Volkswagen Passat tailgate rust problem

* Rust developed on the Passat tailgate; covered under warranty * The car was damaged further while in for repair * Tailgate was replaced, bumper was repaired...

Volkswagen Passat tailgate rust problem

You don’t expect to collect your car from a bodyshop to find it in worse nick than when it went in. So when Justin Robson got his Volkswagen Passat Estate back after a spell at the repairers, he was astonished to find his pride and joy had acquired new scuffs.

Justin’s five-year-old Passat is his workhorse, and he needs it to go on and on. So when he discovered rust developing on the tailgate, he hotfooted it to his local dealer, Volkswagen Macclesfield, part of the Inchcape dealer group. They confirmed the damage was covered by the car’s 12-year rust warranty, and said that because the rust was in several places, the tailgate should be replaced.

The car was booked in at Inchcape’s nearest bodyshop, Smith Knight Fay in Audenshaw, which was 40 miles from Justin. He didn’t relish having to travel so far but, relieved that the rust problem was about to be blitzed for good, he made the journey without complaint and dropped off his car for repair.

Ten days later, the Passat was ready to go home. Things seemed good until Justin parked up on his driveway and inspected the car properly. To his dismay, he realised the tailgate had not been replaced as promised, only repaired – and badly. He also noticed a Phillips screw head-shaped indent on the rear bumper and scuffs on the rear valance. He took photographs of the repairs and the damage, and e-mailed them to Smith Knight Fay.

The bodyshop manager agreed that the standard of repair wasn’t up to scratch, apologised and promised that this would be rectified. However, he said there had been no instruction from Volkswagen or VW Macclesfield to replace the car’s tailgate. He also said there was no evidence to suggest that the additional damage had been caused while the car was in his workshop.

Fortunately Justin, a keen online car forum poster, had taken dated photographs of his Passat without the damage just a few days before its repair. He sent these to Helpdesk, and we contacted Volkswagen to get to the bottom of the repair/replacement issue.

Volkswagen responded quickly and, after investigating Justin’s situation, got the warranty ball rolling. Within two weeks Justin’s car had been fitted with a brand new tailgate and valance. The scuffed bumper had also been repaired, although Smith Knight Fay maintains it is not responsible for the damage.

‘My car looks a million times better,’ said a delighted Justin following the rectification work. He was even happier when, as a gesture of goodwill, VW sent him £100 to cover his travel costs, and offered to carry out his next service free of charge.

What if this happens to you?

  • Ask your dealer to put the details of agreed warranty work in writing, especially if the repair will take place at a different branch or company.
  • Take dated photographs of your car just before it goes in for repair. These will help if you need to prove when any damage occurred.
  • Give your car a thorough inspection before you sign any acceptance forms.

We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.

If you need our help, email us at with a few details and we'll be in touch.