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Author Topic: Is undercoating a scam?
Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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I recently purchased a vehicle and they offered to do Undercoating, Paint Protection, and (starch carpets?) whatever the last part of my package was.

But I'm told from an expert that it is already done, yet I asked the dealer and he said they used to do it between 1995 and 1997 and stopped over complaints or something.

I heard it's a scam to get it done. Is it?

[ 03. August 2005, 07:43 PM:   snopes ]

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Joseph Z

Posts: 1356 | From: Woodbridge, VA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Biker
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Joseph, the paint protection is on almost all newer cars. This is the clear coat that the manufacturers have been putting on for a number of years.

The fabric protection (starch carpets?) is good if you have young children or if you spill things in the vechile. Very good for seats, moderate for carpets, but will make cleaning easier for a few years. This you can do your self but almost as expensive as having the dealer or a 3rd party do it.

My last two (1 year used) vechiles already have had the Undercoating applied. I remember the last new vechile they said it was already on, but not a good a job as what the after market puts on. This one depends on how often you drive on roads with gravel coatings or salt from the winter.

Biker

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Revolution 9
The Red and the Green Stamps


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If undersealing's done properly, then it's absolutely not a scam, it really does extend the service life of your car. Are we talking about the underside of the floorpans etc being coated with a rust inhibitor, or the chassis rails etc being injected with Waxoyl or a similar rustproofer, or both? Just so that I'm clear what sort of treatment we're talking about, in case the lingo differs between the UK and US. In any case, it really does work if it's applied properly, and will protect your floorpan and chassis rails from corrosion in the long term, so it's worth it if you intend to keep the car for a few years or if it's regularly used in salty, wet or snowy conditions. Of course, if it has already been done recently then there's no real reason for doing it again.
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Ouch My Ankle
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There is a thick coating of "stuff" on the underside of newer cars. It's the same color as the body. I've never once had this coating flake off on any of my cars. My latest car is five years old and it still basically looks brand new underneath -- and we salt the roads up here in MA.

The Scotch Guard on the interior fabrics is overpriced. If you want it, you can buy a can of the stuff and do it yourself.

The paint protection isn't worth it either -- unless it's the protection film from 3M. Even then, it's expensive and only applied to certain key areas that are prone to stone chips.

Basically, the car is eventually going to wear out no matter what you do. All the dealer-offered protection does is separate you from more of your cash.

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Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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Well, scam or no scam, might as well get it done since they already got the loan check.

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Joseph Z

Posts: 1356 | From: Woodbridge, VA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
'59 Ford Wheelman
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I have to say yes and no. For most people, who keep a car 3-5 years, even in the Rust Belt there will not be enough corrosion without undercoating to justify the expense. Sure, the rust that will form may hurt trade-in/resale value, but today's cars use a lot of galvanizing and superior primers to cars of yore, so it is not as big of a deal. If you only intend to keep the car a few years, I say skip it. If you intend to keep it longer it might be a wise idea. Of course, with the proliferation of plastic body parts (which, I understand, salt will ultimately corrode) and aluminum on cars, I'm not sure it matters as much anyway. Less steel will equal less rust.

One caveat to those considering undercoating an existing car: If the shop does it improperly and fails to fully cover the undercarriage, there is a possibility that salt can get to the metal and start rust. Once this happens the undercoating can actually hold the salt in place (some might normally be washed away with driving through rain, standing water, etc.). Once so trapped, the salt will eat away at the car under the undercoating, where it can't easily be detected to dealt with. Thus, a poor undercoating job can be worse than none at all. [Eek!]

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golf4469
The Red and the Green Stamps


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First let me say that I was in automobile sales for seven years. During that time I was either a sales person or sales manager for one of the General Motors brands.

The strait skinny on dealer added paint sealant, scotch guard and undercoating is this.

Scotch guard is a spray that they apply to the seat fabric and carpets that helps to repel stains. This works well and is probably worth a minimal charge. Keep in mind that you can do this yourself so if the dealer is trying to charge more than about $100 it would save you money to do it yourself. All that the dealer does is take a spray bottle similar to the ones your everyday cleaners come in that has the scotch guard chemical in it and pulls the trigger and coats the fabric in your car. You should also keep in mind that this procedure may have already been done at the factory as is the case with GM vehicles during the 1990’s. Read the FACTORY window sticker, FACTORY product brochure, and the FACTORY owners manual for details

Paint sealant is a huge scam. The cars come from the factory with a clear coat finish that gives your car that glossy shine and helps to protect the paint and keep it from fading. The paint sealant is nothing more than a liquid that comes in a four oz bottle and goes on and comes off just like a wax. The paint sealant costs about $18 a bottle. The person applying it makes minimum wage. The dealer will tell you that you need this and will charge you several hundred dollars for nothing more than a wax job that you do not need.

Undercoating is the same as paint sealant. In fact it is worse. During the 1990’s it clearly stated in the GM owners manual from the factory that undercoating was not necessary and in fact, if undercoating was applied it could void the manufacturers 10year/100,000 mile rust through warranty. It may still say that I don’t know.

The common factor with all three of these products is this. The dealer can apply these products to new vehicles and add an “addendum” to the factory window sticker listing these products at grossly inflated prices giving him the opportunity to make more money on each vehicle.

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Wow. Great post, golf4469. I've always wondered about the additions dealers try to sell.

Arrow "Less nervous about car shopping now" Tech IV

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abigsmurf
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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yeah modern cars have very good rust protection so extra protection isn't really needed. The only parts that are likely to rust are parts of the car which should be replaced before it happens anyway
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ottercreek
The First USA Noel


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It is all a scam. It is all up-sell, last minute add ons to get more money and way more profit.

Undercoating used to be useful as a soundproofer which turns out to also have had rust proofing qualities (or was it the other way around, its been 4 years since my last purchase) but in any case, today's cars are both much quieter and made of corrosion resistant metals. I read about this in a consumer protection guide I got before buying a new car.

Fabric guard for the cars upholstery is up-sold for way more than you would pay for an equivalent spray can at any auto parts store. Why pay 10X more for a job you can do yourself with the ease of holding a spray bottle correctly?(that really is more an extra than a neccesity anyway.)

Extended service plans also rarely pay off, in fact, almost never. I heard once that for every dollar spent on an extended service plan, the average person gets something like 6 cents of service. And it is not the same as insurance in that:
1: ESP's usually expire way before the average car starts to break down rendering it useless for the vast majority of cases.
2: Many are redundant on the car's warranty and especially implied warranty coverage. When many things break down, the implied warranty covers many repairs that are basically not supposed to happen at all.
3: You have to keep your car in "peak operating condition" not just "good operating condition" which is all that is necessary for the vast majority of new cars, for it to be valid, meaning you have to pay way more in maintinence than you need to keep it in overkilled good running condition giving the dealer more profit.
So what good are extended service warranties? Little to none except in the extremely rare case...but plenty good for the dealer.

They also always have canned lines to make it sound like you run a great risk if you do not buy this stuff that they never say a peep about when you are still talking about the buying the car itself.

Here is my story: The salesman had a horror story about not having an ESP. The finance officer had one too. The sales manager also had one. Now the particular case of the finance officer, she had laminated in her book a very neatly written "estimate" of the cost of her brothers car with the broken air conditioner. It was neatly typewritten "$1,500.00" FIrst, since when do repairs work out to a figure so exact? Since when are most repairs that much within the first year for new cars? Since when do repairmen neatly type things out? Usually they write them by hand almost illegibly. Why on Earth would her brother just give her a copy of his bill? Why was it handily right in her book? It did not make sense.

I asked her what the probability of me getting a 1500 dollar repair within the first year of buying a car. (It was supposedly less than a year after he bought it.) She said, "oh one in a thousand but you want to be safe." I said, well, you have a story, the salesman has one, and so does the manager. That means by your own words, 1/1000 X 1/1000 X 1/1000 equals a one in 1,000,000,000 which is one in a billion chance that the stories you are telling me are all true. She paused, and said, "that is where you are wrong." I offered to show her the math but she quicky changed the subject.

I told her if cars break down at such an alarming rate, I am not so sure I want to get one. She told me once again how good they were. I told her but you just said look what might happen...You get the idea....


Here is my advice....DONT BUY ANY OF THAT AFTER SELL CRAP!

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Geeto67
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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The probelm with undercoating is very few dealers are setup to apply it properly. Typically when sprayed it tends to trap moisture inbetween the coating and the metal and actuall cause rot over time (like decades so don't freak out). Plus most dealers don't get good coverage when spraying so the tight nooks and crannies where water would normally gather don't get any coating.

If the car is sprayed in the proper low humidity enviornment it will keep the car from rusting out for a long time, however since this is seldom done undercoating get the rep of being a scam.

To illustrate my point, My 1967 GTO is an 80K mile car, that has never been registered outside of new york. I am the second owner. The car had dealer undercoating installed (I have the original bill of sale). When I tore this car apart the places that had rotted through were where the water gathers and undercoating coud not reach (like inside the door sil) and places where the undercoating was applied directly (and heavily) but water could not gather like the (like the center of the floor board or the vertical section of the trunk extensions). When I began chipping off the undercoating with a paint scraper the metal had surface rust underneath but areas I used a paint stripper chemical on that had no undercoating were clean metal.

Conversely my 1967 buick GS without undercoating, the same amount of miles as the GTO, and has also always been a NY car has 1/4 of the rot the Goat has, most of it caused by standing water.

If you aren't keeping the car 10 years at least, then don't worry about it.

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DawnStorm
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quote:
Originally posted by Ouch My Ankle:
All the dealer-offered protection does is separate you from more of your cash.

Which is why we declined it when my husband had to get another car a few years ago. I figured all that had been done at the factory and good care on our part is all that's needed.

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G.
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Geeto67:

When I began chipping off the undercoating with a paint scraper the metal had surface rust underneath but areas I used a paint stripper chemical on that had no undercoating were clean metal.

Not saying you're wrong (in fact I totally agree with you), but couldn't the paint stripper remove any surface rust along with the paint?
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Vinnichanka
Deck the Malls


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Fargo, anyone?

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'59 Ford Wheelman
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by G.:
quote:
Originally posted by Geeto67:

When I began chipping off the undercoating with a paint scraper the metal had surface rust underneath but areas I used a paint stripper chemical on that had no undercoating were clean metal.

Not saying you're wrong (in fact I totally agree with you), but couldn't the paint stripper remove any surface rust along with the paint?
Unfortunately not. I have vast experience with paint strippers, and more than I care to admit with rust. Paint strippers do absolutely nothing to rust that I have ever seen. Rust removal/prevention requires a whole other type of chemical altogether.
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Geeto67
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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A few newer chemical paint strippers have naval jelly (or the chemical equivalent) in them now to slow the oxidation when you get down to the bare metal. The majority of them do not however. Naval jelly is a jelly (duh) that removes oxidation. It was designed for use by the U.S. Navy for treating the hulls of ships while they were in the water. The stuff is water soluible in case anyone was worried about the enviornmental aspects of dumping gallons of it into harbor waters. Naval Jelly by itself will strip some kinds of paint but really it takes twice the time and it isn't really apaint stripper anyway.

Anyway, '59 ford is right 99% of the stripers out there don't do diddley for rust.

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kendall
The Red and the Green Stamps


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a lot of times all the undercoat does is to plug the drain holes in the underbody allowing waater to sit and rust that would have otherwise drained out.
An annual spritz with used motor oil does as well as the best undercoat, even up here in michigan with all the salt they use.

Also, if you want to keep a car for a long time, pull out all the 'rust bags' little plastic bags filled with foam or 'hair' stuck in various places on the car, normally in the areas that are the first to rust, behind the wheelwell on front fenders, corners of the cab on pickups, and rear wheel wells.
have never found a reference to their 'actual' purpose, but only find them in rust prone areas, and there's always light rust around them I always yank them out whenever I get a new car.
not for noise control, or dust prevention, as they are just 'dropped' in, not placed with any care other than for general placement.

Ken.

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Revolution 9
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Seems I was talking about a different kind of undersealing then than the type the dealers use. I don't know if you lot get this in the US, but over here there's a type of rust inhibitor called Waxoyl that you inject into the chassis rails etc of the car to prevent rust, I've done it to a few classics, and it really does keep the moisture out in my experience of older cars, provided that you get all the moisture out of there before you start injecting of course, for that reason I like to have a little dehumidifier in the garage working for a few hours before I do the job, it's very damp in the West of Scotland you see so if I didn't the damp air might get trapped in the Waxoyl and cause rust. I've heard many a classic owner swear by the stuff, and I think there was a similar stuff called Ziebart that dealers and manufacturers used to apply when many now-classics were new. There's also a type of undercoating called Shootes (I think) that you can get round here for painting the underside of your car, it was popular with haulage fleets a few years back for painting the chassis of their motors. It's a sort of black colour, and has a slightly bumpy finish, but you can paint over it and you don't notice it unless you know it's there and you're close up, so I tend to paint it on until about a quarter of the way up any classics I'm applying it too, plus in the wheelarches. This stuff really is effective, it resists stonechips and salt better than a few coats of normal cellulose or two-pack paint. No doubt that's hardly necesary on a newer car, but if you were going to get it done a few years down the line, it's a job you could easily do yourself, but as I said you'd have to make sure you didn't trap any moisture in there when you did, otherwise you might do untold harm to the motor.
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