Q: Recently, I had some body work done on my 2005 Ford Freestyle. The technician pointed out the paint bubbling on the hood and said that he’d had a similar problem with a car he owned. He said it looked like a factory defect and that I might be able to get the hood repaired courtesy of Ford. I did some searching on the Internet and found some TSBs relating to paint problems with the Explorer, but nothing about the Freestyle. Apparently, the hood is aluminum (or aluminum-coated), and the paint bubbling is due to some chemical interaction or other. We love the car and would like to get this paint problem fixed. I’ve been quoted various prices for repainting the hood, from $1,500-ish to just fix the paint bubbles to $4,000 to replace the entire hood. Can you help out here?
You are not alone in your problem with the ’05 Ford Freestyle paint-bubbling problem. I would go back to the dealer you purchased the vehicle from, see the service manager, and ask to have a case opened and a case number assigned. The next step is to request a meeting with a Ford factory representative. The reason why I am sending you back to the selling dealer is because that dealer made the profits on the sale, and that dealer also wants you back in the showroom when you are ready to purchase a new Ford. If the Ford dealer rep won’t do anything to help, keep checking the Internet for a class-action lawsuit and make sure you join it. There is no sense reporting this to NHTSA because it is not a safety issue. A smart dealer will step up to the plate if the Ford rep won’t. A few ideas the dealer may entertain would be to repaint the hood at a highly discounted price, or even to offer you a very generous trade-in price to replace the vehicle with one that is more of your liking.
Q: My daughter has an 2003 Acura RSX with 57,000 miles. She bought it in 2009 with 47,000 miles on it from a dealer I know very well in New Hampshire. The car hit a tree when it had about 26,000 miles. The dealer bought it off the customer and repaired the vehicle. In fact, the dealer’s daughter drove the car until we purchased it. During the latter part of 2009, we had a check engine light for the emissions control for the gas tank. We had that fixed. In 2010, we had another check engine light, this time for the oxygen sensors. We had that fixed. Our latest problem is the Safety Restraint System warning light. The local shop I use does not know whether it is an air-bag problem or a seat-belt retractor problem. I don’t want to go to the local dealer due to the high dealer prices. Do you have any thoughts on this problem?
A visit to a good repair shop with good diagnostic equipment and ASE-certified diagnosticians is exactly what you are looking for. There are reports of this car having failed connectors under the seat, causing the SRS light to illuminate. So you don’t need the dealer, you just need to find a good shop in your area, and the fix may be much less than you think.
Car Care Tip:
Building a relationship with a good auto repair shop and showing a loyalty to that shop will definitely pay off in the long run.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.