The class-action status has been denied.
Ford has been having problems with bubbling paint for years now, but the latest development is in Ford's favor. The lawsuit has been denied class action certification, a big win for the defense.
The issue relates to 2013-2018 Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, and Ford Mustang models. According to the original lawsuit, the aluminum panels on these vehicles corrode, which causes the paint to flake, blister, and peel.
New Fords are sold with a paint warranty, but this is limited to "perforation." This gives Ford an out because aluminum panels can't perforate due to corrosion, which means a warranty claim can easily be denied.
The plaintiffs in the original court case claim the premature wear harms the resale value and that they can't replace the original panels with new ones sourced from Ford because they have the same defect.
It's not clear when Ford first started using aluminum panels, but it first issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) in December 2004.
According to TSB TSB 04-25-1, "Some vehicles may exhibit a bubbling or blistering under the paint on the aluminum body parts. This is due to iron contamination of the aluminum panel. Testing had revealed that the aluminum corrosion was caused by iron particles working their way into the aluminum body part before it was painted."
The lawsuit claims that owners were told to perform "sand and paint" repairs, which apparently only masked the problem.
The original TSB mentioned above was succeeded by another in 2016, which included more models. In 2017, Ford sent another TSB (17-0062), but it told technicians to replace the panel rather than sand and paint it.
While Florida federal judge, Rodolfo A. Ruiz II, denied class-action status, the lawsuit is going ahead, along with multiple other cases.
Judge Ruiz ruled that plaintiffs could only claim under the state law where their claims stem from. He denied the plaintiffs the right to start a nationwide claim on behalf of people who owned makes and models the plaintiffs had no experience with. In simpler terms, a Mustang owner could not begin a class-action lawsuit on behalf of an Expedition owner.
The plaintiffs aren't allowed to represent owners of models introduced later than 2016 or owners of vehicles in states outside of California, Florida, New York, Indiana, and Illinois.
The judge also mentioned that if the lawsuit were to go ahead, it would include roughly 800,000 cars, most of which did not have this problem. Judge Ruiz reportedly called it "nonsensical" when requested to ignore this disparity.
The case is going ahead and will play out in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. We'll keep you updated with any new information.