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Can you sue if ‘guaranteed’ rustproofing didn’t work?

Published December 27, 2013
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Q: In 1999, I purchased a new Intrigue and had it rustproofed by Pro-Tech Seal, which had a lifetime warranty. As per the guarantee, every two years I had the car inspected by the dealer and the inspection report was forwarded by them to Pro-Tech Seal.

Now, the seams at the bottom of the front doors, and the rocker panel, are rusting.

Pro-Tech Seal claims that these areas of the car are not covered by the guarantee. I disagree. The “terms and conditions” of my contract do not exclude these areas.

Can you advise me what my options are in pursuing the guarantee?

Mohamed Bouchama, consultant for the non-profit consumer group Car Help Canada.com, replies:

If the contract does not mention any exclusions, I would definitely consider the option of suing the company. I would advise the consumer to get two different estimates for repairs and send a letter to the company advising that if they refuse to pay for the costs of repairs (as per their stated lifetime warranty), he or she will consider a legal action against the company.

Whoever is giving the estimates should decide whether (in their professional opinion) the damage they are inspecting is covered by the warranty.

Eric Lai adds:

Pro-Tech Seal, with headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta, was invited to comment, but did not reply.

This product is often sold as a dealer add-on, which defeats the common myth that aftermarket treatments void the new car rust warranty.

In general, automaker rust warranties typically cover rust perforation only. That is, rust must actually create a hole to be eligible for warranty consideration and, for all intents and purposes, must come from the inside out. Rust originating from a surface scratch or ding to the paint caused by a collision, road debris, etc. isn’t covered.

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