My husband and I own a ' Ford Taurus charcoal...
My husband and I own a '88 Ford Taurus, charcoal color, which has almost 62,000 miles. In the past six months, we have noticed the paint on the roof and hood is
turning almost white. Now paint is missing from about a 3 foot-by-5 foot area on the roof and a 3 foot-by-2 foot area on the hood. We contacted the service director at
our Ford dealership, and he had us come in so the body shop manager could look at it. They contacted Ford, and we were told that since it had "so many miles," they
couldn't help us with a new paint job. Shouldn't a paint job last more than 60,000 miles, especially if the car is kept in a garage? What's your opinion? -- Lois
RAY: We agree 100 percent, Lois. And furthermore, we have no idea why a paint job is measured in miles. It ought to be measured in years. Of course, if it were
measured in years, you'd probably be out of warranty, too!
TOM: But you've got a legitimate complaint, Lois. While you can't hold a manufacturer responsible for the normal degradation of the finish over the years, you
certainly can hold it responsible for a wholesale failure of a paint job, which is what you're experiencing.
RAY: The truth is that many manufacturers had problems with paint in the mid-to-late '80s. It was a time when EPA regulations required them to change the
formulations of their paints and institute techniques that produced less air pollution.
TOM: The problem was, they really didn't have the hang of these new paints yet. And as a result, the paint jobs on lots of cars (especially blues, silvers and grays) peeled
off in sheets after a few years.
RAY: The publicity got so bad for Ford that it instituted an admirable program to repaint F-150 pickup trucks (its best-selling vehicle). But then it seemed that Ford got
so tired of paying for paint jobs that it eventually just shut down the program and told everybody else to take a hike.
TOM: GM and Chrysler had the same kinds of problems, and in general, all three manufacturers are dealing with these "delamination" cases the same way: on a case-by-
case basis (i.e. they try to brush off one customer at a time). If the car is so new that there's absolutely no excuse, they'll generally eat the cost of the repainting. But if
the car is not new, they'll refuse to take any responsibility, or, in some cases, offer to pay for a portion of the repair.
RAY: It's an unhappy chapter for them that they'd really like to forget about. And they've probably weathered the worst of it already. But we still hear from plenty of
people like you, Lois, who got a lousy paint job and have been offered no help in correcting the situation.
TOM: I'd get in touch with Ford's zone manager in your area, and ask if it'll at least consider paying for a small portion of your repainting. You can't expect Ford to
give you a brand-new-looking car after 11 years, but since you've taken good care of it and garaged it, you shouldn't expect the paint to slide off the roof and hood
RAY: Just be careful that they don't do to you what our local Dodge dealer did to my wife. The roof was peeling on her Caravan, so she took it to our trusted local auto-
body guy. He said it would cost about $800 to paint, but, because it was clearly a defect, he suggested she go to the dealer and try to get it painted for free. Well, the
dealer agreed to pay for half. Great, right? But the dealer doubled the cost of the job and said my wife's contribution would be $800!