I searched for a reputable truck dealer for my 2002 Freightliner Bucket truck-selected "I-80 Equipment" in Colona. IL soley because they were the only truck dealer that had a 30 day/3,000 mile warranty as part of the sales agreement. Oct 27th 2011 I flew from CA to pick it up and close the sale. Oct 28th the problems started. $20,000 dollars, a new engine and 2 plane trips later-I made it back to California by Thanksgiving 2011. No call backs from I-80; No action on the warranty/repairs; Completely ignored attorney contacts; and even a follow up call last month from one of their salesmen-asking "How is my truck was doing?" I retold my story and still No response whatsoever from I-80 almost a year later.
Guess I'm headed to small claims court in Henry County, Illinois.
HERE'S THE STORY
I found the ad for my truck-requested photos-Salesman emailed me (which I learned later) a coule of obviously photos he doctored up (he smudged all the rust spots befor sending). Internet ads and I-80 salesman misrepresented truck weight as "Under CDL" (all ads listed it as "25,999 lbs GVWR") even calling it a "Class 6" weight class (able to be driven with a regular class C driver's license-per weight class). The vin# however denotes it is actually a "Class 7" (over the 26k lbs, as I-80 stated)-The actual GVWR weight turned out to be 31k lbs requiring a class B commercial drivers license-I discovered actual weight upon returning to California. Before signing the sales docs, I test started the engine at I-80, it was little sluggish but it started after a few revolutions and the engine sounded fine. All looked good to me-so I signed the deal and happened to ask for their mechanic's service report (fortunately it is now crucial evidence that they knew about the engine problems, but no solution was noted by their mechanic). They were to deliver the truck to me at my hotel in Moline, within a couple of hours. But they delayed delivery till late at night (8pm) fully aware I would be driving it back to California at 2am-The truck started up-but was still a bit sluggish-once started it sounded fine. 150 miles later (it was 7:00 am) a loud clatter noise erupted. I also wondered why it only got 4 miles per gallon, but called I-80 for advice-was told it was a bad fuel filter. The very next exit I made an emergency repair stop at a Boss Shop off I-80 West in Des Moines, Iowa. They discovered the fan had come off the clutch as the problem-and because the owner believed the fuel filter was bad-replaced the fuel filter as well. I was told (I-80 owner) to pay the repair costs and they would re-imburse me. I had to stay overnight in Des Moines. The next morning (Sat) the truck would not start-it needed to be jumped and then it restarted after that, the rest of the day. Since no replacement parts were available anywhere in the country for this unique engine (Cummins ISB 5.9 Liter Centrifugal type fan/clutch) anywhere in the country-I called I-80 for help. The owner then convinced me "That Cummins is a real hearty engine-just watch the oil and pressure guages and it'll make it to California, and they'll send the parts to me and it'll be available when I got there". Since it was now a weekend, and the guages did show normal readings, based on the owner's manual-I took the owner's advice and continued West till that night in Laramie, WY I noticed in my mirror, a trail of smoke began to spew from the engine. Stayed in Laramie overnight-I had to call for a jump start again (now day 3) but even then it was still smoking-thought it may be a diesel additive used for sub freezing weather. So I waited till nightfall and headed West-only got 20 miles before the automatic engine shutoff turned the engine off-and had to call for a tow back into Laramie (3am and below freezing-in a montain pass). Towed it back to the mechanic-he then determined the engine had internal problems-bent rods, 2 cracked injectors-and was told it was the main reason for the truck not starting on it's own. I notified owner at I-80 and then they completely ignored my calls once it was determined an engine replacement was required. After 3 more days at the shop, plus more hotel, meals and car rental costs adding up, and no response whatsoever from I-80, I ordered an engine on my own from a company in MN, and had it shipped to the mechanic for swaping out. I left Laramie on Nov 6th-returned 2 weeks later to resume drive back to CA. After break-in the truck began to get 10 or more mile per gallon. Several attempts to get I-80 to honor the warranty they agreed to-have produced further legal expense and my only resort will be trying to sue in small claims to get less than half my expenses back. Plus another flight to Illinois for court.
Engine $9500, Mechanics labor $5200, Fan/Clutch assembly and misc parts another $500 ($15,000 parts and labor) All other related costs were another $5000 so do I sue in small claims court for the max $10,000 allowed in Illinois? Already tried hiring a local *(Henry County) attorney for another $1500 in unanswerd letters, Complaint filed with the IL Attorney General's Office (They ignored them too).