Fair Go: How long should your car's factory paint job last?

A lick of paint is more than a thing of beauty - it’s sunscreen for your automobile.

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Phillip had some peeling issues with the paintwork on his Citroën, leading Fair Go to investigate. Source: Fair Go

But the paint on Phillip Gorman’s Citroën Berlingo van is neither useful not beautiful – it’s peeling off in sheets and the metal is rusting.

The car was brand new when he bought it, and has done about 30,000 kilometres in eight years, so it should have a lot of life left, but Gorman despairs - "where will the paint fail next?"

His despair hasn’t been shared by the local Citroën dealer Armstrong’s, nor by the French carmaker’s local agent, Auto Distributors NZ Ltd – until TVNZ's Fair Go got involved.

They were pinning it all on Citroën’s three-year paint warranty – and refusing to investigate further.

Gorman says he contemplated taking a claim to the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal but was put off by Armstrong’s, who told him he stood no chance and should trade it in with them for a new van instead.

Fair Go got to work and brought in Mt Roskill Collision Centre, a paint and panel firm with decades in the business, who were convinced the paint was failing from the inside out. They reckon auto paint should last at least 10 years – provided you take care of it.

Citroën’s agent NZAD jumped on it when Fair Go called and arranged paint manufacturer PPG to investigate – it found a reaction between the paint and the panels was the likely cause, so a fault.

Citroën’s warranty office in France has taken that all on board and approved a complete strip and respray to return the car to a factory finish - a $10,000-plus job - and it will foot the bill for Gorman.

Très bien, Citroën and ADNZ.

Mt Roskill Collision Centre's top tips for keeping that factory finish on your car in great condition: 

* Wash your car once a week, ideally and subject to any water restrictions. 

* Wash with a proper car shampoo. Household cleaners may have a caustic base or be too harsh for the job and damage the finish.

* Use one bucket to soap and another to rinse out the sponge so you aren’t rubbing grime back into your paintwork as that can also damage the finish.

* Wash the wheels last for the same reason; they get very grimy.

* Polish the paintwork every three months as this helps the grime slide off.

* Remove any bird poop pronto as it can react and break down the coatings. Same goes for dust from roadworks, tree sap, leaves and anything that clogs or sticks.

Regular cleaning isn’t just about car pride; cleaning maintains the paintwork and protects the metal and will help the car hold its value.

It also means you may notice any dings or other problems that might crop up a lot sooner.