Is there a chance the manufacturer would help cover the cost of my failing paint job?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a dark green 1993 Lexus ES300 with 97,000 miles on it. It rides
great, and I love the car, but about a year ago, the clear-coat finish
started to fade. I had it "detailed," and that helped for a short time,
but now it looks like somebody poured milk all over the hood, trunk and
roof. Lexus believes I must have done something nasty to this car, and
feels no responsibility for the problem.

Do you think the finish on a $30,000 luxury car should fade so badly
starting after three years of driving? The car never went through a car
wash, was only hand-washed, and was waxed once a year. Any thoughts on
this? -- Jeffrey

TOM: Well, if it were my car, I'd look on the bright side. Your Lexus is
now probably less likely to get stolen.

RAY: Actually, you're probably out of luck, Jeffrey. It may be a
manufacturing defect, but it's going to be awfully hard to prove. And to
be honest with you, we've seen very few other late-model Toyota/Lexus
cars with failing paint. So if it is a manufacturing problem, it's
probably an isolated one, which makes it even harder to prove.

TOM: In cases like this, sometimes the manufacturer will offer to pay
for part of the repainting cost. But with nearly 100,000 miles, they can
legitimately tell you to go flake off (so to speak).

RAY: And something "nasty" may indeed have happened to this car,
Jeffrey. You say you waxed it once a year. But certain waxes are not
compatible with clear-coat finishes. While most modern waxes are fine
for all finishes, many older waxes have abrasives that rub off the clear
coat. And if you used a can of wax that had been sitting around in your
basement or garage for a few years, you may have been responsible for
paint damage.

TOM: I'd write a nice letter to Lexus and give it your best shot,
Jeffrey. Tell them how much you like the car, how you've only owned it
for four years, and how you'd consider buying another if they would help
you solve your paint problem. I wouldn't expect too much, but you never

* * *

What's one secret of financial success? Driving a used car! Read How to
Buy a Used Car: Things Detroit and Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. You can
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envelope to Used Car, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420

* * *

c 1997 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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