Front Wing Rust Warranty Repair

139,500 miles, 11th October 2012

Just over a year ago I started to hear about a problem with diesel engined Mk Vs only (petrol engined cars are not affected) with rust appearing on the front wings at the top of the wheel arch. I found online a copy of a VW repair guide [1 MB PDF]. It describes rust on the front wing caused by a foam pad fitted between the wing and wheel arch liner, holding moisture against the wing causing it to rust. First thing you notice is the paint bubbling on your wing but by this point it is too late to repair as the rust has already worked its way through from the other side.

Photo taken from VW repair guide [1MB PDF]
showing area most prone to rust.

Upon learning this, I checked my car’s wings and fortunately my car did not look to be affected. I did consider removing the wheel arch liners to double check from the inside and perhaps carry out the relatively simple repair described in the VW repair guide. However, I decided to leave it thinking that a bodged repair carried out by myself might complicate any warranty claim against VW in the future.

Roll on one year and whilst washing my car, I spotted the dreaded bubbling paint on both front wings at the top of the wheel arch. There was also a small area of bubbling paintwork on one of the front door sills where it meets the bottom of the wing.

Around the same time, I had been hearing on the internet forums about other people who had experienced this problem having trouble getting their local VW dealer to carry out the repair free-of-charge under Volkswagen's standard 12 month anti-corrosion warranty. I thought this should be a pretty straight-forward warranty claim as 1) it appeared to be a problem known to VW, 2) there appeared to be an official VW repair guide, and 3) there appeared to be nothing an owner could have done to prevent this problem occurring.

With this info in mind, I emailed my local VW dealer and told them I had found rust on the front wings that I believed would be covered under VW’s 12 year anti-corrosion warranty and how should I go about getting it repaired. Their reply was short and to the point. I would need to book my car in for 3 days for the repair. No further information or inspection required!

So a couple of weeks later I got my car back after the repair with two new wings and two new front door sills*. It looked like a perfect repair – as I should expect. It looked as good as new.

I mentioned that I was surprised that they hadn’t needed to inspect the car before agreeing to carry out the work under warranty but they said that this was a known fault and knew it would be covered under warranty. But apparently they only get 70% of the cost of the repair from Volkwagen UK with the remainder coming from “Customer Services” whatever that means. I assume this means the remaining 30% is paid for by the local dealer in an attempt to keep me, as a regular customer, happy. This might explain why I have heard of other Mk V owners, who are not regular customers of a VW dealer having difficulty getting 100% of the cost of the repair covered under the warranty. I don’t think this is right as this problem is clearly a fault with the car and not caused by anything the owner could have done or not done, no matter where they have had their car serviced.

Rust on driver's side sill. Click for larger photo.

* Update: 146,000 miles, 22nd July 2013

Maybe I didn't check the car fully after the initial rust repair but about a month back I spotted surface rust on the top of both driver and passenger side sills just below the bottom of each wing. I can't believe this rust only appeared within the last 7 months and so can only assume that they did not replace the sills when they replaced the wings during the inital repair.

Fortunately, when I mentioned to them that I had found rust here they again immediately said that they would need the car for 3 days and it would be repaired under warranty. I got the car back last Friday and the rust was gone. Shame it took them two attempts but fortunately I got a nice 2013 VW Jetta 2.0 TDI to drive around in for 3 days.

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