Dallas Man Concerned About Gas Leak in 2017 Dodge Charger

Fontayne Payton was instantly sold on his 2017 Dodge Charger, from it's sharp color to its muscular build. But about a month after the purchase, he said he started noticing a gas smell.

"I was driving to work and I started smelling it come through the vents," said Payton. "I said this is, something's not right."

He took the car back to Dallas Dodge, the dealership that sold him the Charger. He said a service technician immediately noticed the gas smell, too.

They checked the fuel pump under his backseat and discovered a puddle of fuel leaking from the pump.

"I was frustrated because I was thinking, OK, this is a brand new car," Payton recalled. "I shouldn't have any of these type of problems and especially something like this."

According to the service report, the fuel pump housing cracked, leading to the leak. So, they replaced the fuel pump module and installed a new seal. Payton said they also replaced his back seats because they were soaked in fuel.

He thought his troubles were over, but after filling his tank about a week later, he said the smell returned. When he checked under his seat, he said he saw another puddle of gasoline.

"Here we go again," he said.

The service department identified yet another gas leak. The second service report said they found the fuel pump seal and retainer ring weren't installed correctly.

So they fixed it. But Payton said when he picked up the car, it still smelled like gasoline. 

"Any moment now, the car could probably just blow," he said.

He took the car in two more times for the same problems. Payton said he was sent home with makeshift coffee bags to help cover the smell.

"I laughed because I'm riding around with coffee bags in the car. It's crazy," he said.

Payton believed his vehicle was covered under the Texas Lemon Law and the Serious Safety Hazard Test.

Under this law, a vehicle passes that test if it's been taken to the dealership to repair a serious safety hazard two or more times during the first two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Payton brought this information to the dealership, but said the dealership disagreed, telling him he'd have to trade in his car if he wanted a new one.

That would cost him thousands of dollars, which Payton believed was unacceptable.

The NBC 5 Responds team called Dallas Dodge to find out what was wrong with Payton's car and why he wasn't offered a new one.

The general manager told us he wasn't happy about what happened, and had he known there were issues they wouldn't have sold him the car. But, at the end of the day, they don't build the car and he told me we'd have to talk the manufacturer for additional information.

So we called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA. We received this statement:

"FCA US is working with this customer to resolve his concerns. We take seriously all such concerns and routinely monitor the performance of our vehicles in the field by tracking customer inquiries, and reviewing data streams from multiple sources."

Unable to agree on a resolution, arbitration followed.

In the arbitrator's findings, he said, "As I walked up to the vehicle, there was a very strong smell and when I sat inside the vehicle to check the odometer, the gas smell was very strong inside of the vehicle."

That arbitrator sided with Payton, saying the conditions impair "both the use and safety of this vehicle."

After hearing from both sides, the arbitrator ruled that Payton would receive a full refund for the amount he paid for the vehicle in addition to all other fees, such as tax, title and license.

But, he was told he must pay for the miles he racked up before the first repair, a fee of about $1,400. After this story aired Monday morning, Payton said he got a call from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles saying that he would no longer have to pay the mileage fee.

"I can finally get my money back and get out of this car and get a new car that actually smells like a new car," Payton said.

We looked into fuel odors and leaks involving Dodge Chargers and found more than 50 complaints on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.

Most of these reports stemmed from the 2011 dodge charger, but a NHTSA spokesperson said there have been no recalls.

For more information on the Texas Lemon Law, click here.

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