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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

April, 2004

Automotive Paint Peeling Defect

Q. I have a question about a car paint problem.

We have a 2002 Toyota Sequoia Limited in black color with 42,000 miles. Overall, the paint job looks very good. We take care of the car waxing it regularly and keep it in a garage when not used. We live in Indian Wells, California (California desert near Palm Springs).

We just noticed two places on the drivers rear wheel panel where the outer or finish layer of paint has peeled away. One area is about 2 x 3" and the other is about 1 x 1.5". The edges and shape is irregular. It is the glossy finished layer(s) that have peeled off leaving a matt black undercoat(s). This is a very recent discovery. We don't see this anywhere else on the car yet. And no, the place where the paint is peeling is not close to where the gas tank is filled.

I know you cannot give any definitive answers based on an email. At this point, I only need to get an approximate probability based on your experience as to what you think the cause might be. Would you lean more toward a manufacturers defect or something corrosive spilling on the car or reaction to some type of cleaning compound used on the car or fumes in the garage or ???.

Before I go running to the Toyota dealer about this, I need to have some idea about the possibilities and probabilities. If it was most likely this was a mfg. defect, I would probably want an analysis and expert witness evaluation to make sure before I ever contact Toyota. Of all the areas of product warranty, auto paint jobs seem to be the hardest to get the mfg. to agree to. But I have no idea if that is even a possibility to be considered though it seems strange to us. A car in this quality range shouldn't have outer paint layers peeling like this at all and especially at this age.

Thanks for your time,

Don Shapiro
Indian Wells, California

A. In all probability what you have described is a paint defect that is likely to be due to the painting that was performed at the manufacturer's facility. It is less likely that the problem was caused by you, and even if it was the paint should probably have stood up to the environment.

We have been involved in similar problems in the past and automotive dealerships are often very reluctant to accept responsibility . If you need help to determine the cause of failure we are available, but in the meantime I suggest that you discuss this with the dealer at which the Toyota purchased and see how he responds. It is possible that company will simply take the car into the paint shop and repair the defect with no further questions asked .

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to get back to us .

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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