Dozens of Ford vehicle owners fed up with flaking paint problems

More angry Ford Escape owners have come forward after the CBC I-Team looked into a flaking paint problem plaguing the SUV, and it turns out the problem may not be limited to the Escape.

Ford isn't addressing a flaking paint problem on their vehicles, Winnipeg drivers say

More angry Ford Escape owners have come forward after the CBC I-Team looked into a flaking paint problem plaguing the SUV, and it turns out the problem may not be limited to the Escape. 3:07

More angry Ford Escape owners have come forward after the CBC I-Team looked into a flaking paint problem plaguing the SUV, and it turns out the problem may not be limited to the Escape.

Hours after the I-Team posted this story Thursday morning, Ford Canada issued an invitation on Twitter to customers experiencing paint problems. 

In the tweet, Ford Canada encouraged customers to direct message the company at @FordServiceCA with their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), phone number and the names of dealerships involved. The company said it would look into what resources are available.  The tweet disappeared by noon Thursday.  
About 10 Ford Escape owners showed up to CBC after we reported problems with flaking paint on the vehicles. CBC heard from even more who had similar issues. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

In September, three Winnipeg Ford Escape owners told CBC they were frustrated with Ford's response to flaking paint and rust around the vehicle's rear wheel wells and the trunk hatch.  

The owners said their dealerships and Ford Canada refused to fix the problem. Two of the affected vehicles were 2012 models and the other was a 2008 Ford Escape.

After the story aired, more than two dozen Ford Escape owners in Winnipeg, Alberta and Quebec contacted the I-Team with similar complaints.  

A number of local owners pulled up into the CBC parking lot in Winnipeg to share their troubles. Ivy Purdy said she first noticed paint flaking off her 2012 Escape in June.

"We had just finished washing and polishing it, getting it ready to go out and noticed paint was peeling in the wheel wells," Purdy said.

She brought it into the dealer, but because its warranty period elapsed in April, the dealership said it couldn't help her.
2009 Ford Flex owner Dan Barry said a 12-inch curl in his blue paint has left it peeling away from the metal. "The whole roof is curled up," he said. "I am almost afraid to wash it because I don't want the paint flaking off." (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

"I love my Escape, but if they're not covering it, I'm never buying another Ford," Purdy said. "That's garbage. My whole vehicle is going to end up rusting out. I keep a vehicle for 12 years before I buy another one, and it doesn't look like I'll get to keep this one for 12 years."

2012 Escape owner Rick Walc had a similar tale.  

He noticed the problem earlier this year just as his car's warranty period expired.  

"There was an awful lot of rust in the wheel well peeling off, and it looked terrible," said Walc.

Walc took it into a body shop.  

"They're the ones that mentioned to me that it's a very common problem. They all do that, and they mentioned that there was going to be rust on the door in the inside panel,"  Walc said. "I opened the door, and the rust is pretty obvious."

Walc claims the dealership and Ford Canada vetoed his numerous appeals to have the problem fixed.

"I just told them that you've lost a Ford customer and it didn't seem to mean much to them." Walc said. " It's pretty disappointing."

That disappointment is shared by Purdy.

"I would have assumed that they would have jumped on the pump and made people happy," she said. "They should be fixing and it should be a recall. It really should be because everyone knows there's a problem."

Paint below specifications, chemical engineer says

Chemical engineer Stephen Gaiski with the Zestar Corporation in Detroit used to do work for the auto manufacturer.  He remembers visiting the Kansas City plant that builds the Escape a decade ago.

According to Gaiski, "Ford was using our technology for the metric, for the measurements on paint thickness, and we told the painting room manager and also the supplier — the paint supplier directly — that the Escapes were being painted below specifications."

Gaiski said he told the company and its board about his concerns paint was being applied too thinly to the vehicles. 

"They said they would address the issue. Well, here we are years later, and it still hasn't been done," he said.

Gaiski helps car owners challenge Ford and Ford dealerships in small claims court.  

He said it's unlikely anything larger —  such as a class action suit — would get results.

"If it's not a design or a safety issue, then I personally believe they're not going to have much luck," he said.

Escape may not be only vehicle affected

The Ford Escape may not be the only Ford vehicle affected by paint issues.

Brian Walker's 2009 Ford F-150 is shedding its paint along the side panel.

"I was waxing the vehicle, and there was a little bubble. I am being gentle with it, and it came right off in my hand," Walker said. "You spend $60,000 on a truck, and it just cracks? There has to be a problem."

"It's obviously a manufacturer's defect," Walker opined. "All I expect is for them to honour fixing it."

2008 Ford Flex owner Dan Barry also has a paint gripe with the company.  

"The whole roof is curled up," he said, pointing to a foot-long gash of blue paint peeling away from the metal. "I am almost afraid to wash it because I don't want the paint flaking off."

'Penny-wise but pound-foolish'

Gaiski reviewed images of the two cars. He concluded the The F-150's paint was too thin, and the Ford Flex's paint was too thick.

The I-Team asked Ford Canada for an interview about the issue.  

Instead, the company released a statement saying, "There are many potential causes of paint damage on a vehicle, including but not limited to environmental factors and impacts to the vehicle from stones or other road debris."

Ford also repeated what it told CBC in September — that it takes feedback from its customers seriously and will continue to a respond to concerns on a case-by-case basis.

Gaiski doesn't believe that is good enough.

"The sad thing is, when a consumer buys a Ford, they like Ford. They like the product."  he said.  

He believes because the company isn't acknowledging a larger problem, it is losing customers.

"They're being penny-wise but pound-foolish," said Gaiski.


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