DEAR CAR TALK: I purchased a new 2012 Toyota RAV4 with the V6 engine and the premium Blizzard Pearl white paint. It now has 53,000 miles on it and runs well. The problem is that the paint is literally blowing off.

About a month ago, I looked out the window of my house and noticed something fluttering on the roof of the vehicle. It was a sheet of the paint, which by the end of the day had blown off completely.

A week later, I noticed a small paint bubble on the driver’s rear quarter panel. Apparently, wind and water worked their way under it, and last week a sheet of paint about 12 inches square blew off, too.

I think they call this “paint delamination.” I call it a major defect.

Looking around on the Internet, it seems this is a frequent problem, and contacting Toyota has been fruitless.

Is this something I can spot-fix or must the entire car be stripped and repainted?

It is difficult to justify a $2,000 paint job on a car worth $10,000. Any advice would be appreciated. – Gordon

RAY: There’s been a veritable blizzard of complaints about this Blizzard Pearl white paint, Gordon. In my opinion, this is, without question, a manufacturing defect. For some technical reason, the paint didn’t adhere properly to the primer or the base metal.

And we’ve heard the same stories you have: that Toyota is giving lots of Blizzard Pearl customers the “mechanic’s shrug.”

That’s disappointing. I suggest you contact Toyota anyway, and give them a chance to do the right thing and fix your car, even though it’s no longer under warranty. The paint on a seven-year-old car shouldn’t be blowing off in the breeze.

If they stonewall you, then you can do what most of the other Blizzard Pearl owners are doing: Swear you’ll never buy another Toyota. Or you can put signs on your car that say “Another quality Toyota paint job that they refuse to fix,” and park it outside the dealership on Saturdays.

Most people give up in the face of corporate stonewalling. We can’t really blame them. It’s exhausting and frustrating to fight with a company that has more than enough resources to wear you down and outlast you.

So if they don’t help you, and you’re not up for a fight, then you have only two choices: Leave the car as is, or repaint it.

You can’t “touch it up.” The paint job has failed, and the car has to be stripped all the way down, primed, and completely repainted and clear-coated.

If you plan to keep the car for another three to five years (and with only 53,000 miles on it, it should go a lot longer than that), I’d say it’s worth a couple of thousand bucks to repaint the car, and stop hating it every time you look at it. It’ll also make it easier to sell when the time comes.

But before you do that, give Toyota a try. Don’t be belligerent – at least, not a first – but be firm. Tell them you’re really disappointed, you’ve taken good care of the car, and you’re aware that this is a defect.

Let them know that they haven’t lost you as a customer … yet.

Maybe they’ll meet you halfway, and agree to pay for half your paint job. And then double the price. Good luck, Gordon.

Got a question about cars? Email Car Talk’s Ray Magliozzi by visiting the Car Talk website, www.cartalk.com.


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