Nova Scotia

Peeling paint on your white Toyota? Help may be on the way

Toyota Canada says it will follow Toyota USA's lead and implement a program to repair peeling paint on some white vehicles.

Toyota Canada says it will implement a program to repair some vehicles, customers will be notified by mail

Aisha Alam's six-year-old son was the first to notice the paint peeling on her 2013 RAV4 with white 'blizzard pearl' paint in June. (Submitted by Kendra Foerster)

Peeling paint has plagued some Toyota owners, and now the automaker says it will do something about it.

But just what it will do is not yet clear.

Toyota Canada told CBC News this week it plans to follow the lead of Toyota USA, which is offering a "voluntary customer support program" for owners of affected vehicles. 

"We will be launching a similar support program for impacted customers in Canada," Toyota Canada spokesperson David Shum said in an email.

Shum provided no other details, but said that once the program is ready, owners of all affected vehicles will be notified by mail. 

The Toyota USA notification went out recently to affected owners in that country.

Vehicles with white paint affected

The company acted in response to reports of peeling paint on certain vehicles with the original factory-applied "blizzard pearl" or "super white" paint colours.

"These reports indicate that vehicles with these specific paint colours, applied during the vehicle manufacturing process, may experience paint peeling on exterior metal body parts,"  the notice said.

It said the problem may occur "when sunlight over time degrades the adhesion between the factory-applied paint primer coat layer and the base metal electrodeposition layer causing the paint to peel from the metal body panel."

Owners anxious for details

Rachel Mosley, who lives in Prospect, N.S., was the first to bring the story to CBC's attention. Her 2011 RAV4 had small paint peeling spots that continued to grow.

"I'm not able to wash the vehicle because as soon as I wash it then the paint comes off," she said in September 2018.

She complained to Toyota, but like others, was told the warranty on her vehicle had expired.

Rachel Mosley's 2011 RAV4 has peeling paint on a front side panel and on the gas cap. (Robert Guertin/CBC)
 

Mosley is pleased Toyota is finally taking responsibility and said she's looking forward to the details of the program.

Aisha Alam's six-year-old son was the first to notice the paint peeling on her 2013 RAV4 with white "blizzard pearl" paint in June.

"He said 'Mom, your car is broken,'" said Alam, who lives in Kitchener, Ont.

It was then she noticed that the paint had come off on the driver's side of the vehicle.

"It's a lot worse now," she said. "There's a huge chunk of paint now missing on the sunroof and there's random places all over where it's just starting to chip."

'Repaint it properly'

Alam said she spoke with several Toyota representatives and dealerships, and was told by a representative earlier this week that she could "possibly" get 50 per cent of the cost of repairing her vehicle.

But she said that was not acceptable.

She's relieved to hear that Toyota will be doing something, and made a suggestion as to what that should be.

"Toyota should take the whole car and repaint it properly," she said, noting the problem is not caused by owners and the peeling isn't isolated to just one area.

Neither Toyota Canada nor Toyota USA has released details of the program.

The mailout to affected customers doesn't say whether vehicles will be completely repainted, whether Toyota will pay the entire bill, or exactly what years and models with the specified white paint will be covered.

This letter was sent to American Toyota owners by the company. (Submitted)

It does reference those who previously paid for their own repairs and outlines a process for those customers to be reimbursed, but it doesn't say whether they will get all of their money back or just some of it.

George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association ⁠— a consumer advocacy group ⁠— said he is pleased and surprised to hear Toyota Canada plans to repair the vehicles.

"What we would like to see is lifetime coverage but a one-time repair," he said. "You come in, we look at your vehicle no matter how old it is and we fix it in those areas that one time."

He said he expects Toyota to pay 100 per cent of the cost to repair damaged areas.

Iny said that because many of the affected vehicles are older, it's important for owners to update their contact information by either going into a dealership or calling Toyota Canada.

About the Author

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days, she's focused on helping consumers get the most bang for their bucks and avoid being ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca.

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