Any chance my extended warranty will cover a delaminating paint job?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1988 Dodge Caravan, which I purchased new with an extended warranty. I would like to know what you are supposed to do when it has under 40,000 miles on it, and the paint starts peeling real bad. I mean in big pieces. The service representative won't look at it, and Chrysler says--without ever looking at the vehicle--that weather caused it. Three different garages have said it was a bad paint job from the factory, and that in their opinions, Chrysler should have to pay to have it repainted. The paint finally got so bad that I had to pay to have it stripped down to bare metal and repainted, at a cost of $2,300. I feel people ought to know that Chrysler's warranty doesn't amount to much, and I would never buy another vehicle from them. I have contacted several departments within Chrysler and every government agency I could think of, and I still couldn't get any help. What else can I do?

RAY: You certainly did contact every government agency you could think of. Copies of your letters were forwarded to us from the Agriculture Department, the Peace Corps, and the CIA!

TOM: I'm not sure what to suggest here, Delores. Ford and Chevy both had problems with "delamination" back in the mid to late eighties. And to be perfectly honest, we haven't heard about similar problems at Chrysler, but it certainly sounds like the same thing from your description.

RAY: Delamination is a scientific word for "paint comes off in big sheets." And it WAS a manufacturing problem. No doubt about it. Some vehicles got repainted when people yelled loudly enough, but a lot of owners just got the "corporate shrug," particularly if they didn't complain about it when the car was still new.

TOM: I'm sure your extended warranty doesn't carry any weight with Chrysler. It was sold by your Chrysler dealer, but it probably isn't a Chrysler warranty. Those warranties are often written by independent insurance companies. And regardless, I'm sure it doesn't cover the paint.

RAY: And now that the van is approaching eight years old, Chrysler's argument (once they give up on that lame weather story) will be that they shouldn't have to pay for a brand new paint job on an eight year old van. And they're right about that. But they could pay for part of it, couldn't they?

TOM: So here's what I suggest, Delores. Write to a couple of morons who answer car questions in the newspaper and tell your story. And hope that when Chrysler sees this, they'll be so embarrassed that they'll get back in touch with you and make a deal.

RAY: I mean, the least they can do is offer some of that cheap looking fake-wood contact paper they put on their minivans and let you cover the van in that. I've never been able to get mine to matter how many hours I've scraped at it. Let us know how you make out, Delores.

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