Mazda Rust Warranty

Q - When is 5 years not 5 years?

A - When it's your Mazda corrosion warranty.

Update 2/26: I added some pictures to my Flickr account, for those who want to see. The Driver's rear door is the one getting fixed.

Today, 2/25/2011, marks the end of my 5 year Mazda corrosion warranty and today it goes in to have 1 of 3 rusty doors repaired. I'm grateful that I'm getting one fixed, but very frustrated with the process and wonder why the other two didn't qualify.

The Mazda rust warranty, like most I think, only covers 'perforation'. On the face of it, that would seem easy to identify, if there's a hole or not. But in practice it's not always that easy to see. The metal might be perforated but the paint still intact, but bubbled. The perforation might be hiding behind trim or overlapping panels might make it hard to see.

My car has rust mainly in 3 of the 4 doors on the bottom edges, inside where the outer skin and the door frame meet. There is also rust in the driver's side rear quarter panel. As my warranty was coming to a close soon, I contacted the nearest Mazda dealer, Byers Mazda, last week to have it evaluated. That's when the drama began.

As soon as it became clear the time frame involved, the service manager became quite agitated. Evidently, the regional Mazda rep has to make the evaluation and determination on rust issues and he was just there in the last week or two and wasn't due back until April. Without his evaluation, there was nothing they could do and pictures aren't generally acceptable. (That's understandable, they don't always tell the entire story.) Once the 5 years expire, there's nothing that can be done, period.

So, because he had already been and gone, I may be out of luck. I told him that there was no way I could have known his schedule (nor that he was required to see the car), and that there was clearly rust and I was clearly still within the 5 years, so I had no reason to doubt my coverage, which now seemed to be in jeopardy. He said something like "Yes, but this didn't just happen." a phrase he'd repeat many times over the coming days. We agreed that I would bring the car in on Friday AM, he would take some pictures and send them to the rep and we'd go from there.

The rep reponded and agreed to cover one of the rear doors, but there was another catch: The car had to be at the body shop, and work started by Friday (today) or the coverage would expire. Again, there was no way I could have known that not only did the evaluation had to be done prior to the warranty end, by the regional rep who only comes every 6-8 weeks, the repair had to begin prior to the end of the warranty. I mentioned this to the manager and he responded, "Yes, but this didn't just happen."

When I asked why that one and not the others, all he could say was it was the only one that showed perforation. To me, they all show the same symptoms - obvious rust, cracking and separation/splitting. I asked for the rep's contact number or to receive a call from him to talk about it, and he gave me the general customer service number for Mazda, but with an ominous, slightly threatening warning: He said that if I contacted Mazda (this was yesterday) and they open a case, then things may change. I asked if they would revoke the coverage already granted and he said maybe or they may insist that the rep see the car which would go beyond the warranty and the coverage would expire. Again he said, "If you had come to your dealer sooner ..."

At this point, I'm pretty ticked off and I want to call the corporate office, but I don't want to jeopardize the coverage I've already been granted. The dealer has been doing as little as possible and blaming the inability to resolve this on my procrastination. Frankly, I don't think matters one bit, five years is five years, and to mention it is frankly insulting and condescending. So, do I call or not? All this time, I've been tweeting about details of this, including the @MazdaUSA twitter account when I did. I had gotten no response until yesterday afternoon, after pointing out how fast GM responded when they thought my issues were with the Chevy dealer (my Saturn had warranty work this week too), I got a message from Mazda asking form my contact info. I gave it and received a call from them yesterday evening. He expressed sympathy, but he too seemed to have an urgency to get resolution before today's blasted, arbitrary deadline. I'm supposed to get a call from the rep today, but as of 1:15 PM, I haven't.

All of this could have been avoided. The bottom line here is that your 5 year warranty isn't really 5 years, in my opinion. Because the car has to be evaluated by a rep who only comes by every few weeks and the repairs have to begin prior to the end of the warranty, you really need to get the car in probably 2 months before the end if you want to be sure that he's able to see your car. Simply communicating this in the warranty documentation would help, but really that only covers Mazda's behind on what is, frankly, poor policy.

The real solution here is to honor claims brought into the dealer up until the final hour. There's no reason this could not have been evaluated and repaired after the expiration of the warranty, as long as the original claim was made within the warranty period. As it is, the 5 years is an illusion, it's effectively only 4 years and 10 months.

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5 Comments

I agree. Not a very good policy or customer service. From remembrance Byers is pretty decent as compared to other there.

My truck is rusting through on the wheel wells. Good thing I don't have any warranty to worry about. :)

I bought a 3 year old Mazda from a mainline dealer here in the UK about 5 months ago and after roughly 6 weeks of ownership I discovered a line of rust along the bottom of the rear driver's side passenger door on the inside, so I took it to a Mazda dealer closer to my home who examined the car and concluded it needed four new doors, since the other doors also had bubbles under the paintwork emerging in the same place. This was also confirmed by a local independent specialist.

At time of writing after 2 months of delays it looks very much like Mazda has no interest in dealing with this and they are trying to walk away from the problem, even though we have a 12 year corrosion warranty here in the UK. The original dealer has also said they are unwilling to help, so I took the step of contacting a lawyer a few days ago to see what can be done, since I really don't see why I should be landed with a huge bill for repairing something that clearly points to a manufacturing defect.

On a side note I happen to know somebody who works as a mechanic for a local Ford/Mazda dealer and he told me they do everything possible to avoid doing any kind of warranty repair work where corrosion has occurred. All along it has felt like Mazda and the original dealer have been deliberately moving as slowly as possible, while just hoping that I would go away somehow.

All of this is a real pity because it's actually a nice car to drive but having read your own experience it does make me question if Mazda has a widespread problem here with rust on the doors but more than that I have lost all faith in dealing with Mazda customer service. I'll go back to Toyota next time I think.

Heard from Mazda UK today who say will not be honouring the warranty because they say it must have been present when I bought the car. Mazda rust warranties are not worth the paper they are written on...

Perforation warranties are generally difficult to collect on. Even poorly protected cars don't generally develop perforation before 5 years, particularly perforation that is easy to see. I was frankly surprised that I got coverage on that one door.

Mazdas do seem to rust faster than other cars. My 11 year old 200K mile Honda Odyssey had less rust that my Mazda does now at 5 years and about 90K. My old Ford Escort (in the US it shared a platform with the Mazda Protege) was falling apart under me when I gave it away at 13 years old and 184K miles.

Another factor is if the corrosion warranty is transferable. As the original owner it wasn't an issue for me, but since you bought yours used it would be. Then again, the argument they gave you wasn't that you weren't the original owner but that it must have already been there when you bought it. Not sure how that matters.

It's unfortunate that Mazda seems to like to point their fingers at the owners on this stuff. I waited too long to bring it in, didn't have the proper dealer inspections, etc. and you didn't find it before you bought it.

My Mazda has covered less than 18k miles and was purchased just a few months ago as a used approved Mazda originally located through Mazda's own website. That warranty means Mazda have agreed the car passes all the requirements for a warranty to be applied and yet now they are still intending to walk away from this.

You are in Canada and I am in the UK, however we both have relatively new cars with the exact same fault appearing on all four doors which makes me think this is a likely to be a major design/manufacturing defect that Mazda is running away from. More people should be made aware of this...

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  • My Mazda has covered less than 18k miles and was purchased just a few months ago as a used approved Mazda originally located through Mazda's own website. That warranty means Mazda have agreed the car passes all the requi...

    Richard Simms
    Mazda Rust Warranty
  • Perforation warranties are generally difficult to collect on. Even poorly protected cars don't generally develop perforation before 5 years, particularly perforation that is easy to see. I was frankly surprised that I ...

  • Heard from Mazda UK today who say will not be honouring the warranty because they say it must have been present when I bought the car. Mazda rust warranties are not worth the paper they are written on... ...

    Richard Simms
    Mazda Rust Warranty
  • I bought a 3 year old Mazda from a mainline dealer here in the UK about 5 months ago and after roughly 6 weeks of ownership I discovered a line of rust along the bottom of the rear driver's side passenger door on the ins...

    Richard Simms
    Mazda Rust Warranty
  • I agree. Not a very good policy or customer service. From remembrance Byers is pretty decent as compared to other there. My truck is rusting through on the wheel wells. Good thing I don't have any warranty to worry a...

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