Help With Jeep Cherokee 'Lemon' Warranty Claim


Hi John,

Love your segment 2UE with Tim Webster every Sunday afternoon.

Sadly, I did like the ads say and "I bought a Jeep" (lemon) back in 2009.

It has had many previous problems. Now it won't start. Starter motor? Hoping for help with "goodwill claim" as Tynan won't promise assistance without checking and repairing the vehicle first!

Please help.


Andrew, Helen and four kids


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the kind words mate. I enjoy the motoring segment with Tim - it's pretty hard getting up after hosting midnight-to-dawn to get there, however. I hope I don't sound like a zombie on air.

Jeeps are not renowned for their deep commitment to quality construction and market-leading reliability, as you have found out. They are pretty sexy vehicles, however, so I guess that's something.

2009 jeep cherokee.jpg

You should expect some pain when dealing with the dealer, because they want to make money out of you, not help you (unless helping you also makes them money). They're not renowned for their largesse.

2009 jeep cherokee rear.jpg

You should not agree to letting them fix the car and then set all the terms and conditions. They should investigate your problem, give you their take on it, inclusive of a cogent diagnosis, their opinion of whether it's a warranty claim or not, and put a likely repair cost to you if it's not warrantable in their view.

It doesn't really matter if the factory warranty has lapsed or not. The vehicle's systems need to remain serviceable for a reasonable period of time. For example, if the battery dies, it's probably quite reasonable for the battery to last four or five years. Therefore, your chances of getting that fixed under warranty are next to zero, because a case could be put that the battery is reasonably at the end of its useful life.

If the starter motor is dead, then it's reasonable to claim that a starter should last longer than 2009-2014 - unless you've done a great deal of off-roading, especially at the beach, which might affect the service life of the starter. What matters is what's reasonable in the circumstances.

It really depends on the nature of the problem, the reasonable life of the faulty component of system, and whether the nature of the way you've used the vehicle wears the component out early or not. In other words, if you've worn it out or otherwise contributed to the failure, you're liable for the cost of repairs. If the thing has just gone on the fritz and died because it's a Jeep, way too early, then it's Jeep's problem.

Guaranteed: the dealer will want you to pay. This will because he can bend you over (he thinks) a lot harder than he can bend Jeep over. (If it's a warranty repair, Jeep pays the dealer for the labour - but the rate isn't as high as you'd pay, and the parts go through at cost.) So the dealer will want you to cop it because - ker-ching! - there's more cash in it for him if you capitulate.

Subject to it being unreasonable for whatever widget to fail at this point, you'll just need to be a bit of a hard bastard right back at them. You say: "I'm absolutely not accepting liability for this defect. Either fix it under warranty, as you're obliged to, or I'm contacting Jeep's head office. And if that doesn't work I'll be approaching the media - because I've had enough. I mean, you guys want me to buy another Jeep soon, right? I'd need to enjoy the ownership experience in order to do that, right?" You can even ask to see the dealer principal, or ask him to call you if the service department fobs you off - and reiterate that bit about head office, the media and the next new Jeep. (Service managers hate getting reamed by DPs. DPs hate getting reamed by head office. And head office hates getting reamed in the media.) Fair trading is another worthwhile conversation starter - especially if you use 'keyword terms' like "you and I both know it's unreasonable for [widget X] to fail this early. It's not an example of fair wear and tear. In this case you guys are obliged to support the product". Personally I get all uplifted just thinking about you saying that to a service manager or DP.

If it turns out that it's reasonable for you to foot the bill, tell the dealer you want a quote on the repair, then get competing quotes from reputable alternative mechanics - including the next-closest Jeep dealer. Choose the cheapest one and tell the service manager you won't give him the job unless he can match [service provider X] on price.

Andrew, you sound like a reasonably nice bloke trying to get nothing more than a fair go. You're probably polite, diplomatic, non-confrontational and prepared to compromise to achieve a mutually acceptable conclusion. Let it all go. You have to. Be a bastard. As in: polite but hard as a rock. don't bend. The dealer is looking for the chance to bend you over, so: don't bend. If you do: no lubricant will be applied, and no reach-around will be forthcoming. You will be violated. Just stand your ground, because they often change their tunes pretty smartly when you stick to your guns and position yourself as an effective advocate for your own self-interest.

Hope this helps. (I'm not exaggerating.)

Let me know how you go.