Ferrari Dealership Altered Odometers on Used Vehicles for Profit

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ferrari dealership altered odometers on used vehicles for profit

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.”

Join the conversation
2 of 31 comments
  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Feb 28, 2018

    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!

  • Notapreppie Notapreppie on Mar 01, 2018

    > Ferrari Dealership Altered Odometers on Used Vehicles for Profit Is there another reason to alter an odometer?

  • Lou_BC Murilee is basically correct on the trim levels. People tend to refer to Ford's full-sized cars as "Galaxie 500" or "Galaxie's" even though that's just the mid level trim. I was never a fan of the '69 snout or any of the subsequent models. The vacuum controlled headlight covers typically failed. It was a heavy clunky system also found on the Mercury's like the Cougar. The XL's and LTD's could be purchased with factory bucket seats and a center console with a large shifter, similar to the type of throttle on an airplane. The late 60's era Ford cars had coil springs in the rear which rode nice. The shape of the fender wells did not lend themselves to fitting larger tires. The frame layout carried on to become the underpinnings of the Panther platform. I noticed that this car came with disc brakes in the front. There was a time when disc's were an upgrade option from drum brakes. Ford's engines of similar displacement are often assumed as being from the same engine families. In '69 the 429 was the biggest engine which was in the same family as the 460 (385 series). It was a true big block. In 1968 and earlier, the 428, 427, 390's typically found in these cars were FE block engines. The 427 side oiler has always been the most desired option.
  • Drew8MR Minivans are expensive new if you are just buying them for utility. Used minivans are often superfund sites in back compared to the typical barely used backseats in a lot of other vehicles and you aren't going to get a deal just because everything is filthy, broken and covered in spilled food and drink.
  • Arthur Dailey This is still the only 'car' show that our entire family enjoys. This is not Willie Mays with the Mets style of decline. More like Gretzky with the Blues. It may not be their 'best' work but when it works the magic is still there.
  • Cprescott Are there any actual minvans left? Honduh and Toyoduh are bloated messes - the Kia Carnival as well. These vehicles are within inches of a 1960's short wheelbase Ford Econoline in size. Hardly mini.
  • Arthur Dailey Ford was on a roll with these large cars. The preferred colours being either green or brown. The brown was particularly 'brougham'. Chrysler vehicles also seemed particularly popular in green during that era. Ford's 'aircraft' inspired instrument 'pod' for the driver rather than the 'flat' instrument panel was deemed 'futuristic' at the time. Note that this vehicle does not have the clock. The hands and numbers are missing. Having the radio controls on the left side of the driver could however be infuriating. Although I admire pop-up/hideaway headlights, Ford's vacuum powered system was indeed an issue. If I left my '78 T-Bird parked for more than about 12 hours, there was a good chance that when I returned the headlight covers had retracted. The first few times this happened it gave me a 'start' as I feared that I may have left the lights on and drained the battery.