By on November 27, 2009

Picture 3

Ben writes:

Hello Sajeev, my father owns a 2005 Ford Focus wagon. The car has 100,000 km’s on it (Canadian) and it has been well maintained. The car has never given him any issues and runs very well but the paint is in horrible condition. He purchased the vehicle after the lease was up and soon after the paint started peeling. He didn’t think too much of it, but recently it has gotten much worse… Ford did not apply primer on the car.

A couple of weeks ago we took the car into the dealership where he bought it. The salesmen there were absolutely shocked that a 4 year old vehicle could be peeling so badly and they said that if we contacted Ford that they would stand by us. My father contacted Ford of Canada and they said that they would arrange for a Ford representative to view the car. They took two weeks to call back and they basically said that it is his problem and they refused to do anything about it. My father has always been a Ford supporter; he has had 3 foci and 5 other Fords before them. He also has a 2006 Focus sedan which has perfect paint, but he is seriously reconsidering purchasing another Ford product.

I am just wondering what the next step should be. The paint is chipping off revealing steel, which is causing rust to form and spread. You can see in the pictures that around the inside of the doors are starting to rust. He has been quoted at $3000 to repaint the vehicle. I really think that Ford should take some responsibility. I am just curious what you think he should do at this point. I really enjoy piston slap on TTAC and would appreciate any advice.

Sajeev answers:

Wait, isn’t Ford’s corrosion warranty still in effect?  Ford of Canada’s website says you’re covered for 5 years and unlimited mileage.  Even if the time period has passed, I’d consider legal action. Go to the local courthouse and file for arbitration. That’ll get the right people involved in Dearborn, and they might get a little scared too.

Back to the car: I’ve never seen a somewhat recent factory paint job peel that badly. I mean…damn, that’s some seriously bad luck.   Since any vehicle with the word “wagon” in its name is pretty cool, I’d get it repainted even if Ford tells you to go pound sand.  If the car will be around for the next 5-10 years, avoid the cheaper places (like MAACO in the USA) and spend a little more for quality labor and decent paint products.

That said, $3000 CDN is a little high.  If you got that quote from the dealership’s body shop, find an independent shop with good references.  The price will be significantly less, and the quality might be better.  Body shops at dealers are a hit or miss affair, and I’ve seen far more misses than hits. Which is another reason why dealerships deserve their (collectively) negative reputations.

(Send your queries to [email protected])

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

40 Comments on “Piston Slap: Paint Your Wagon, Or In Ford We Rust?...”

  • avatar

    I’m a bit surprised that the underlying metal isn’t galvanized or something. You still see peeling early to mid-90’s cars around that never got in for their recall repaint back in the day, but for that to happen to a 2005 model is just weird. To me it indicates they did a poor job keeping the metal clean before they starting the coating process. Really poor… unless the car was repainted after major bodywork.

  • avatar

    Take that sucker back to the dealer and complain loudly – you’re under warranty. If that doesn’t work, call the consumer reporter at your local TV station – that worked for me once. Car dealers just LOVE the local TV station showing up at their doorstep over a car that rusted out in four years.

    A six pack of Molson says your problem happened because the car arrived at the dealership with a paint problem, and was re-sprayed before it was purchased. Even so, if it was sold new, the warranty applies.

    On a different note, I’m a Focus owner (’05 ST sedan), and I’ve had no rust problems whatsoever, even though I live in Colorado, where the roads are treated to a fare-thee-well from October to March. In fact, I’ve never even seen a rusty Focus living here.

  • avatar

    Don’t collectors go bonkers over the patina upon the antiques they desire?
    Ponder future value as you roll the heap onto the floor of Antique Road Show and the assigner of values lambastes you for refinishing the jalopy and greatly decreasing its value.

  • avatar

    Dealing with Ford about a defective product is pretty frustrating. Even when they acknowledge it. I had a 2005 focus. It had defective brakes. The 2005 had brake failure and I rear-ended a truck with a tow hitch. 4 grand in body damage. Despite the fact that ford released a TSB for the issue (that the dealership did not know about) and that I had the car in 12 times in one year before the accident to try and get the brakes fixed, ford told me to get bent basically. They refused to pay for damages and let me out of my lease unless I leased another focus. They handpicked a focus for me. A sissy looking rose coloured one with a scratch on the hood and rear from shipping. It was like spitting in my face. After a month of arguing with them they agreed to let me lease a black one and allowed me to cut the lease short by one year if I did not pursue legal action. I did not have a lot of money and could not afford to fight them I figured so I just sucked it up and drove their POS for two more years. One of the happiest days of my life was when I returned the Focus thus ending my relationship with Ford. Good riddance.

    • 0 avatar

      Dealing with a defective product period is pretty frustrating.  But IMHO the dealer and the manufacturer have a role to play.  When the 3rd gear went bad in my girlfriends 2005 Vibe (out of warranty) the local dealer replaced it for free and sent GM a warranty claim.  This dealer should do more to take up the cause of this customer and offer to repaint the car properly for NOTHING and then even if Ford tells them to “GO TO HELL” they’ve kept a valuable customer in your father.

    • 0 avatar

      The only major warranty issue I had with Ford was the engine, which yours truly managed to grenade while re-staging “Bullitt” in Colorado. I tried to get them to cover it, but in the end, the problem was my fault, and when they turned me down, I didn’t fight it. I had that one coming.

      You’re right about the brakes on Focuses too – I’ve gone through a whole collection of pads on my ’05 ST. And beware the Pirelli tires – those are good for about 18,000 miles. The Kumhos I put on to replace them aren’t much better wear-wise, but they’re good handling tires, and they’re a lot cheaper.

      Otherwise, I’ve driven this car like I stole it, and it’s been flawless other than a couple of very minor glitches that they fixed under warranty. Still looks cherry inside and out (aside from the milkshake my daughter spilled on the seat).

      I’d consider another Ford next time around. Maybe an arrest-me-red Mustang GT with the rear window louvers and the glass roof?

  • avatar

    I am not sure about what CAMVAP’s time limitations are, but look them up. Or get a lawyer to send them an ominous sounding letter. Alternatively, take them to small claims court. Remember when you are getting the documents served on Ford, serve it on the President of Ford Canada. That gets their attention. Which dealership did you get it from?  Just curious.

    Anyhow, you just managed to crush my faith in Ford…my dad’s Crown Vic had the same problem and it was built a decade or so before your dad’s Focus.  That should have been ample time to address thatproblem.  Unreal.

  • avatar

    A six pack of Molson says your problem happened because the car arrived at the dealership with a paint problem, and was re-sprayed before it was purchased. Even so, if it was sold new, the warranty applies.
    I agree with this, but I do have one question: where in Canada do you live, and where is the car parked?  I ask because this looks like salt-induced rust on a car that spends it’s winters parked in a heated garage.   Again, it shouldn’t rust this bad even if you live in the southern Ontario salt belt, but it’s probably what exacerbated the problem.
    Focuses do seem to rust a little more readily than other compacts, but even the examples I see in places like Oakville or Hamilton have more miles and less rust than this.  You’re definitely looking at a substandard paint job, either factory or dealer-applied.  Grab yourself a copy of Phil Edmonston’s Lemon-Aid guides: they’re the authoriative work on how to deal with rust, delamination and general manufacture dickery in Canada.  The APA (the organization responsible for the book) can sometimes help you in your arm-twisting.

  • avatar

    The key word on your rust warranty “perforation”. Ben,your dads car has what they call,surface rust. I gott’a agree with “freedmike” this car has seen a half assed after market paint job.

     If I was your dad, I would try and make my best deal with the Ford dealer,assuming they have thier own body shop. If they balk, tell them to uh….. try and ah..? Well you get my drift.

     Then take Sajeev advice. Tops $2000 cdn and shop around.

  • avatar

    +1 on the corrosion warranty. If you haven’t had any body work performed on the vehicle and purchased it new, then it should be covered.

  • avatar

    It also doesn’t look like the car’s ever been rustproofed. When your paint issue is resolved, I highly, highly recommend spending the hundred bucks at your nearest Krown rustproofing establishment to limit future corrosion. My 01 Focus wagon is in mint condition, thanks to the rustproofing. And I live in Ottawa. Well worth the investment.

  • avatar

    The 5 year warranty we get on paint/corrosion here in Canada is pathetic. Subaru’s weasel words, and others I’ve seen, warranty against perforation from the INSIDE. Surface rust on the outside, you eat yourself. Totally useless, because who has seen holes originating from the inside on a less than 5 year old car?
    Small Claims and the APA are your best bet, as mentioned by others.
    Thank goodness I didn’t get  a Fusion V6 AWD a couple years ago. Got friends finding the interior looks a bit shoddy after that time.
    Looks as though Ford still has a way to go to treat customers properly.

  • avatar

    The key word on your rust warranty “perforation”. Ben,your dads car has what they call,surface rust.
    I can’t quite tell, but it looks like he’s through the metal on the trunklid, but you’re right about the term “perforation”.  That said, there’s a lot of precedent for this kind of thing in the small-claims system and you should get something unless they can prove collision damage.

  • avatar

    I had a ’83 Ford that had horrible paint on it.  In three years the primer was showing.  I took it back to the dealer and they said it was sun damage.  I said I did drive the car during the day but they would do nothing.  I will never ever buy a Ford product again because of their attitude.
    Is the paint pealing all over the car or only in a selected area?  If only in one area then it looks to be accident damage repaired poorly.  This is a perfect example how car companies lose customers.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Please check out the Lemon Aid Books at any Public Library, I remember seeing a article on this problem, also contact Phil Edmonston at [email protected]  tell him, about this problem, I am sure he can help you!

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Ontario has no lemon law. The self-serving industry insiders and advocates who enforce the minimal statutory consumer protections are officially on record there is no such thing, curious when all U.S. jurisdictions have strong lemon laws! The industry operated Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP) is the sole official arbiter of new vehicle defect and warranty disputes notwithstanding several automakers refuse to participate. An overwhelming majority of consumers reporting their CAMVAP results to the Automobile Protection Association (APA) said they were dissatisfied.

  • avatar

    There is a lesson in here somewhere on the foolhardiness of leasing a car and then buying it.

  • avatar

    When your paint issue is resolved, I highly, highly recommend spending the hundred bucks at your nearest Krown rustproofing establishment to limit future corrosion.
    I will give a big, fat +1 to Krown.  They do good work and they stand behind it.

    • 0 avatar

      I will +2 that statement.  Been taking my vehicles to Krown for years.  Truck guys are stunned at the condition of my Ram2500 when they discover it’s a 1994, and I partly have Krown to thank for that.

  • avatar

    Putting  $2-3K into cosmetic repairs on any daily driver with a 100K+ miles is nuts.
    If it was for tires, brakes, a transmission even,  I could see the point.  You got to keep it rollin’.
    Reclaiming rust is a loosing proposition, especially with a “body-on” procedure . You can never get the last of it hiding behind some panel edge, or sheet metal fold. And that little remainder will multiply until your new paint bubbles again-especially when exposed to snow covered roads and their treatments.
    You will get no help from Ford, without a big stick to wack them with. They will just delay, stall, and ignore you, in the hopes that you, and your problem will go away. By all means take your best shot, but their legal department is trained for this,  so go ahead and make their day.
    Clean up the rust as best you can, shoot it with some sort of rust converter, and then do the best you can blending it in with some Duplicolor rattle can. Taking it to a “pro” will just put braces on their kids.


    • 0 avatar

      Putting  $2-3K into cosmetic repairs on any daily driver with a 100K+ miles is nuts.

      I agree with you there. This Focus is probably worth five grand or so. If I were him, if I couldn’t get any love from Ford, I’d sell it for whatever I could get for it, and buy a different one. Lord knows there’s no shortage of reasonably priced Focus wagons out there.

    • 0 avatar

      Putting  $2-3K into cosmetic repairs on any daily driver with a 100K+ miles is nuts.
      I don’t agree with you on that.  If a car is mechanically sound and has a good chance of making it for another 3 or more years – this car should- why drive  something that screams “trailer park?”  There is a sense of pride in having older cars in mint(ish) condition.  This car isn’t even old.  I don’t mind driving an older car as long as the body is fully intact.  Once somebody caved in my rear quarter panel and I sold the car for dirt because a real (non-Bondo) repair was too costly.  But that car was old.  Lost out on at least 50K more use, but there is no way I was going to drive a dented car.  This one is relatively new.
      That quoted price seems high for the damage shown in the photos, so if you have to eat it, shop around.    Also, look carefully for signs of bodywork…overspray from masking as factory paint is applied first, circular swirls from sanders, bondo around the edges, seam sealer of two different colors layered on top of each other…there are lots of clues.  I find it odd that a car of that age would rust like that.  Modern cars have two sided galvanized steel and your corrosion has eaten through that, suggesting that something may have abraded it away (sanding?) or constant exposure to a corrosive environment (yep, heated garage and a repeated 6 months of salt).  Ford should step up to the plate on this even if there was bodywork, as you started out with a new car…
      If they hang you on the perforation bit, how much time do you have to go?  If you have some time, you can help the corrosion along to make sure you do get perforation…dishonest, yes.  But so is not standing by your product.

  • avatar

    More proof that auto dealers are some of the most short-sighted folks on the planet.

    With all the upheaval and misery smacking down the auto industry, you would think that the dealer would work a little harder to retain the customer, even if it meant a small loss in repainting the car, or exerting some effort in going to bat for him against Ford.

  • avatar

    Did he buy it new or used?
    If used pehaps it’s not the OEM paint job. That or it was built on a Monday…

  • avatar

    Try calling OMVIC if you’re in Ontario as they can put pressure on Ford AND the Better Business Bureau.  After that, sue them in small claims court.  Hitting them at all fronts possible is the only way to get them to wake up (BBB, OMVIC, SUE). Its the only way with this company. They dont pay attn at all to people that call customer service!   you can be 100% right and they just refuse to do anything because they think you’ll just ‘go away’.  I used to work there – so i know.

  • avatar

    @Kurt B  99% of the paint and prep process is performed by automated machinery,and robotics,all controlled by  a PLC. I guess its possible that all of them could of gone on a weekend drunk. I mean really, isn’t that what auto workers do?  Right, a couple of the robots got overoiled,and booked off sick,and the PLC was  hungover. Over paid lazy union dudes,you got to hate em.

  • avatar

    So essentially all the hype in their ads about improved quality and engineering still doesn’t extend to standing behind the product.  Very professional.  Makes me want to rush right on down to my Local “Ford Store”.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “It also doesn’t look like the car’s ever been rustproofed. When your paint issue is resolved, I highly, highly recommend spending the hundred bucks at your nearest Krown rustproofing establishment to limit future corrosion”

    Wow I didn’t think people even did that with new cars anymore. IMHO any current vehicle that can’t survive at least 10 salty winters with a little care isn’t worth owning. Rust proofing wouldn’t have helped what’s happeninig to that Ford anyways.   

  • avatar

    Photo #11 suggests a cheap replacement door skin, the way the lower flap is completely rusted vs. everything else in good shape.   I smell an accident repair here, which might explain all the peeling if it was a poor respray.   Was the car purchased new or used?

  • avatar

    My guess is either :

    Open door, hit bottom of door on concrete curb, add road salt, repeat for two to  three years, heated garage would speed process up.


    Undisclosed repair by a transit company delivering car to dealer.

    Either way this looks like damage not a defective job done at the plant.  When the plant fucks it up it sprouts rust along multi edges and usually pimples the entire surface.  These issues dried up with most all new models after the mid 90’s. 

  • avatar

    Is there a shot of the whole car?
    in picture 9 and 5, I can’t tell if I’m looking at the inner doorwell, big paint bubbles, or dents from an accident.

  • avatar

    We had a 93 Escort that lost most of the paint in the rain gutters.  But it lasted over 14 years and 200k miles, so I can’t really complain.  Too bad they stillcan’t get it right.

  • avatar

    A good friend of mine just sold his ’04 Focus sedan, that he bought two years ago from another good friend of mine, who bought it new. The car had just a little over 100k on it, and the lowest part of the front fenders near the doors were peeling pretty bad. I know for a fact that the car had never been in an accident. I told my friend who bought it new and he told me that it would be fine, as it was e-coated at the factory.
    I hope it’s just a rare occurrence, as I am contemplating the purchase of an older (2002-2006) Focus for myself as a way to save money and not worry too much about having a high car payment for a while.

  • avatar

    Wow, I sent this to Sajeev in August I believe. Thanks for the great responses. The car was purchased brand new by my father. It has never been in an accident. Mechanically the car has been near perfect but the interior is really falling apart and the peeling/rust was all around the bottom of the car; the hatch, all 4 doors, around the gas tank etc.
    Ford continued to not take any responsibility and my dad had to get the bottom half of the car repainted.

    Also, his 2006 Focus sedan has started to peel on the bottoms of the drivers and passengers side doors and this car will also require a trip to Maaco (just given an $800 estimate). He has also never had his cars rust proofed even though he should, and we live north of the GTA in Ontario so it has seen some awful conditions… yet my 2002 Legacy still looks and runs mint and is rust-free even though its been through the same conditions… Ford screwed him over and he will never purchase another.

  • avatar

    Ford screwed him over and he will never purchase another.
    Join the club.

  • avatar

    yet my 2002 Legacy still looks and runs mint and is rust-free even though its been through the same conditions… Ford screwed him over and he will never purchase another.

    My 2000 Toyota has NOT ONE spec of rest; I also live north of the GTA and has been through the same conditions.  Funny, I was looking at new Taurus lately.  Not anymore.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Anyone who plans to buy a Focus ie Used, buy the latest year you can afford, the earlier Focus Models had numerous recalls and serious problems, again if you are living in Canada, read the Lemon-Aid books

  • avatar

    Ford recently lost a Small Claims Paint Peeling Court Action. There apperars to be paint failure issues with various models. Details and active discussions may be found in this forum which is open to the public:

    We have issued 2 press releases on the issues associated with the recent paint failures that are plaguing the industry.

    It is our intention that objective criteria (individual film thickness measurements per layer) be the starting point in addressing paint failures.

  • avatar

    Independent Book Review summarizes automotive paint durability issues:

    Of Relvance:
    Ford Paint Peeling, Ford Paint Problems, Ford Paint Chips

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • spookiness: I have ’10 Focus. Bought used @58k and I now have 135k. It has far exceeded my expectations. Lots...
  • FreedMike: I believe the 3.6 engine is also from Chevy. Also, it shares a platform with the current Camaro (which...
  • Art Vandelay: With respect to the 80 percent I am referring to where I am working ..a small US Territory in the South...
  • 28-Cars-Later: He has B.C. powers.
  • 28-Cars-Later: The 2.0L motor, not sure about anything else.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber