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  • By Jordan W. Charness

    You’ve got to admit that the auto manufacturers are building cars better these days than they used to. They are more fuel-efficient and even the big SUVs use less gasoline than the big block V8s of yesteryear. Computer technology has been incorporated into vehicles to such an extent that fuel air and detonation mixtures are carefully controlled by onboard computers so as to deliver the most bang for your buck. Safety features are computer-controlled as are many of the moving parts in your car.

    Even non-moving parts of our vehicles benefit from the latest technology. Once upon a time it was common to see rust buckets driving down our streets seemingly held together by nothing more than random bits of steel. Nowadays this once-common sight is rare even in our often harsh climate.

    Most new cars today come with a multiyear warranty against rust perforation and vehicle manufacturers don’t even recommend aftermarket rustproofing for at least the first few years. However, the legal protection of the warranty does not guarantee that the manufacturer will supply you with a car that will remain totally free of rust for the first several years.

    Most new cars are guaranteed against “rust perforation” which is usually defined as rust causing a hole in your car. Little bits of surface rust are not covered by this warranty unless and until the rust spreads enough so as to make a hole right through your car’s body.

    Rust itself is not an instant phenomenon. It’s a slow corrosive process that progresses over several weeks and months steadily growing worse unless stopped by the built-in rust protection of your new car or by add-on aftermarket rustproofing. But what happens if a little bit of rust turns into a whole lot more rust?

    Let’s take what happened to Harry. His new car came with a five-year warranty against rust perforation. Around the middle of year five he noticed some surface rust near the roof line of his vehicle. He took it back to the dealer who advised him that this was just surface rust and was not covered by warranty. He had the dealer’s body shop scrape down and repair the surface rust and repaint that section of the car. Of course he footed the bill.

    In the middle of year six, spring arrived and so did the rust but this time with a vengeance. In the same exact spot, rust had blossomed and actually caused a quarter sized perforation in the car’s exoskeleton.

    Harry took it back to the dealer fearing the worst. The dealer pointed out that because of the placement of the rust it would be necessary to replace the entire roof of the car at a cost of about $3,500! Needless to say the warranty had expired and the work was not technically covered.

    Harry had been faithfully dealing with the same dealership for many year. He brought to their attention the fact that he had already had the rust repaired during the warranty period. It seemed to him that this was sort of a continuation of the original rust.

    Rust repairs, however, do not come with a five-year warranty and the original manufacturer’s warranty against rust perforation had indeed expired. Nonetheless this dealership went the extra mile and pleaded his case with the manufacturer. The manufacturer agreed to cover one half of the cost of the repair and the dealership covered an additional one quarter leaving a very satisfied Harry with a $3,500 repair job that cost him only $750. Although neither the manufacturer nor the dealer were legally required to go beyond the letter of the warranty, a goodwill gesture to a good customer can certainly go a very long way.

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