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.

Visitor comments
Posted by Loopy6681, Sat 7 Sep 2013 11:07 am
Hiya, I have just had same problem with my golf, both front wheel arches have bubbled and near side has started to peel. I was in the middle of searching for new wings when I stumbled across your forum. I hope you don't mind me picking your brains as asking what may be obvious questions! Who did you contact to get yours repaired under warranty? Did you go via your vw dealer? I am no longer a regular customer and use my local garage for servicing after my local vw garage charged me £90 to press the service reset button which took 30 seconds and was done right in front of me, I was slightly unamused! Any advice on the process of getting this work done under warranty gratefully received :)
Posted by StuartDalby, Sat 7 Sep 2013 11:37 am
Just go to any VW dealer and tell them about the problem and that you believe it is a known issue with the car and should be covered under the 12 year bodywork warranty. You could even print off a copy of the repair guide linked to from above if you need some evidence.

As I mention above, they may only offer to cover 70% of the repair cost if you have not been a regular customer. If I was in this position I would query why a warranty repair should be affected by whether I am a regular customer or not.

Let us know how you get on,
Posted by jacquifoley2012, Sat 11 Jan 2014 12:23 pm
Having just spotted rust on my O/S arch I approached VW in Huddersfield for inspection. This is there response :

"As we discussed your Warranty claim for corrosion on your O/S/F Wing has been returned with 50% Factory Goodwill available,

This is due to the defect being caused by a foam pad that sits within your wheel arch liner causing the protective coatings to be worn away, resulting in the wing eventually corroding over time,

This is classed as a mechanical defect which is usually covered for the first three years of the cars life, therefore being classed as a goodwill claim now,"

Just wondering if anyone has had recent experience ? My car is 54 plate and although the other side is showing start of problems he says that the paint is too thick and therefore its been resprayed or changed since factory. Im not sure this is correct either but wont be settling for 50%. Very nice chap says next step is to contact customer care. I know its going to be a fight to get them to pay up!

Posted by StuartDalby, Sat 11 Jan 2014 1:13 pm
I certainly would contact VW Customer Services next. The dealer is unlikely to change their mind on their own. I recommend you write a letter, keep calm, state the facts and put the onus on them to explain why you should be liable for something which is a known problem and has not been caused by any fault of your own.

It may be that the N/S/F wheel arch has been resprayed whether in an attempt to fix this problem previously or for some other reason. However, this fault always affects both sides. Therefore, if they have accepted that the fault exists on the O/S then it is almost certain that the fault either has or still does exist on the N/S. Both sides need to be checked/repaired and I would expect this to be covered 100% by the 12 year bodywork warranty.

Please let me know how you get on,
Posted by jacquifoley2012, Fri 24 Jan 2014 8:57 pm
I decided to call customer service to see what / how they could help. Having explained I had been offered 50% they confirmed that even though my car had 'loads of service history' as it was a 'mechanical defect' all the help would only be as a gesture of goodwill and there was no way customer service would be able to make the dealer pay more. The person i spoke to mentioned that in some cases they can make up the difference but as the dealer was only offering 'a gesture' then they wouldnt. ...he did say that if I had gone to the dealer in sheffield (where the car had previously been serviced ) I may have had a better response than the local dealership i had chosen?? this didnt seem fair.

Things have become busy this last couple of weeks but I will be back on the case again next week. First port of call sheffield dealership. I still dont see how they can class this as a mechanical fault
Posted by Rogerhp, Sun 22 Mar 2015 5:47 pm
Are you sure that petrol are not affected. Mine is a 2006 gti petrol?
Posted by StuartDalby, Mon 23 Mar 2015 9:01 am
This is a known problem with diesel-engined cars and so Volkswagen dealers are quick to identify and fix it under warranty.

However this doesn't mean a petrol-engined car couldn't also have similar rust and if you can convince your VW dealer that this hasn't been caused by something you or a previous owner has done, then it should also be covered under Volkswagen's 12 year bodywork warranty.

Hope that helps,
Posted by coconutsaregood, Tue 14 Apr 2015 6:53 pm
message to Stuart: where do you generally keep your car at home on the drive or garage? Don't worry I am not planning to steal it! I was just wondering if there is any connection with keeping cars in enclosed spaces and corrosion.

Posted by StuartDalby, Tue 14 Apr 2015 7:13 pm
It's usually outside on the driveway but a few nights over winter I'll put it in the garage.

I know what you are saying. Repeatedly putting a wet car into an enclosed garage overnight I imagine is the ideal breeding ground for corrosion. That said, I don't think it is unreasonable for a car owner to want to do this and Volkswagen's 12 year bodywork warranty doesn't say anything about doing so invalidating their warranty.

Hope that helps,
Posted by coconutsaregood, Tue 14 Apr 2015 8:18 pm
Good point and I totally agree. I keep mine on the drive too, not by choice. I have the usual "micro garage" too narrow and is more a workshop. It seems your issues with coil springs and body parts could be down to the road salt, especially when I consider the amount of motorway (well salted) mileage I gather you have done in the past.

My GTi mark V is showing the same wing problem on near-side.

On the subject of coil springs. Mine has just failed it's MOT on its first coil spring failure after 112k miles. It needs a new front off-side spring, so I am weighing up if to have more of them done as a preventative maintenance.

thanks for the info.

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