Sometimes, dealers make bad deals for themselves. And this one was definitely one of those cases. They got taken for a ride at trade-in because they didn’t look close enough.

So as I mentioned previously, I went out to look at the red Overland in better lighting and weather today. Colder than shit and cloudy, but good light and no rain. And it’s both better and worse than initial look. The interior is in great shape and only needs the steering wheel completely re-covered. (That’s great shape for these.) The bolster foam isn’t shot and the leather is only just barely starting to show some cracking on the driver’s side. The Alcantara (it’s an Overland) and embroidery is in perfect shape.

The accident or damage wasn’t reported on the Carfax or to the insurer, but it was pretty bad as far as paint goes. When I got down to really inspect, there was tell-tale orange peel on the side-skirt that failed to match the driver’s side. The rear bumper cover was also missing two fasteners on the passenger side. There’s also MAJOR orange-peel mismatch across the rear bumper; the passenger side has a ton, the driver side has none. The color blend is right, but the finish is atrocious.

So my guess here is that they scraped the hell out of it low and the body shop was able to pull out the fender, but had to do some serious respray all down the passenger side. And they half-assed the wet sanding because 10 year old Jeep so who cares. And didn’t bother to fix the front air dam correctly (it got no wet sanding at all, and the fastener break on the passenger side is not repairable.) It definitely was not a hard hit though, and the unibody’s straight as an arrow.

The worse is that there’s penetrating rust on the Class IV hitch. The Class IV hitch is special to these and significantly different from the Class III. The Class III bolts vertically through the floor pan cross-member. The Class IV bolts horizontally through the ladder and actually doubles up the rear bumper crash structure essentially. But it bolts to attach points that are welded into the ladder. Like so:

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Well, there’s major penetrating rust all all along those arms, extending into the frame ladder. Once those welded-in frame attachment points are a problem? You’re done. There is no way to fix that, because it’s welded inside a boxed ladder. Getting at it would require cuts that fatally compromise the structure.

So the body needs a lot more work than I’m happy with. At minimum the whole passenger side ends up needing sanded back down to paint, which means having to reshoot both pearl and clear coats.

But you can’t fix bad bones. And this one’s got bad bones. Surface rust can be addressed. But once you have penetration into the rails, you’re done. You can’t fix that, you can only replace it. The structure has already been compromised. It’s not going to get you killed in a crash necessarily (they design in margins for that,) but you sure as hell don’t want to attempt towing with it. ANY towing.

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And much to the manager’s dismay, they gave way too much in trade because it’s very shiny, has relatively little rust for the age and market, and the interior’s in such great shape.

The most depressing search in the past decade continues. Sigh.