Woman says SUV burst into flames 22 minutes after she drove away from used car lot

GRAFTON, Wis. – A Wisconsin woman says her SUV burst into flames 22 minutes after she bought it, and the used car dealership that sold it to her is refusing to give her money back.

Images from the incident serve as a haunting reminder of Nicole Brandt's near-death experience on Wednesday, April 3.

"I haven't been able to drive since then," Brandt told WITI Monday.

She was on I-43 northbound in Grafton, on her way to pick up her kids in the used 2006 Chrysler Pacifica she purchased at Big Bill's Auto in Milwaukee when she knew something was wrong.

"Something from underneath the engine. It was just melting. The engine was just melting out from underneath," said Brandt.

The SUV began smoking, and Brandt pulled over. An approaching driver snapped photos. Brandt got out seconds before flames appeared near the windshield.

"The car is a shell. A burnt-out shell," said Brandt.

No one at Big Bill's Auto would talk to a WITI reporter who stopped by on Saturday and Monday.

"All I wanted was my money back," said Brandt, who told WITI she saved for two years to afford the vehicle.

After some haggling on Thursday, Brandt said she thought she was able to get the dealership to refund the $2,900 she paid for the SUV – but now she doesn't think the funds were ever transferred.

"There's no money in the account," Brandt said. "The bank said that they should have at least seen the transaction -- even if it hasn't hit my account yet. They should at least see it. He didn't do the refund."

Officials with the Grafton Fire Department and Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office said they will never be able to determine what really happened to the SUV.

Meanwhile, Brandt said she's looking into ways to try to get her money back. She did not have insurance.

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