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2011 Ford Escape Hybrid mystery

I am considering buying a 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid from a dealership and in looking at the exterior noticed a 3 to 4 inch slit on the side of the car near the rear wheel. The trim around the wheel well was cut through as well near the slit. These slits are identical on the other side of the car. It looked like damage to me but the salesman said something about it being related to an “anti-chip paint” feature. Later, in asking further, he said that “they all have that.” Now I can’t seem to find anything online about this.

Only way to know for sure is to examine another one, see if it has the same thing.

If you can’t trust your dealer about a “feature”, that’s troublesome in and of itself. I’ve been with the same dealer for several cars because I haven’t had any issues with trust.

Could that “slit” be a paint line, where the anti-chip pant ends or begins? Or could we be talking about the plastic sheet material that is glued on like a clear plastic sheet to protect from rocks?

My theory is essentially the same as Joseph’s.

The fact that the OP observed the exact same situation on both sides of the car leads me to believe that this is not a flaw, and is a part of the design. Exactly what part of the design is not clear, based on the OP’s description, however.

Thanks for the comments. I’ve asked (via email) the dealer for the manufacturer’s written description of the feature. I haven’t heard back yet. I did press on the surface to one side of the “crack” and it actually depressed slightly. I thought about the fact that it is on both sides and am wildly speculating that if it actually is damage I suppose it could occur in transport if the car is secured by some brace that is identical on both sides. I didn’t have a lot of time to look closely or measure so it may not be completely identical.

More and more, I am convinced that the OP is observing the line/gap/seam where the deformable bumpers meet the rear fenders. The material surrounding the actual “contact area” of the bumper can be fairly large on some cars, thus constituting what looks like a pretty big body panel–albeit one that is flexible, as it is supposed to be.

a picture of this would be most helpful

I realize my description is lacking and I will try to get a picture. It was raining heavily at the time I looked at it and the salesman said that usually one doesn’t see what I saw in dry conditions. The “crack” or seam or whatever it is is a few inches forward of the rear wheel well, three to four inches in length, and running more or less horizontally. I suppose that would be consistent with some sort of skin applied to prevent paint chipping by rocks kicked up. It sure looked like the surface of the vehicle was compromised, though, but now I’m starting to wonder if I’m the one who is all wet. I’ll explore and get back to the forum. Thanks!