The problem is limited to 2003 vehicles built at Flat Rock. Flat Rock built 64,102 Mazda6s in the 2003 model year.
This fix involves peeling back the weather stripping, treating the stain with an alcohol solution, repainting the area, refastening the stripping, then caulking the area to prevent additional oxygen from entering. "We put the caulk on the seam because you need moisture and oxygen to have rust," Barnes says. "If you remove the oxygen source, the lack of additional oxygen will stem any further rust or staining."
Mazda has taken some unsold 2003 models and shipped them to Japan for accelerated weather testing at the automaker's r&d center. Once the repair has been performed, there is no further evidence of staining, Barnes says.
The technical service bulletin allocates up to a $250 warranty refund per repair, with any higher amount needing approval from a regional service manager. "This wasn't intended to be a Band-Aid," Barnes says "It was to fix the problem."
But Mazda6 owners say they have been routinely disappointed with the dealership service to correct the problem, which owner Paul Kaminsky characterized as a "clean and cover-up" job.
"If they had offered the repair and additionally thrown in a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the doors covering rust, staining, or whatever, they would have won kudos from me," says Kaminsky, a lawyer in Miami.
Mukasa Ssemakula, a professor of manufacturing engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit, describes himself as an "average Joe" in terms of the recourse he felt he had with Mazda. But his area of expertise allowed him to be smarter in dealing with the service technicians.
"I told the technician, 'This looks like rust to me,' " Ssemakula says. "And he said, 'Yes, I think so, too.' "
Ssemakula insisted that the body shop sand the rust away, then reprime and repaint the affected areas. That is a far more extensive repair than outlined in Mazda's service bulletin. But the dealer followed through, sending the car to a nearby body shop. It turned out all four door sashes were so pocked with rust that the dealership racked up a $1,300 warranty bill.