem unreasonable to try to fix that issue, rather than take back and exchange the entire car.

  • Lindabator


  • Extramail

    If he is as stated, an auto service specialist, why didn’t he notice the defect before he bought it? Or why didn’t he attempt to fix it? And, why wait 2 1/2 years? Why trade it in for another dodge? I also know that employee pricing is a considerable savings so I can see where the dealership thought he had been compensated. We also all know that a car is not worth what you paid for it the second you drive it off the lot. Too many questions for this sort to end any other way than it did.

  • BubbaJoe123

    I wonder if he’s talking about the patterns you can see on modern car windows (sometimes described as leopard spots) when you look at them through polarized sunglasses. It’s a product of how the glass is made, I believe.

  • greg watson

    Lesson learned………………you snooze ——- you lose !

  • Rebecca

    Exactly. Especially since this isnt a mechanical defect, except maybe the window mechanism. It’s cheaper to completely replace the doors than the entire car.

    That would be like me saying the burners on my stove don’t work so I want my entire kitchen gutted and remodeled. Not just a new stove.

  • sirwired

    I hope that’s not the case. Because the dealer totally should have explained that instead of ever touching the glass. (That funky pattern in some side/back glass is a byproduct of the tempering process.)

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    For that amount of money, wouldn’t contacting an attorney have been prudent?

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