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What Happened Here?

Jeep Gladiator Mud Damage

What happens when you take your relatively new Jeep Gladiator off-roading and it breaks? As it turns out for one owner, nothing but a headache.

Outlined in a thread posted to JeepGladiatorForum in December of 2020, user Gladiatrix is now considering legal action against Fiat Chrysler after their 2020 Gladiator Rubicon had its factory warranty voided by one California dealership after a play date in the mud.

The Rubicon was purchased in July 2020, and within days of delivery, it was put to the test. According to the posting, the Jeep “plowed through mud a bunch of times,” which subsequently splashed mud up and behind the radiator, which then found its way into the alternator, causing the generator to fail on site.

Following the failure the truck was towed to the nearest dealership, Russell Westbrook Jeep in Van Nuys, California, (also, yes, THAT Russel Westbrook) where one of the on-staff wrenches quoted at least $3,000 in repairs, which included changing the alternator, swapping both batteries, and dropping in a new radiator, plus labor.

Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
Photo Credit Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Unhappy with the verdict, the Gladiator was then towed to the dealer where the truck was originally bought. The second dealer simply charged Gladiatrix for replacing the alternator and dismissed the other repairs as unnecessary.

Now, this is where the story starts to get fun. Three months later Gladiatrix’s Gladiator started showing signs of significant electrical issues. First, the third brake light stopped functioning due to an internal short. Next came a malfunction of the engine’s stop-start system. Finally, the rear axle started locking on its own, causing fishtailing on dry pavement—this issue has been well-documented by other owners, mud puddles or not.

The truck was once again brought to the original dealer in November where Gladiatrix was informed that the truck would need a new axle assembly—again, a well-documented fix for this issue— plus two new batteries. Unfortunately, none of the work could be performed under warranty because of a restriction allegedly placed on the warranty by Russell Westbrook Jeep, the first dealer the Gladiator visited way back in July.

2020 2021 2022 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Mopar
Photo Credit Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Here we begin to get into finger-pointing. Russell Westbrook Jeep says they don’t have the power to restrict someone’s warranty, but FCA allegedly confirmed it was RWJ in a later communication with Gladiatrix. Apparently, the restriction won’t be lifted because the Gladiator was deemed to have been “submerged.” For their part, Gladiatrix claims the Jeep only ever saw “less than a foot” of mud and they even posted video proof of the outing on the forum.

Here at MC&T we’re not about to take sides in what is very clearly a complicated game of finger-pointing between the three parties. In the two weeks since the issue was first posted the thread has swelled to more than 19 pages of sound and fury, this is very clearly going to be an interesting outcome for all parties involved, and maybe even some who aren’t. One would imagine that Ford is watching this case closely, especially with the company’s highly anticipated 2021 Bronco about to hit the scene to challenge the JL Jeep Wrangler for off-road supremacy.

– By Michael Accardi

2020 2021 2022 2023 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon Mopar Accessories FCA What's New
Photo Credit Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks

Written by MC&T Staff

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