By on February 28, 2018

News broke earlier this week of a Ferrari dealer embroiled in a lawsuit after a salesman accused the company of authorizing the use of devices that roll back vehicle odometers. Despite being a great way to improve the valuation of a used car, the practice is generally frowned upon — our best guess is because it’s super shady and totally illegal.

However, it was unclear if the issue revolved around one grubby dealership in Palm Beach or a systemic problem that included the manufacturer. The DEIS Diagnostics System that made the shenanigans possible does require online authorization from Ferrari corporate offices. But it could be that someone at home base didn’t know the extent of what the tool was actually being used for.

Unfortunately, they did. This week, details emerged from the case files of Robert “Bud” Root’s lawsuit against New Country Motor Cars. Back in April of 2017, Ferrari issued a memo to the dealership that can best be paraphrased as “cut it out.” 

Root’s lawsuit is less about busting Ferrari than establishing wrongful termination from the dealership. However, he does claim that his taking a stand against the odometer manipulation contributed heavily to his losing the job. According to court documents obtained by The Daily Mail, Root alleges he was fired shortly after discovering how the business rolled back vehicle mileage to artificially inflate prices.

The documents also point the finger at the corporate offices by explaining the procedure: “Each time the Deis Tester device is utilized on a Ferrari vehicle, authorization is obtained from the Ferrari entities via a wireless network connection. During the process, vehicle diagnostics and procedures performed with the Deis Tester device are automatically uploaded to a Ferrari database.”

The matter came to a head when a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari owned by C. Stephen McMillian, a retired CEO for Sara Lee, allegedly paid a technician to reset his vehicle’s milage to zero. Root says he expressed his concerns on the legality of the deal to his employer and was fired as a result. Since then, he has made claims that this is common practice among Ferrari dealerships worldwide.

Adding credence to this claim is a memo from Ferrari published in April of 2017 and filed into the courts this month. The letter makes specific mention of the diagnostic tool, saying it would no longer provide NQS ECU reset cycle codes. “By May 15, 2017, Ferrari SpA will release a software update for the DEIS tester that includes removing this cycle,” the memo reads. “As a result … the odometer ‘reset to zero’ functionality is being removed.”

While tampering with an milage is a major misdeed, Ferrari provided a statement saying the DEIS unit was within its legal limits.

“Resetting an odometer to zero in case of a malfunction of the odometer when the pre-repair mileage is unknown is consistent with the federal odometer law,” explained Krista Florin, director of communications. “Ferrari determined that the risks of odometer fraud in the United States from unauthorized use of the DEIS tool outweighed the convenience of this functionality of the tool, and thus, Ferrari has informed its network with a technical bulletin that a software update to eliminate the odometer reset functionality of the DEIS tool was necessary and disabled this functionality.”

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31 Comments on “Ferrari Dealership Altered Odometers on Used Vehicles for Profit...”

  • avatar

    I guess they figure if the local buy here pay here car dealerships are doing it why can’t they.

  • avatar

    We ought to start using total revolutions to assess the condition of and schedule maintenance on the drivetrain components….

    • 0 avatar

      It would be fun, but the numbers would be staggering, and they might not tell you much about the entire car.

      If a car did all of its mileage at 60mph and 2,500rpm, crank revolutions over 100,000 miles would be 250M. That’s a lot of zeros. Wouldn’t say much about the condition of the wheel bearings, suspension, etc. Might also encourage the manufacturers to make transmissions that lug around and don’t let the engine rev.

      It would be a cool stat, like engine hours on some cars.

      • 0 avatar

        My C7 has a display mode that shows total engine revolutions…and yes it’s a big number. What is surprising is that total hours of operation are lower than you might think. In a bit over 9000 miles of use the hours are only a few hundred.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen 100k mile cars that looked like they just drove off the showroom, and I’ve seen 40k mile cars that looked like they were meth addicts. Condition is 90% of the car’s value. However, when you’re talking Ferrari, there are scheduled maintenance services that cost enough to affect the car’s value.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “I’m gonna take a stand!”


  • avatar

    “Resetting an odometer to zero in case of a malfunction of the odometer when the pre-repair mileage is unknown is consistent with the federal odometer law,” explained Krista Florin, director of communications.

    Take a half truth and quote it out of context; there’s a job opened up at the White House just today that sounds like she’d be the perfect candidate for.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    This is highly interesting as I was just looking at used Ferraris today. I would love to have an F430 Spyder in red, though I might be afraid to actually drive it.

    • 0 avatar

      I tracked an F430 Scuderia a few years back. Scared the hell out of me. Give me a 911 any day.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        I drove a Testarossa on city streets. It was consigned to my friend’s ‘high end cars’ dealership. That alone made me nervous. My then-girlfriend and I had it for the entire day but we were back in an hour. It was incredibly wide for how small it was inside; it stunk of unburnt gas after a minute of sitting still in traffic; people were making stupid manoeuvres to get close to us and check it out; it rode like a skateboard; the clutch pedal required a herculean effort; and I stalled it several times – no big deal, unless you’re in a red Ferrari you don’t own that’s leaking gasoline from somewhere in its expensive guts…

        • 0 avatar

          I met James Glickenhaus at an auction preview where he was looking over a Testarossa. I mentioned that I had reviewed a McLaren 675LT and thought it could be driven daily. He told me that he tried to daily drive a TR. I asked him what broke and he said, “Every fu<king part. Even the frame broke."

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            Perhaps the 512 TR was better. I’ll never know and don’t really want to. When we turned up at my friend’s shop that Saturday I was a bit surprised when he suggested the Ferrari but it likely needed a run. Interestingly, among the Range Rovers and 911s and 968s that seemed plentiful there were two cars we couldn’t take out: One was a race-prepped C5 that a local dentist had had sent to a race shop directly from Bowling Green, then shipped to Calgary ( he drove it twice, apparently ); and the other was a Gen I Miata with a Mustang V8 crammed into it. It was nicknamed ‘The Widowmaker’ – I didn’t ask any more questions about it.

          • 0 avatar

            When I bought a Testarossa, I tried using it to commute to work. At the time I had a 40-mile, hour-long commute. I found the damned thing would bonk its front spoiler on the pavement just going across intersections. And yeah, stuff broke.

            It was very nice once I got onto the highway, and it was magic at triple-digit speeds. Not particularly useful for anything else. I sold it.

            Now I’m looking for a 928, which in S4 or GT form is just as fast as a Testarossa and vastly less of a pain in the butt.

      • 0 avatar

        “Give me a 911 any day.”

        928 maybe.

        Although I’d almost certainly be going 6.75L, Aston Martin, or high-level AMG if I’m buying a rich guy car.

    • 0 avatar

      I opted for a 360, because its almost the same car as a 430, and at the time I couldn’t justify the $60-70k premium for the 430.

      That was years ago though. 430s are down far enough in price, that I’d seriously consider one.

      Don’t be afraid to drive it. Frankly, anything after the 355 can do 100k miles without too much trouble. Maintenance is not cheap, not too expensive, but predictable. The biggest issue you face is finding a place to work on it if you don’t live in one of the major cities. In fact my Ferrari has cost less to maintain than my 3 series BMW did… (not a joke)

      430s are great cars to own- Parts are readily available, as most parts are interchangeable from 1999-2009. I’ve got a friend that I go to cruise ins and such with who has a 430 and he’s been pleased with it.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As shocking as I find this to be, I am not shocked at all. I bet this is rampant among the Ferrari dealer community.
    I find it interesting that seemingly every Ferrari I see going through Barrett, Mecum, online etc. is a low mileage car. I guess everyone who buys a Ferrari never drives it.

    Yet, I see them on a regular basis driving around here in CO, even in the winter. Saw one yesterday coming home with the kid from soccer practice.

    • 0 avatar

      The big problem is a lot of those high end exotics are purchased as “investments”, and any significant mileage ruins the value. Throw in the fact that a lot of these cars are a pain to drive and live with, and minor scratches and rock chips also “destroys” the investment, it is not surprising that many aren’t driven much, but the “investment” angle also creates a great incentive to roll back the odometer on those that do get used. Another factor is the only people that can afford to buy and run exotics tend to be very busy people, contrary to the myth of the idle rich, and hence don’t have time to drive their toys (they usually have more than one).

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I agree with you on this point: busy people, contrary to the myth of the idle rich. The neighborhood next to mine is one of those acreage lots that have houses that a minimum sq ft requirement and all custom homes as compared to my trac home development. There are a fair amount of Bronco players as we are reasonably close to the practice facility and from there a bunch of executives. These are not idle wealthy people for sure.

        Their are plenty of exotics hiding out; lots of Maseratis that are DD, Lambos and Ferraris. From what I can tell these are not collectors though. Garages are not big enough. Perhaps these are more pedestrian Ferraris or something and not investment grade as I see them on the roads significant enough to know that these are not 500 mile a year cars.

        Either way, I think their may be more to this story than what we have read here. If we were to wager, I would put money on the idea that odo tampering is rampant among all, perhaps a select few do not, Ferrari dealers. They, like other business people, will do what is necessary to keep the customer happy.

    • 0 avatar

      As much as people like to glorify older exotics, the truth is that many are also ‘undriveable’ and very uncomfortable, so they may only be driven on occasion. A handful of older Ferraris come to mind such as the Mondial, Testarossa, 208/308, Dino and so forth.

      Aside from the uncomfortable seating position, the pedals on these cars are also offset to the right. Imagine a normal car with a manual transmission; you have a clutch, a brake pedal and an accelerator. In the case of these Ferraris, the clutch is located where the brake pedal on a normal car is, the brake pedal is in the position where the accelerator is, and the Ferrari accelerator is offset even further to the right, or due to the lack of space closer to the braking pedal. It’s pretty messy and frustrating, especially if you have larger feet and shoes.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect it may be fairly widespread. Certainly it is widespread enough for Ferrari to block the capability from all dealers rather than just a few bad actors.

      As to mileage…I think if you’re looking at the auction houses you’re more likely to see a legitimate low-mileage car, as many people use them as investments or show pieces. Typically an owner isn’t going to send the car to auction unless it is a more rare/unusual example or has something special about it that could bring a higher price from a collector. If you shop around on Autotrader/ you’ll see more than a few recent Ferraris with 8k, 10k, or even more miles on them.

      Some people buy them to drive them a lot. Some people have a stable of exotics and while they may DD something exotic, the fact that they are rotating cars keeps the mileage low. I used to work at a hospital where one of the big-wig surgeons owned a sizeable collection of Lamborghinis and other exotics. When the weather was nice he’d drive a different exotic nearly every day. when the weather was less nice he’d drive a Rolls Royce. I’m sure that helped keep his mileage down on any given car. If you assume a 10 mile daily commute 250 days per year, and only half of them in an exotic you’d have pretty low mileage, even after a decade.

    • 0 avatar

      “Yet, I see them on a regular basis driving around here in CO, even in the winter.”

      We were in Montreal for Christmas right after a big blizzard. Coming out of a restaurant on Rue De La Montagne, there was a woman getting into a black Ferrari FF on Winter tires with a baby seat in the back!

  • avatar

    Paging Ferris Bueller…

  • avatar

    Now you know the real reason it is so costly to repair an used Ferrari; it has more mileage on it then stated; resulting in more repairs because everything is more wore out!

  • avatar

    > Ferrari Dealership Altered Odometers on Used Vehicles for Profit

    Is there another reason to alter an odometer?

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