Motorlegends.com‘s motor legend David Holzman forwards an e-mail:
My six year old 2003 Mazda Protoge5 is rusting out pretty bad [see: attached]. I had the left rear panel repaired two years ago (I didn’t realize then that the body was still under warranty). But the panel has continued to rust, to the point where the bracket that holds the bumper failed. From my online research, rust seems to be a problem with some vehicles of this model. I have seen some on the road with similar rust and others with none at all. I called the dealer and they told me to go away. Mazda has washed their hands of this problem and left those of us unfortunate enough to have bought the vehicle from this particular batch up the creek. We obviously can’t sell the car for anything near what others are selling for and I doubt it can be on the road for more than couple years before the rust renders it useless. Do we have any recourse?
OMG, those pictures are scary! Et tu, strut tower?
Legally speaking, Mazda’s rust proofing warranty is for five years with no mileage restrictions. Unless the car sat on a dealer lot for a year, that warranty expired. So your friend is totally screwed.
Mazda could rectify the situation, going after the vendor of toothless chemicals that caused this problem. But body rot isn’t a quick fix for anyone involved, nobody wants to touch that problem. It’s tragic, actually.
Getting lawyered up might work but don’t expect a quick resolution. Talk to a lawyer that specializes in class-action lawsuits and ask (on various car forums) if anyone else is interested. If your query gets downplayed/deleted on a Mazda forum, there’s a strong manufacturer-sponsored undercurrent behind the scenes. And that’s gonna make things tough.
But you can do it: if street racers can sue and (ultimately) bitch-slap Ford for something as trivial as underpowering the 1999 Cobra, nothing is impossible. But it is worth the trouble to get book value for the car and your legal fees back? As someone who believes cars can live forever, I hate saying this: just deal with it. Drive this Mazda until it falls apart.
In your driveway. Literally.