Suhail Sood recently took his 2016 Ford Mustang GT to a New Jersey Ford dealership for an alignment—a common and hardly labor-intensive job. Since the work took a bit longer than he’d expected, Sood went home and looked at footage from his dashboard camera, which had been rolling during the repair. What he saw is any customer’s nightmare: The mechanics took his car on a joy ride, joked about how fast they were going, and even admitted to burning the clutch.
We’ve written about mechanics speeding in customers’ cars a number of times before, and yet it continues to happen. Sood, a real estate investor, encountered this when he brought his Mustang to Stevens Jersey City Ford in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Sood told me over the phone that he had installed two cameras on his car as a precaution, especially to avoid disputes over who may have caused a road accident. The dashcam came in handy after he left the dealership at around 5 p.m.—more than three hours after his alignment appointment.
Curious why he’d had to wait at the dealership for so long for the repairs, Sood took a peek at his dashcam footage. Here’s what he saw. (A warning that this video sounds like it contains some racial epithets.)
The video begins with the car driving off the hoist, and out of the dealership, then down the street at what the dashcam says is about 50 mph (Sood claims the dashcam is accurate) in an area where the speed limit is marked as 25 mph. Eventually, after the driver makes a few turns, at around 2:20 in the video, he revs the engine for no clear reason.
After a short conversation in the middle of the street, the employee appears to then stop by a Chevrolet certified shop, and talks with a friend. It’s hard to tell, but at around 4:35 in the clip, it sounds a bit like the rear wheels lose traction during acceleration. A similar scrubbing-type sound can be heard at 5:25, and at 7:07, it sounds like there might be a tire squeal.
I hedge, here, because the audio quality isn’t great, and the placement of the dashcam just aft of the engine bay—along with the slow-to-react speedometer readout—make it difficult to assess truly how quickly the driver is accelerating. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a 435 horsepower, V8-powered car, so it’s not surprising that it might be loud, and breaking traction can happen to people not used to a vehicle’s clutch.
Still, this video is damning. After leaving the Chevy shop, the driver can be heard talking with someone on the phone, saying “Dang this shit kick!... They got the wrong one test driving this car. I’m hittin’ this shit.”
Then the employee in the car says that he misses the person on the phone.“That’s why I’m speeding out here,” he says.
He goes on, saying “This shit be burnin’ out, babe,” after which the aforementioned possible tire squeal can be heard at 7:07 in the video. Then it sounds like the person on the phone asks the driver to be careful.
The man behind the wheel then pulls back up to the dealership, and tells someone outside “This be hittin’ bro! This shit be hittin’!” after which he convinces his buddy to join him on a ride. A third person can also be heard in the car, which accelerates down the previously-mentioned 25 mph street to 69 mph as indicated by the dashcam.
Before pulling up to the stop light, a strange conversation takes place among the employees. “I don’t know how to drive stick,” one person says, after which another person (possibly the person who was initially driving the car) asks “Wanna try?” implying that the person should try to learn to drive a manual on the customer’s vehicle. The second person declines, though.
Apparently speaking about the car’s acceleration—one of the employees replies: “You feel it though. It’s pushing my insides in.” Then, at about 10:30 comes what seems like the biggest acceleration pull on the recording. The vehicle occupants all yell with excitement as the car reaches an indicated speed of 75 mph.
“I just went into the future,” one person can be heard saying.
One of the employees then says the car is “straight as fuck,” since he’d just finished doing a wheel alignment. After a pull to over 60 mph and a driver change, the people in the car start talking about a smell. “You’re burnin’ the clutch,” one says. “You gotta let go of the clutch, you can’t be on the clutch all the time.” The response from the apparent person who had been driving: “I know. I’m not good at this yet.”
The video concludes with a 75 mph (indicated) pull, throughout which the employees can be heard cheering. They record the pull (likely on a cell phone), despite seeming to know that what they were doing could get them in trouble, as when they pull up to the dealership, one says “Get me out right here though so they don’t see all three of us in the car.” Then someone else—again, it’s had to see who’s talking—says, strangely: “Yo, this is a really nice car. I hope the owner doesn’t get upset.”
Upon seeing this video, Sood was indeed upset. “It’s very frustrating. I’m annoyed,” he told me. “I was hot headed for the first three days.”
“Owning a Mustang has been a dream since 2008,” which is when he came to the U.S. from India, Sood told me. He went on to explain that, on his second day in the U.S., as he walked around from store to store to find a job, he saw a 2008 deep impact blue Mustang and said “Wow, I want this.”
In August of 2017, he achieved that goal, and bought the GT shown above. Seeing his dream car hooned on camera was tough. “They’re clocking 70 mph, then they’re clocking 75,” he told me, describing what he saw as he reviewed the footage. “Slamming on the brakes, slamming on the gas....Discussing the smell of clutch burning...and everyone is taking turns in the car.”
“What the hell is going on here?” he wondered as he watched.
Sood posted video of the incident onto Facebook, but claims the dealership’s service manager asked him to take it down in exchange for a full $380 refund for the alignment work.
That refund allegedly still hasn’t come, Sood told me, and after looking back through his memory card and finding more damning footage, he revised his demands in the letter to the dealership’s service manager shown below:
That letter asks for a refund for the alignment work, reimbursement for a check-up done at another dealer following the incident, a full clutch replacement, a full brake job, four new tires, and compensation for all the missed work resulting from addressing this issue.
The dealership refused these demands, and Suhail published the dashcam footage onto his Facebook page, urging friends to share the post, which includes a description of the events, including recognition that his Mustang is a performance car designed to be pushed hard:
I understand that the Mustang GT is built to be pushed hard but it’s my car and I pay for it. I did not authorize anyone to drive like a maniac nor have fun in my car at my expense.
He goes on to describe how baffling it was that this happened considering the dash cam, writing:
As far as their staff is concerned, my dash cam is right up there - a big black cylinder with its lights flashing. No sane person with an actual brain and god gifted set of eyes can miss it in broad daylight. There were 3 occupants in my car, one of which didn’t know how to drive a stick and they all missed it.
I reached out to the dealership a number of times on the 28th and 29th, but nobody was willing to talk about the incident. After reviewing a text exchange, apparently between Sood and Stevens Jersey City Ford’s service manager, I asked for the latter’s number and called it.
A “Todd” claiming to work in service answered (Jersey City Ford lists Todd Nigh as its service manager), and while he didn’t talk with me much about the incident, he did hand the phone to someone named Martin (he refused to give his last name), who claimed to be the Fixed Operations Director.
“I spoke to the gentleman myself, and we tried to make this right for him,” Martin told me over the phone, going on to say that where the issue lies is with what’s in Sood’s letter. “The demands that he is requesting that we do is... outrageous,” he said. He repeated multiple times that he felt he was being blackmailed and threatened. “I want to work with the gentleman as much as I can, but I’m not going to be threatened with social media,” he continued, saying Sood “threatened [the dealership] with social media, and threatened to hurt our business.”
“Things happen in this country. Things happen,” he continued. “The people that were involved were terminated... it’s not something that we accept here. We took the immediate actions, and also wanted to help the customer.”
“And for me to replace brakes and clutches and suspension and rebuild his car, I think is very unreasonable.”
Martin acknowledged that he understands why Sood is upset. But, again, he continued by talking about social media. “I’m not gonna be threatened by social media or newspapers... This is the new trend in America. ‘If I don’t get my way, I’ll blow you up on social media,’” the man who claims to have been in the business for 40 years told me.
Strangely, Martin did not concede that the employees drove the car recklessly. “A Mustang high performance car can be driven at 75 mph... it doesn’t ruin tires and brakes and rotors and all this stuff.”
Speaking of the demands, which he guessed totaled about $10,000, Martin concluded our conversation with: “At the end of the day, the people lost their job...he’s asking for extreme demands, and there’s only so much we can do.”
“We want to make it right for the gentleman.”
So that’s where the issue stands today. Sood told me his babied, roughly 8,800-mile car has developed a “third noise,” despite it having allegedly initially gone to the dealer noise-free.
He contacted the local police, but is thinking it may not be worth his time to go court. He also reached out to Ford’s Customer Relationship Center, and their response—which Jalopnik reviewed—read:
Ford dealerships are independently owned and operated; therefore, we cannot intervene in this matter. We have documented your experience and recommend that you continue to work with the dealership’s management team, to resolve your concerns.
Sood says he feels like nobody’s willing to help him. “I may as well...set it on fire right in front of [Ford’s] eyes. It’s very aggravating.”
“Ford refused to help, so I’m pretty much like in a limbo,” he said after telling me a main takeaway from this incident: “Events like these are the reason why people don’t trust dealerships.”