Piston Slap: Corrosive Aftersales on Galvanic Corrosion?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap corrosive aftersales on galvanic corrosion

DC writes:

I am not sure if you have looked at this before, but there are aluminum issues Ford has had on several vehicles. I discovered it after I purchased as Certified Pre-Owned 2016 Ford Expedition XLT 4WD with the upgraded option package. It had over 38,000 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. That number will make a difference later on. The biggest issue though is galvanic corrosion under the paint many customers are experiencing.

The tailgate/hatch and hood are made of aluminum on several years of the Ford Expedition. Within a few years the paint starts to bubble. I read about it online, and contacted Ford. I got a call back from a “Regional Manager” from Ford. She blamed ice on the roads. I pointed out I am in California, and she said oh, then it is salt air from the sea. I then further pointed out I was in Sacramento. She informed me my vehicle did not qualify for a buyback. I said I just wanted it fixed. She said the five-year corrosion warranty didn’t apply to this unless it corroded all the way through the panel. It was covered up to three years/36,000 miles, and not one of the things extended with the Certified Pre-Owned 12 month/12,000 mile. The vehicle was driven as a dealer exec vehicle from about 27,000-38,000 miles.

A couple days later, I was told Ford would cover repainting it. After I dropped it off I found Ford TSB 17-0062, which says it should be replaced, not repainted. It took over a week because they found more extensive corrosion repainting it, but still repainted it after I pointed out the TSB. When I got it back, I had new damage (paint chipped on the hood down to the aluminum) and they have had it four more days now to fix that. I am concerned that one of the theories on this is galvanic corrosion due to dissimilar metal contamination in the aluminum. If that is the case, repainting will be a temporary solution at best. A solution that gets you further from the time when it is covered.

Another issue I have noticed is that, compared to my previous vehicle, the SiriusXM on this vehicle loses signal and says “Acquiring Signal” far more often. When it happens, I can usually spot a cell tower within a few hundred feet. I am comparing it to a 2015 Jeep Patriot High Altitude FWD that was totaled in January when I was rear-ended. I noticed that aftermarket SiriusXM antennas recommend placing the antenna as close to the rear of the vehicle as possible. On the Expedition it is on the roof right above the windshield on the Front passenger side. On the Patriot is is near the rear hatch on the roof.

The third issue is I didn’t see the proverbial fine print on the Sync 3 update that added Android Auto and CarPlay. I had to upgrade the USB hub. As far as I can tell, Ford kept saying it would be available in a software update for 2016 model vehicles with Sync 3. It wasn’t until the press release about the update in May, 2017 that they put in a footnote that a hardware upgrade was needed. I convinced the dealer to discount the part, and put it in with my brother’s assistance since he already had the nylon pry bar needed. Still out of pocket was $63 to add a feature I was told it would have with a software update.

Sajeev answers:

“I am concerned that one of the theories on this is galvanic corrosion because of dissimilar metal contamination in the aluminum. If that is the case repainting will be a temporary solution at best.”

That’s an incorrect conclusion: a proper repair (mostly in the prep before paint, and the zinc chromate primer?) will last the life of the vehicle.

Galvanic corrosion isn’t the end of the world, as the aluminum hood on my beloved 1983 Continental never corroded in 35 years. And that’s not some delusional notion of The Good Old Days, as plenty of new aluminum-intensive cars painted in newer factories, under modern environmental regulations, have decent paint adhesion.

So what’s the problem? It’s the finger pointing when the vehicle is new enough to fall under the factory warranty coverage, or a manufacturer-blessed goodwill repair or a customer pay resolution. Sometimes you never know where the ball will land, so I’m glad they are repainting the affected panels on their dime.

As mentioned before, I reckon any I-Car Gold Class body shop is up to the task. But the collision repair industry is built upon re-work: customer service is key, because getting it right the first time isn’t guaranteed. Paint chips are certainly frustrating, but don’t let it cast a shadow on the repair’s effectiveness…especially if they have a lifetime workmanship warranty (as many shops do).

Perhaps I am being too optimistic, but how else should you armchair such a predicament?

As to your other queries:

  • We are getting conflicting info: SiriusXM says both locations are acceptable, “ mount the antenna on the SUV’s roof, just above the rear window or front windshield.” The dealer won’t do squat to address your concerns, as I doubt there’s a workaround available short of hacking wiring and drilling another hole in the roof. No thanks!
  • Our society lives and dies by the proverbial fine print! The only way around is to get a lawyer involved, but I suspect their fee is far more than the discounted part you installed. So you won…sorta.

[Image: Carcomplaints.com]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 50 comments
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Jul 22, 2018

    Is this a climate specific issue? The only vehicles I've seen in Minnesota with excessive amounts of peeling paint were Luminas and Lumina-based Monte Carlos. Otherwsie, up here it's usually regular old rust that kills bodywork. Of course there are the Hondas running around with peeling bumpers, usually silver.

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Jul 23, 2018

    Odd, never seen this at all. Must be specific to northern climates. I do see MODERN vehicles with peeling paint from all makes including the Duh princesses Hon and Toyo.

  • V16 I'm sure most people could find 155,365 reasons to choose another luxury brand SUV and pocket the difference.
  • ChristianWimmer I don’t want this autonomous driving garbage technology in any car.My main fear is this. Once this technology is perfected, freedom-hating eco hysterical governments (crap hole Germany, UK and the European Union in general) will attempt to ban private car ownership because “you don’t need to own a car anymore since the car can come to you, drop you off and then proceed to service the next customer”... no thanks. Having your own car is FREEDOM.Go away, autonomous driving. I also enjoy the act of driving a car. I want to drive, not be driven.
  • Mike-NB2 The solution is obvious here. Everyone should be raised in an Irish Catholic family and then all it takes is a sideways glance from mom and you're atoning for that sin for the rest of your life. My mother has been dead for decades and I still want to apologize to her. Catholic guilt is a real thing. 😁
  • Wjtinfwb A good car. I don't find Accord's as appealing as they were a decade or two ago, not that they've gotten worse, but the competition has gotten better. It would be my choice if I had to pay for it myself and maintain it for 10 years and 150k miles. They'd be very reliable and no doubt inexpensive miles, but probably a pretty boring 10 years.
  • Lou_BC "augmented reality" Isn't that a mamoplasty?