What to do if Volkswagen won't honour its 12-year rust warranty - MoneySense

What to do if Volkswagen won’t honour its 12-year rust warranty

Pelle’s claims for corrosion coverage for his Jetta have been denied. Here’s what he should do next.



Q. I would like to know more about the 12-year corrosion warranty from Volkswagen. The dealer says the corrosion on the roof of my Jetta is due to damage to the finish caused by the glass installer who replaced the windshield. He says that rust on the fenders is caused by stone chips. Can you provide some details on what I can expect to have covered?

– Pelle,  Trois Rivières, Québec

A. Volkswagen offers an industry leading 12-year warranty for corrosion; coverage was reduced to 7 years in 2018, which is still noteworthy for a mass-market brand. However VW “throttles” warranty coverage. This practice may have been aggravated by penny-pinching in the aftermath of the massive payouts VW made to owners of diesel vehicles for emissions cheating.

The Jetta is rather rust-resistant. Sensitive areas to monitor on the Jetta include the front corners of the roof, the junction of the fenders at the rear bumper and the trunk lid above the license plate. Corrosion first becomes noticeable after the sixth year on the road in Ontario, Quebec and Eastern Canada where the roads are wet and salted in winter.

Owners report that dealers sometimes improvise excuses to deny coverage. VW dealers often use the same installers consumers do for their glass repairs, but they will reject a subsequent claim if the windshield replacement wasn’t arranged through them. Some owners report that rust repairs are covered only partially; the automaker accepts to repair some panels but not others, or offers to split the cost of the repair. One owner reported that his claim was rejected due to a colour mismatch even though he had never repainted the car! And it can take months for a VW representative to inspect a vehicle and then several months more to schedule the repair.

An important first step when bringing a rust claim to the attention of a manufacturer is to have it recorded. Wash the vehicle and take photos of the damaged areas. Book an appointment with the dealership’s service department for inspection and make sure the service writer enters a specific mention of rust and the areas concerned, as opposed to a more generic “Inspect car” or “Check for rust,” which could be open to interpretation later on. Some dealers don’t provide copies of work orders for no-charge repairs or warranty inspections; ask for a copy.

If the dealer is unable to obtain the necessary approval and you are certain the corrosion concerns an original panel, it is time to escalate. If you are able to, ask a local body shop to evaluate the cause of the damage and prepare an estimate (the Automobile Protection Association may be able to refer you to an expert if you are in Greater Toronto or Montreal). Write the automaker a demand letter and request an inspection by their representative, and follow up with a call to their customer service department. Scheduling a meeting with a manufacturer’s representative could take three months. If the claim is approved you will need to schedule the repair, which can take a further three to six months, and may be sublet by the VW dealer to a local collision repair shop. Many owners just give up, but it’s worth being persistent.