Ford urged to pay cost of fixing paint faults

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Christopher Jensen
Plain Dealer Auto Editor

A consumer advocacy group says Ford should reimburse the owners of 2000 to 2005 model Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys that have had a problem with the paint on aluminum body panels.

In a technical service bulletin sent to dealers, Ford admits that the blistering or bubbling of paint on the aluminum body panels, such as hoods, is the automaker’s fault "due to iron contamination of the aluminum panel."

Ford should replace the parts and offer a warranty of at least eight years, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Ditlow estimated that hundreds of thousands of vehicles have the aluminum body panels, such as hoods.

But the technical service bulletin is only to guide dealers should a problem occur, and there is no evidence of a widespread problem with the issue, said Kristen Kinley, a Ford spokeswoman.

Paint problems are covered for three years or 36,000 miles on Ford and Mercury models. For Lincolns, coverage is four years or 50,000 miles.

There is no Ford policy to help consumers who have a problem after their warranty has expired, Kinley said, although she said an individual dealer may choose to offer help.

The technical service bulletin identifies the affected vehicles as:

2000-2004 Crown Victoria, Taurus, Expedition, F-150 and Ranger.

2000-2005 Ford Explorer.

2000-2004 Lincoln LS, Town Car and Navigator.

2000-2004 Mercury Grand Marquis and Sable.

2000-2005 Mercury Mountaineer.

The service bulletin says testing by Ford’s Scientific Research Laboratory "has revealed that aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body parts prior to [the car] being painted."

The bulletin also said that repairing the aluminum requires "extreme care" to protect the aluminum parts from being contaminated again.