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Auto Defects > Paint Woes

May 2000

Dear Chrysler Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about paint problems or water leaks in your vehicle. The worst of these problem by far is peeling paint which can cost $2,000 or more. CAS has received thousands of consumer complaints about peeling paint in nearly all Chrysler models from 1985 through 1993. Silver, blue and gray cars, Jeeps and minivans are the worst.

Chrysler has long known about its paint and water leak problems. Chrysler closely guards its policy of paying for repainting peeling paint after the 12 month/12,000 miles written warranty expires because of its enormous economic exposure. Chrysler has admitted to dealers that water from lawn sprinklers and acid rain could damage the clearcoat on 1990 models (Bulletin 23-11-90), woodgrain overlays wrinkle in 1993 Town & Country minivans (23-07-93), paint chips at upper corners of D-Pillar on 1993-94 Grand Cherokees and Grand Wagoneers (23-10-94), discolored bumpers on 1995 Neons (13-01-94), paint under front end covers becomes "milky" on 1995 Neons (23-65-94), paint fogs on 1996-97 Sebring Convertibles & 1995-97 Neons (23-05-97), door trim panel vinyl or paint peels on 1996 Grand Cherokees (23-51-97), chalky residue on black plastic body components on most 1989-97 models (23-03-97), corrosion on/around rocker panels on 1992-97 Vipers (23-59-97). A list of technical service bulletins (TSBs) concerning water leaks is found below.

Although CAS urged Chrysler, Ford and GM to repaint all vehicles with defective paint for free, regardless of whether the vehicle was purchased new or used, only GM adopted a corporate-wide paint policy that pays all the cost of repair for six years and unlimited mileage. Several national class action lawsuits have been filed against Chrysler. One need not contact lawfirms handling these cases to be part of the class action as the court will order notification of all owners covered by the class if a settlement is reached. "Dateline NBC" did a program on peeling paint on November 2, 1997, and has an Internet website,, from which further information can be obtained.

If Chrysler does not fix the paint or water leak problems, you can use small claims court to get Chrysler to pay for repairs as outlined in What You Can Do. For particularly bad cases, you can file a "lemon" lawsuit or use Chrysler's arbitration program to seek replacement or a "buyback" of your vehicle. Chrysler has paid for peeling paint beyond the express warranty but only after owners complained loudly. Many consumers who go to small claims court on peeling paint report successes to CAS. Chrysler may offer to settle by pro rating the repair costs over the average 120,000 life of a vehicle. Try to get neighbors or friends who have similar paint problems to file suit on the same day and get a local television station or newspaper to cover the hearings.

Use the complaint box to provide information which will help us build a strong case against Chrysler. We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible and entitles your to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis. Every home should have this invaluable consumer guide.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Chrysler technical service bulletin (TSB) numbers in parentheses.

Air Conditioner/Heater: Leak onto right floor carpet from plenum air inlet, '87 Sundance/Shadow (23-03-87), Moisture from heater outlet when operating A/C, '91-93 Sundance/Shadow/Acclaim/Spirit/Lebaron (24-06-93); Excess water enters fresh air intake when heater or A/C is on & causes blower motor to seize, '93-94 All LHs (24-04-94); Leak onto carpet from HVAC housing, '96 All Minivans (23-40-96), '96-98 All Minivans (23-43-97A); A/C leak @ front passenger door '97 Wrangler (24-01-97).

Convertible: Leaks at W/S header, door A-pillar end cap & header seal-to-side rail seal joint, '91 Shadow (23-08-91 & 23-12-92); Wind noise & water leaks at top of W/S frame, '93-95 Viper (23-20-95) & '96 Sebring (23- 33-96); Wind noise & water leak at top of A pillar '96-97 Sebring (23-09-97); Water leak between top & side curtains with top installed, '92-95 Viper (23-41-97).

Decklid/Trunk: Water intrusion, '93 Concorde/Intrepid/Vision (23-11-93); Water accumulates between inner & outer decklid panels, '93-95 Intrepid (23-85-94); Water leaks into trunk from spoiler mounting holes, '95 Neon (23-25-95); Water collects in spare tire well or at trunk seam, '93-96 All LHs (23-49-95).

Doors: Leak into passenger compartment through or around doors, pre-'88 Omni-Horizon & Charger/Turismo (23-02-87); Leaks due to improper door glass adjustment, '91-92 Stealth (23-10-92); Wind noise & water leak between door & quarter glass, '96-97 Sebring Convertible (23-33-97A).

Interior: Multiple leaks, '85 Colt (23-11-85); Leaks at side sills & kick pads, '86 Colt (23-03-86); Leak through B-pillar vent collects in rear foot well or at base of lower rear quarter trim panel, '90 Daytona (23-10-90); Water collects under carpet in driver footwell & right rear passenger well, '93-94 Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer (23-16-92 & 23-14-94); Under instrument panel &/or into glove box, '95 Neon (23-48-94); Wet carpet or sound deadener on front driver side floor, '93-95 Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer (23-23-95); Under door into passenger compartment, '96 Grand Cherokee (23-70-95); Water from outside plenum wets silencer pad/carpet in front with musty odor, '95-96 Cirrus/Stratus (23-78-95); Water enters from between door inner panel & door trim panel, '95-96 Breeze/Cirrus/Stratus (23-08-96); Water leak on right passenger side carpet, '95 Avenger/Sebring/Talon (23-30-96); Leaks from cowl wet carpets in front foot wells, '96 Grand Cherokee, (23-38-96), '98 RamTk (23-68-97); Diagnosis of water leak entry points, '97 Wrangler (23-49-96); Air or water leak in driver footwell '97-98 Cherokee (23-66-97).

Roof: Water enters at roof header (sun visor area), all '88 cars & vans (23-01-88); Leaks at roof rack or sun roof cause puddles under headliner, '95 Grand Cherokee (23-36-95); Water drips from roof rail weatherstrip channel into vehicle, '95-97 Neon (23-48-97A).

Sunroof: Leak discolors headliner, '82-83 5th Avenue (23-03-84); Leaks at slide lock latch mounting holes, '92 Stealth (23-20-92); Water spills from headliner during turns or while braking,'96-97 Grand Cherokee (23-14-97A).

Spoiler: Water trapped in liftgate spoiler, '93 Shadow/Sundance (23-28-93).

Weatherstrip: Comes loose from door, '90-91 Laser (23-06-91) & '90-91 Talon (23-58-91); Rolling up front window while driving damages weatherstrip, '91-93 Caravan/Voyager/Town & Country (23-46-93); Body mounted door weatherstrip loose, '93-97 All LHs (23-08-97).

Window: Water enters cowl air intake, '88 Dynasty/New Yorker (23-18-88); Improper sealing of left rear quarter glass causes water under left rear seat &/or carpet, '89 Colt (23-16-89); Improper door glass adjustment causes water leaks, '95-96 Avenger/Sebring/Talon (23-14-96); Water leaks past rear window into cab, '94-97 Ram trucks (23-27-97).

Windshield: Water from upper W/S corner travels from leak at roof seam at rear of cab to front during braking, '93 Dakota (23-40-93); Water leak at top of W/S frame when soft top installed '93-95 Viper (23-20-95).