Unusual rusting in my 2019 Ciaz; Maruti refuses to own responsibility

Curious and a little alarmed, I inspected the whole car minutely. Interestingly, there is no other sign of rust anywhere else.

BHPian SS-Traveller recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Our Ciaz has been leading a sheltered life, with not much driving and nothing to report. In 4 years and 9 months, it has only done 31,6xx km. I personally clean the car when required, and when I do it, I also inspect the bodywork and engine bay at the same time.

Back in October 2023, I detected rust on the front right-hand door sill (running board) and under surface of the door. This was unusual, in that there has never been any accidental paint or metal damage, nor any repainting done to that area. And in all my experience of owning cars, I have not seen rusting occur in that area in many, many years, at least, not since the 1990s. (And no, the car has never been to any seaside or salt-laden area, nor been immersed in floodwaters).

Curious and a little alarmed, I inspected the whole car minutely. Interestingly, there is no other sign of rust anywhere else - the other doors and running board areas, underbody, gutters, bonnet- and boot lid rain channels, insides of the front and rear fenders (which often accumulate dust, mud and leaves, and show rust). Nothing - all clean.

So I took the car to Maruti Service Master (JJ Impex) Okhla, New Delhi at the end of October, to show them the problem. Their Bodyshop person had a close look at the damage, took some pictures (in fact, those are the same pictures I am sharing on the forum). And I was told that they would take it up with MSIL for warranty cover / manufacturing defect.

Some days later, after I sent an email as follow-up to my visit of 27 October, I received a call to bring the car over once again. This time, an alleged paint specialist from Axalta had a look, and took another set of photographs. One week later, I received a reply email from MSM Customer Care, saying that according to the paint expert's report, the rusting issue is not a manufacturing defect. Apparently, the rusting has occurred because the problem of rusting of metal has arisen due to moisture/water accumulation and hard water. Very insightful, I might say! The email also mentioned that Your car work will be done on payment basis.

I decided to escalate this issue upwards, and wrote...

Maruti is not taking into account that the location of the rust is unusual; no other car shows rusting and perforation in a single location like this (also please note that no other door or body panel is rusted in this car); and there is no reason for water or hard water to accumulate in that area. The car is not located in a coastal area with high salt, and nor has it drowned in flood water. Therefore, this is not a normal wear-and-tear issue. The onus is on Maruti to determine whether it is a manufacturing defect or painting fault, but it is certainly not due to customer's fault or normal usage.

Once again, I received a reply, this time from someone in MSIL (not MSM). It said that upon inspection, it is observed that the alleged rusting/corrosion on right front door and running board issue is due external cause or factor. There is no defect/abnormality attributed to manufacture which was observed in this regard. Again, very insightful!

Of course, the customer management rulebook says a customer must always be blamed for anything that goes wrong. So MSIL told me, For better upkeep of the vehicle and rust prevention, may please refer “Appearance Care” section in Owner’s Manual & Service Booklet. Moreover, the required repairs are outside the purview of extended warranty in terms of clause 3(i), and hence the said repairs need to be carried out on payment basis. Yeah, right, I really need lessons on car maintenance from a booklet.

Most people would have stopped following up at this stage. Not me - I'm a little pig-headed, I suppose. I still had a lot of faith by Maruti to do the right thing. So I escalated the issue to the top as a last resort.

I am finally starting to lose faith and confidence in MSIL products after having used Maruti vehicles since 1986, and I am writing to you as a last recourse, regarding the matter of unusual rusting of my Maruti Ciaz Alpha... Of the 6 Maruti vehicles I have used extensively over the last 37+ years, not one has ever had a corrosion problem, whether similar or in a different area, except this Ciaz, one of Maruti's most premium vehicles at the time of purchase.

In my verbal & written interactions with Maruti's service department over the last 3 weeks and more, I have been repeatedly blamed of faulty maintenance for the rusting issue, as elucidated in the attached photographs. Maruti have washed their hands of their responsibility, as is evident from the email trail below. While I understand that paint damage may well cause corrosion, there has been no such damage in the area in question. There is no rust in any other area of the body of the vehicle - not even on similar areas on other doors/panels. Nor have I seen any other vehicle of similar age showing rust in that area, amongst the multitude of cars I've inspected out of curiosity. This vehicle has been carefully used & driven by me alone, has done just 31,000+ km, and has never been exposed to seaside / salty atmosphere.

Mr. ... has pointed out that Clause 3(i) of the extended warranty does not cover paintwork, bodywork and mouldings, water entry into the vehicle, corrosion of body parts, glass, Mirrors (inner & outer), lock cylinder & key & interior trims. It therefore appears that Maruti is not committed to provide paintwork or bodywork of sufficiently durable quality, and the onus of blame is always passed on to the owner / user. OTOH, it is remarkable that Toyota, whom Maruti is closely associated with, checks for rust & paint deterioration in their 12+-year-old cars, as is evident here: (Toyota Etios 1.5L Petrol : An owner's point of view. EDIT: 10+ years and 100,000+ kms up!).

I therefore leave it to your esteemed decision about whether the said corrosion is user-induced or is a paint & metallurgical defect at manufacturing stage. I am not seeking a minor discount on paid repair which has been offered to please me (as communicated to me over phone); however, if you consider this to be a paint / metallurgical defect, the rectification of this corrosion damage should be done as MSIL's responsibility.

Looking forward to your decision and reply.

Sent this email on a Sunday afternoon, to receive a call on Monday morning. They'd like to send another paint expert to my home to inspect the car, and its parking spot. Fair enough, and they're most welcome! No one came. End of the day, I received another call asking me to bring the car once again to MSM Okhla (some 15 km from my home) the next day. So off I went in the afternoon on the Tuesday.

This time, it was a paint expert from Nerolac, who arrived an hour behind schedule. He then proceeded to inspect the damage, as well as measure the paint thickness all over the bodywork with a DFT (Dry Film Thickness) meter.

And strangely enough, the paint thickness on the affected part of the running board was thicker than in other places, especially similar areas around the other doors. Of course, there was no repaint or panel damage there, apart from the rust.

They also took the car up on a lift to inspect the underbody, where there was no rust either.

In the meanwhile, I was told verbally right there that the right-hand front door would need replacement, and some special epoxy material would be used by the workshop to fix the rusting!

And then all was quiet for over a week, till I wrote another email:

At the time of inspection, I understand that there was a large discrepancy in the dry film thickness of paint in the area where the corrosion is occurring, despite there being no accidental damage or repainting done there. This may point to a defect at the time of manufacturing. I presume MSIL may not want to share the technical details with me, but I seek a rectification of the same.

How soon can I expect a resolution from your end, if at all?

A phone call the next day told me to wait just one more day. And 3 days later, MSIL finally refused to own responsibility and fix the rust. I received an email today from a senior person, which essentially said the same things I have been told earlier - but what is revealing is this:

...upon inspection patches of foreign compound/ Hard water accumulation found on rusting location and alleged rusting/corrosion on front RH door rusting is due to acid entrapment between door seal and side sill, resulting in paint damage in same pattern. Cause of rusting is foreign chemical / Hard water accumulation between weather strip and side sill areas. There is no defect/abnormality attributed to manufacture which was observed in this regard.

And there we are once again, blame the customer for the corrosion...

we understand that the vehicle has been plied for 4 years and 9 months since purchase. For better upkeep of the vehicle and rust prevention, may please refer “Appearance Care” section in Owner’s Manual & Service Booklet.

Moreover, the required repairs are outside the purview of extended warranty in terms of clause 3(i), and hence the said repairs need to be carried out on payment basis.

However, please be assured that the best possible support of will be provided by the workshop.

So patches of 'foreign compound' miraculously appeared and increased the paint thickess, hard water accumulated right there and nowhere else (I wish MSIL did a water hardness test for my water supply!), there was 'acid entrapment' there (which acid?), and of course, I don't know how to maintain my car!

So I shall be taking the car to my favoured FNG bodyshop (and not to MSM which wants to change the whole door) to fix the rust and prevent any recurrence. My faith and trust in Maruti products and quality of customer service has just tripped over and fallen flat on its face. I have had enough past experiences with rust in HM Ambassadors and Premier Presidents and Padminis decades ago, and I had thought that those days are over with the turn of the century - but I am obviously wrong!

What piques my curiosity is, what is the likelihood of such rusting happening in a car today, that is <5 years old? How many Team-BHP members can report rusting in a similar area which has never been damaged or repainted? And if this is not a manufacturing defect, what is it?

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