Automotive

Nova Scotia man denied Volkswagen rust warranty, takes VW to court and wins

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Feb 9, 2013
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Nova Scotia man denied Volkswagen rust warranty, takes VW to court and wins

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-sco ... ic8CsLXPiQ

Most people might be hesitant to take one of the world's biggest automakers to court. But not Nine Mile River, N.S., resident Ranulph Hudston, who persisted in his battle to have Volkswagen honour its 12-year corrosion warranty.

The retired educator wouldn't take no for an answer when his 2007 Jetta started rusting and the company denied his warranty claim. He decided to take Volkswagen to Nova Scotia small claims court, and earlier this month won a judgment of $7886.40 to pay for the repair costs.

"I was very surprised and very pleased," Hudston said of the court's Nov. 7 ruling. "As I read the decision, I saw a lot of what I put into the case coming back to me as the truth, and the truth coming through felt really good."

His win came despite a list from Volkswagen of possible causes for the corrosion on the Jetta's door sills and rocker panels, including tree sap, bird droppings, shoe buckles and an improperly stored seatbelt.

In her ruling, small claims adjudicator Shelly Martin didn't buy any of the excuses, saying she failed "to see how a seatbelt or footwear could affect the areas in question, as the site of corrosion is not easily in contact with footwear or a seatbelt."

The 12-year corrosion warranty was provided to Hudston when he bought the vehicle brand new in 2007. He first noticed rust on the left front fender when his Jetta was almost seven years old.

He went back to Hillcrest Volkswagen in Halifax, where he purchased the vehicle. He was then sent to a Volkswagen-authorized repair shop, which fixed most of the rusted areas and replaced the right quarter panel.


This photo, showing rust on the passenger-side door sill of his Jetta, was one of the exhibits Hudston submitted to small claims court in his case against Volkswagen Canada. (Ralph Hudston)
But three years later, in 2017, he noticed blistering paint and a small strip of paint peeling on the rocker panels, as well as blistering paint on the front door sills.

He took the Jetta to a body shop for repairs and was told the body work under the paint was rusting. He was advised the repairs should be covered under Volkswagen's warranty.

Hudston went back to Hillcrest, where he was told to fill out an online inspection request that included acceptance of additional terms and conditions that were not in the original warranty. One new clause said any decisions by Volkswagen were final, while another said repairs must be made "promptly."

Hudston was subsequently sent for a repair estimate where a technician told him any attempt to clean the rust on the door sill would likely "blow a hole right through it."

More than a month later, Hillcrest Volkswagen told him the repair would not be covered, saying the corrosion was not the type covered by his warranty. It also refused to cover the rocker panels.


This photo shows rust on the driver's side door sill on Hudston's Jetta. (Ranulph Hudston)
Hudston continued to push Volkswagen to pay for the repairs, but the company responded in an email: "We are unable to base our decisions on information received from independent shops and our decision remains unchanged."

It cited a number of reasons why the corrosion might have occurred — ranging from bird droppings, to rocks, to lack of rust proofing — and also suggested the problem was due to a general lack of maintenance.

But in her decision, Martin noted photos of the vehicle showed "an older but well cared for Jetta, stored in an impeccable clean garage."

The adjudicator said she was not convinced that any of the reasons provided by Volkswagen "were of sufficient magnitude in the location of the corrosion to be its cause." She also noted that three technicians that inspected the vehicle suggested it was corrosion covered under the warranty.

Bird droppings 'laughable'
George Iny, with the consumer advocacy group Automobile Protection Association, said he's not surprised by the potential causes cited by Volkswagen. He said automakers have a template for rust cases that includes 18 reasons why corrosion might have occurred.

"In many cases, they would just throw as many as they can and hope that one or two will stick. They really need only one for the judge to be convinced they are not responsible," he said.

He calls it "laughable" that Volkswagen would say bird droppings are responsible for the rust on vertical surfaces on the lower part of the car.

Iny said his organization has heard from dozens of Volkswagen owners who have had difficulty getting their corrosion warranties honoured. As a result, his group has posted tips on its website.

Iny noted Volkswagen last year reduced its warranty from 12 to seven years, which he said is still good coverage by industry standards.

"The impression we have is that they're applying that reduction retroactively and they're not supposed to do that," he said.

'They didn't want to hear from me'
A spokesperson for Volkswagen Canada, Thomas Tetzlaff, said the automaker takes all matters of quality very seriously and always honours the full terms of its warranties.

He said while the company respects the court's decision, it is now considering whether to appeal.

Iny said Hudston's case is a template for other Volkswagen owners facing rust problems. He said people can't go to court and simply say, "I have a warranty and my vehicle is rusting." He said vehicle owners need an expert or, at the very least, a report from an expert.

Hudston, who has owned numerous Volkswagens and thinks they're excellent cars, said it was the company's own actions that led him to continue his fight.

"They didn't seem to want to hear me. They, in fact, seemed to be stonewalling me and I guess that insulted me. I expect to be respected by the companies I buy products from," he said.
22 replies
Sr. Member
Oct 1, 2015
799 posts
970 upvotes
Barrie, ON
Good on him. Parents had a '09 TDI. While the engine was great the body was an absolute piece of garbage (Trunk, rockers, fenders all rusted). I'm glad they took the buyout.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
11654 posts
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Brampton
I'm happy anytime the little guy wins against these huge companies where they offer a warranty but always include BS clauses.
Deal Addict
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Oct 24, 2005
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Burlington
Good for him but it's almost guaranteed that they will appeal and drag it out forever - they will not want to set a precedent.
Deal Guru
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Oct 23, 2008
10978 posts
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GTA, ON
shoe buckles and an improperly stored seatbelt.
lol.....

Judge should have awarded extra to the plaintiff for the absurd VW defense wasting court's time.
Tis banana is IRIE :razz:

10% off is cold, 50% off is warm, 75% off is hot, but FREE IS RFD!
Deal Expert
Feb 29, 2008
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Montreal
So VWs 12 year corrosion warranty is meaningless when it comes time to collect. So much for "superior" German steel.
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Apr 21, 2004
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Tha_Doggg wrote: Good for him but it's almost guaranteed that they will appeal and drag it out forever - they will not want to set a precedent.
Will that do any good or more harm to VW's reputation?
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
alanbrenton wrote: Will that do any good or more harm to VW's reputation?
Can't be any worse than Dieselgate.
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Apr 21, 2004
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tebore wrote: Can't be any worse than Dieselgate.
We don't know what things are to come in the BEV world. :)
Sr. Member
Oct 1, 2015
799 posts
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Barrie, ON
mr_raider wrote: So VWs 12 year corrosion warranty is meaningless when it comes time to collect. So much for "superior" German steel.
Not really. I had a hatch replaced on a '05 wagon in 2016 without any issues, also fenders as well (Car had 400,000kms on it) It's like VW will replace certain things and not touch other things. It's kinda odd.
Sr. Member
May 2, 2017
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mr_raider wrote: So VWs 12 year corrosion warranty is meaningless when it comes time to collect. So much for "superior" German steel.
I personally had good experiences with it. Had a 01 Golf, had both front fenders and the passenger door replaced when it was about 10 years old. They didn't cover the rust around the door handle in the hatch, but the hatch had clearly been re-painted by the previous owner, so that was understandable.

On my Touareg I had the hatch replaced, there were a number of spots where rust was starting under the paint. They didn't cover another spot above the tail light where the paint had chipped off. I put some touch up paint on it.

No rust issues with my 11 Jetta or 13 Passat, but they got traded in pretty early (diesel buyback). Passat was about 5 years old when it was bought back.

So overall the rust warranty has been pretty good to me.
Sr. Member
Oct 20, 2010
533 posts
145 upvotes
maybe i should do the same to Honda, since my 2018 Accord is showing a rust spot in the trunk near the glass. Honda claims a rock chipped that, but miraculasly missed the glass...
If it wasnt a lease, i would make a bigger fuss.
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Aug 10, 2015
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Elgin, ON
That sounds like quite a pain to get that win.
Sr. Member
Oct 1, 2015
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Barrie, ON
bugsbunny01 wrote: maybe i should do the same to Honda, since my 2018 Accord is showing a rust spot in the trunk near the glass. Honda claims a rock chipped that, but miraculasly missed the glass...
If it wasnt a lease, i would make a bigger fuss.
Look at your roof right at the top of your windshield. Lots of rocks end up hitting that edge.. It's not magic.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
11654 posts
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Brampton
bugsbunny01 wrote: maybe i should do the same to Honda, since my 2018 Accord is showing a rust spot in the trunk near the glass. Honda claims a rock chipped that, but miraculasly missed the glass...
If it wasnt a lease, i would make a bigger fuss.
No one I know has ever had a successful claim against any of the Japanese automakers (Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan)

Usually lots of luck with MB > VAG rarely BMW

Coin toss for the domestics.

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