— A Ford bubbling paint lawsuit alleges the warranty is useless for 2013-2018 Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition and Ford Mustang vehicles because they use aluminum hoods and body panels.
According to the lawsuit, the aluminum panels corrode and the paint bubbles, peels, flakes, blisters and suffers from rust problems. But according to the plaintiffs, Ford's "sham" corrosion warranty typically won't cover the damage because coverage is limited to "perforation" of the aluminum panels.
Owners claim this is a problem because perforations cannot occur because the aluminum panels cannot perforate as result of corrosion. The plaintiffs claim this gives Ford the excuse it needs to refuse to repair the vehicles under warranty.
The proposed class-action lawsuit alleges premature corrosion that damages the paint also damages the resale values of the vehicles, but even repairing or replacing the affected aluminum panels is a waste because the replacements have the same defects as the original panels.
Ford has allegedly been aware of the bubbling paint problems as a result of customer complaints and the fact Ford sent dealers four technical service bulletins (TSBs) about the issues.
Ford allegedly began using aluminum panels on 2000 Expeditions, 2002 Explorers and the 2005 Ford Mustangs, but soon learned about corrosion and paint problems on the vehicles.
In December 2004, Ford issued TSB 04-25-1, entitled “Aluminum Corrosion - Service Tip" concerning 2000-2004 Expeditions and 2000-2005 Explorers, among other vehicles.
"Some vehicles may exhibit a bubbling or blistering under the paint on the aluminum body parts. This is due to iron contamination of the aluminum panel. . . . Ford’s Scientific Research Laboratory has performed a number of tests on vehicle body parts returned for corrosion related concerns. Testing has revealed that the aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body part, prior to it being painted." - TSB 04-25-1
But according to the lawsuit, dealers were told to perform "sand and paint" repairs that didn't fix the original problems but only masked the defects.
The plaintiffs claim this bought Ford time until the "non-perforation" corrosion warranty ended and was replaced by an extended warranty that covered corrosion damage if "perforation" was found.
On December 11, 2006, Ford issued TSB 06-25-15, entitled “Aluminum Body Panels - Corrosion - Service Tip” that superseded the 2004 TSB and expanded the number of models and model years affected by corrosion problems.
The TSB included 2000-2007 Ford Expeditions, 2002-2007 Explorers and 2005-2007 Mustangs, but the lawsuit alleges internal Ford communications from two days after the 2006 TSB was issued reveal Ford knew the repairs did not repair the underlying problems.
Both TSBs said the bubbling paint was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body prior to it being painted, a problem technicians were told to fix by sanding to remove any corrosion before the vehicles were primed and painted.
Ford issued another TSB 10 years later in 2016 entitled “Aluminum Panel Corrosion” that superseded the 2006 bulletin by expanding the affected models and years.
But the plaintiffs allege internal communications show that during the previous 10 years Ford knew the repaired body panels showed signs of corrosion seven to eight months after the repairs were made.
Ford sent another TSB (17-0062) in August 2017 that again expanded the models and years previously included in the other bulletins, but the 2017 TSB told technicians to replace the body panels instead of trying to sand and repaint the corroded areas.
According to the lawsuit, Ford replaced the steel body panels with aluminum panels to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency knowing the aluminum was affected by iron particles that caused bubbling and peeling paint.
Ford representatives allegedly testified in a court case that earlier Mustang models suffered from corrosion problems, and despite Ford studying the defects for years, the automaker had never seen aluminum body panels perforate.
The plaintiffs claim this is further evidence that Ford's extended warranty is bogus because it requires perforation of the aluminum panels.
Although Ford allegedly knew the bubbling paint extended warranty was meaningless, Ford concealed this information from consumers while the automaker continued to deny warranty coverage.
The Ford bubbling paint lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida - Simmons, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.