WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- One WUSA9 viewer's Call For Action complaint about Ford paint evolved into a national WUSA9 investigation identifying peeling, bubbling, and/or blistering issues on a dozen models.
Larry Cullumber called us from Purcellville, Va. about paint bubbling on his 2010 Ford Expedition.
"There's a piece that just fell off," Larry said as WUSA9 examined his aluminum hood. "Then, it's starting across here. It's starting to blister."
A Ford technical service bulletin identifies paint issues on some Expeditions, GTs, Mustangs, Rangers, Expeditions, Explorers, Sables, Town Cars, Navigators, Grand Marquis and Lincoln LS models but only in certain years that don't include Cullumber's 2010.
"I've been so loyal to Ford," Cullumber said he'd been buying Fords his entire life. "I came from a Ford family and grew up as a teenager racing Fords."
Cullumber keeps his car spotless, but regardless, the bubbles keep coming.
"I'm sort of a joke with my friends and family because my cars are always immaculate." Cullumber said. "I can tell by reading the Internet that there are a lot of people like me."
Cullumber said he was dumbfounded when both a Ford dealer and a Ford headquarters representative told him his Expedition was beyond warranty and there was nothing they could do to help him.
"Ford knows about it, but they're not doing anything about it," Cullumber told the WUSA9 Call for Action team.
A Google search on "Ford" and "peeling paint" returns 75,900 results, including Facebook pages dedicated to consumers complaining about bubbling and blistering on Ford and Mercury vehicles.
WUSA9 flew in Detroit chemical engineer Steve Gaiski, who specializes in automotive paint, to analyze Cullumber's car.
"It's got to be replaced," said Gaiski after examining Cullumber's Expedition. "Both the hood and the lift gate cannot be repainted because the iron particulate are actually embedded in."
Gaiski's firm, Zestar, is paid to document evidence against Ford.
He literally wrote the book, "Making it Right: Why your car payments are lasting longer than your factory paint jobs."
"Goodness gracious, we've been involved in New Jersey, California, 14 states," Gaiski said about his effort to get Ford to compensate owners. "We get contacted about every three weeks."
He says he's seen the similar problems in fleets of Ford vehicles.
Monday we identified two police departments in Ohio where as many as half of their vehicles have significant paint damage.
"Would you like to take a tour," said Niles, Ohio Police Captain Mark Thou. "No one seems to have an answer for us."
We saw police decals peeling away because the paint underneath had come loose along with large patches of paint on squad car hoods, roofs, and doors
"The paint should be sticking to the car," said Police Chief Duane Whitely in neighboring Elyria. "We worked out a deal where he (the dealer) repainted all the cars."
But, the Chief says even the Ford dealers attempted repaint didn't stick.
"Obviously the paint wasn't adhering to the car," Whitely said pointing to exposed metal on a cruiser's hood. "Now we have cars that are rusting that shouldn't be rusting."
Gaiski said some Fords could be fixed with a proper paint job, but not Cullumber's because his Expedition's hood and tail are made of aluminum panels which are contaminated..
"Both the hood and the lift gate cannot be repainted because the iron particulate are actually embedded in," Gaiski told Cullumber.
Gaiski said the trade magazine article in Finishing Today, with the byline of a Ford paint expert, Ford Service Bulletins acknowledge paint issues.
"It does state the iron is a contaminate and it will cause blistering," Gaiski said.
In the end, a local Ford did step up…Cullumber says he's gotten promises – not only for a paint job – but to replace those Ford panels our expert says you can't fix with paint.
Have the same problem? Click http://static.wusa9.com/callforaction/ to file your complaint online or dial 301-652-HELP (301-652-4357).
Ford Motor Company did not respond to most of our questions and declined interview requests but did issue a statement.
"Ford is absolutely committed to top quality and customer satisfaction," the statement said. "We recommend that customers with any questions on our products either contact their dealer directly or visit Owner Support at Ford.com or call 1-800-392-3673."