First Posted: 12/12/2013

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 2000 Toyota Corolla. It runs really well, especially since it has 180,000 miles on it. However, the paint is coming off and it looks horrible. What is an economical way to get it painted? I think that the original paint would have to be stripped, so I realize that this adds to the cost. I plan to keep it for two more years (when I am done with university), so I am on a tight budget. — Karen

TOM: Have you ever heard of Rustoleum, Karen? Or Krylon?

RAY: Actually, there’s not a great solution to your problem. A number of cars from this era experience this peeling paint syndrome, which we call “delamination.” It typically occurs on the hood, the roof and the trunk.

TOM: The reason it happens is that, at that time, car makers were switching over to more environmentally friendly paints — paints with fewer volatile organic compounds.

RAY: The problem was, they didn’t really know what they were doing with the new paints yet, and some of the paint jobs failed — catastrophically.

TOM: If you were lucky enough to catch it early, when you were still at least within shouting distance of your warranty period, you could make a good case to the manufacturer that it should repaint the car for you. But that’s a harder case to make (successfully) when the car has been on the road for 14 years and has 180,000 miles on it.

RAY: Still, it’s worth a try. You can go to your dealer and say: “Look, I bought a Toyota because they’re supposed to last forever, and mechanically, it has lived up to that reputation. I love the car. But look at it … does Toyota think it’s normal or acceptable for paint to just peel off its cars while they’re still on the road?”

TOM: I doubt they’ll respond by ushering your car right into the body shop and telling you it’s on them. But if you acknowledge that it’s an older car now, you can still ask them if there’s anything they can do to help you get your car back into “presentable condition.”

RAY: Maybe, if they’re real humanitarians, they’ll try to help you pay for part of the cost of a paint job.

TOM: But a paint job is likely to be several thousand dollars, Karen, because it does require removing the existing paint with a scraper or random orbit sander, which is very time-consuming work.

RAY: I think it’s worth getting a few estimates. But I think you’ll probably get sticker shock. And if you can’t get financial help from Toyota and don’t want to make the investment yourself, then you can either live with it (which is what I’d do), or improvise something that might make the car look worse.

TOM: Personally, I like contact paper, Karen. That way, you can hide the delaminating paint and make an artistic statement at the same time! We wish you luck.

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Dear Tom and Ray:

What is the best way to have transmission fluid changed? Around 2002, I had my transmission fluid changed by the recycle method at a quick-change oil place. About a week later, the transmission went completely out at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars. After selling that car, I bought another used car and wanted to have the transmission fluid changed. From that first experience, I decided to have it changed by dropping the pan and changing the filter. I now have a 2005 Chrysler 300C that needs the transmission fluid changed. What do you recommend for having it changed — dropping the pan, or the backflow recycle method? — Jim

RAY: We like the recycling method. That’s where a machine is hooked up to your transmission’s cooler lines, and then, as the transmission pumps out the old fluid, the machine replaces it with all brand-new fluid.

TOM: Then the machine attaches to the wallet cooler lines of the customer and extracts the payment. That’s why we like it so much.

RAY: Using the old-fashioned method of “dropping (i.e., removing) the pan” is acceptable, but it always leaves old fluid in the torque converter. So at the end of your fluid change, your “new” transmission fluid is still, at best, only 3/4 new.

TOM: There’s a myth that we’ve been hearing forever that changing the transmission fluid on an old car will hasten the demise of its transmission. People will say, “I knew a guy with an old car who changed his transmission fluid, and a week later, the transmission died.”

RAY: Yeah, that’s what Jim says.

TOM: Oh. So it is. Well, in my opinion, any transmission that will die soon after a fluid change was almost certainly on death’s doorstep before the fluid change.

RAY: I mean, when do most people with old heaps suddenly decide they need to change their transmission fluid? When the transmission starts acting up, right?

TOM: That’s probably what happened with you, too, Jim. So, if your transmission is already slipping, or making hard shifts, or failing to shift at all, a fluid change is not going to be a long-term, miracle cure. If you’re replacing really old, burned-out fluid, it might help you for a while. But whichever method you use, you’re really unlikely to make it any worse. Good luck.

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Stop the madness! You can stop driving like a knucklehead, and you’ll help your car in the process. Learn how your driving habits can harm your car in Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Ruin, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.


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(c) 2013 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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