How Long Should Your Car's Paint Job Last?

Some drivers have reported bubbling and peeling paint on relatively new vehicles.

After spending thousands — even tens of thousands — of dollars on a new car, you expect the paint to last. But some drivers are discovering that’s not always the case.

Adell Meyer waited for years to drive home her bright blue 2012 Nissan Frontier Truck.

"I'm 55 years old, this is my first brand-new vehicle," she said.

But just three years later, her $20,000 truck doesn’t look so new anymore: the paint has begun bubbling and peeling before her eyes.

"I had the reaction of 'Oh my God, this is my truck, and why is it doing that?'" she said.

Meyer took the truck to the dealership where she’d purchased it, and spoke to the manager.

"She said 'There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s under warranty, and the warranty expired as of a month ago,'" she explained.

So she took her complaint to the NBC4 I-Team, and we consulted an expert.

“[A factory paint job should last] forever. As long as the car is on the road,” said Eric Simonian, owner of City of Stars Collision Center in Los Angeles.

But an online search turned up dozens of complaints about paint job failures, submitted by owners of Nissans, Toyotas, Fords, as well as other makes and models.

"The primary motivation of the manufacturer is to have the cheapest possible paint on the car that will last as long as it can," said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group that tracks complaints about cars. "But sometimes, they make mistakes. And what we want them to do is just stand behind their mistakes."

In Meyer’s case, Nissan did just that: after the I-Team got involved, the carmaker offered her a new paint job, free of charge, as a "goodwill reimbursement."

But, a Nissan spokesman added, "It is not reasonable to expect Nissan or any other auto manufacturer to be responsible for warranting all aspects of a vehicle for an interminable period of time."

Meyer says she’s satisfied — sort of.

"The things I had to go through, just to get to it. It’s crazy," she said. "Just back up your own product. That’s the only way I can think of it."

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