Toyota 2017 Camry - Paint Scratches since new. Dealer buffed, many more scratches found - Refuses to do anything

I have been through living H*ll with this dealership. I bought the vehicle new in July, 2017. They are 60 miles away - BIG MISTAKE to purchase at a distance dealer.

Because of the dark & unique color of Cosmic Grey, I did not discover all the clear coat horizontal scratches that were/are on much of the vehicle when I picked it up. I did see 3 modest-sized areas of scratches after they prepped & detailed it, & showed them where the scratches were; at which point they said they would buff them out right away. I left, thinking the paint was fine, when that was far from the case.

You need intense light such as the big overhead lighting that big gas stations have at night; or the sun when it is getting lower in the sky to see them. I can also easily see them with a Mag-Lite in the dark garage quite easily.

As I had no idea scratches would be so difficult to see in this paint, I didn’t examine the car under such lighting. I had no idea I would need to be micro-examining the car.

But, upon wand-washing the car at a self-service car wash, & carefully drying w/microfiber towels, daylight had waned, & I could see even under the car wash’s somewhat bright big square light that there were many light scratches still in the paint.

I called the dealer’s body shop mgr., who was accommodating, & said that since I lived so far, it would be fine to wait until 4,500 miles to bring it in, so they could buff the scratches. I did this, & sneaked back to where the detailer was doing it with 2 different buffing pads & compounds. When he was done, I could see at least 4 areas that were still scratched. So, he did these areas. God only knows how much clear these guys take off, as a detail shop & my local body shop told me the clear is about as thick as 3 human hairs, and that most of these dealer detailers are 3rd party, & don’t do their jobs right.

When I left the dealer, I thought all was fine. IT WASN’T. I examined the car shortly after getting home, &, to my horror, I still find there are a number of horizontal scratches. I call the body shop mgr. to tell him. Winter was about to arrive with a vengeance in a few days, so he told me to wait, & we’d wing it until the weather gave a break. It never did the whole winter. But I remained in regular contact w/body mgr., & he told me I could wait until my 10,000 m. Toyota Care Maintenance.

I did this 2 weeks ago. I had an appointment w/the understanding he was to buff any scratched areas & use better lighting. I had washed the car, per his instructions, before my appointment. But, when I arrived, they wanted to do the Maintenance first, so the car was out of my sight & in the shop in who knows how many areas. Then, it is suddenly placed back in the service waiting area, & not taken to the body shop.

I was HORRIFIED to look at the side of the car & find that there were deep scratches on the bottom half of the passenger front door & on the front fender. I immediately showed them to body mgr., & he immediately denied that they did so. Does he think I was born yesterday? I had washed & dried the car before driving there, & I scrutinized the car before leaving, & there were no such scratches. He tells me they are too deep to buff, & the door & fender would have to be repainted. I argued with him it was their fault, which he simply denied.

He stated that if these areas were repainted that the whole car would need to be buffed out (LIAR!), so there was no point in buffing the other scratches. Not knowing how to handle him, I told him I didn’t know if I would get those areas repainted, & told him to buff out the scratches I came in to have done. He then lies to my face, telling me, “I don’t have detailers working today.” WHAT? If you sell cars every day, you have to have detailers there every day. My local body shop told me that, as did another Toyota Certified Body Shop at a dealership in my area.

Realizing this dealer was not honest as I thought, & simply wanted to do nothing about anything, I called Toyota Customer Care. That was when I found out how Toyota has their whole system set up.

“All our dealers are independently owned, so we can only ask that they work the situation out with the customer, & have no control over them.” If I knew that this was Toyota’s arrangement with their dealerships, I would NEVER have bought a Toyota.

Toyota Customer Care had already lied to me before, telling me that each dealership had a Customer Relations Manager (called CRM’s) , who was employed BY Toyota, not the dealership, & that they were the watchdogs, the eyes & ears for Toyota. That is a total CROCK! These CRM’s are simply employees of the dealership, &, at this dealership it was the Service Manager, who is a slick & aggressive BS artist. When Toyota told me he was the CRM, I told them I did NOT want this going to him - I wanted the issue to be asked to be handled by the General Manager. So, both Toyota Cust. Care & I both left him voice mails. He NEVER RETURNED ANY CALLS.

When I then call Toyota Cust. Care again, I am told when a dealership does damage to a car, or doesn’t fix an issue, Toyota “doesn’t have any authority to make them do anything”, & “It is between you & the dealer.”
And this 20 year old simply argues with me, telling me that I can’t go any higher than him. I tell him there has to be a chain of command, & I demand to speak to the next level up. He puts me on hold, & then tells me his Spvr. will call me within 24 hours.

I called Toyota back, as I wanted to speak to a different representative to see what garbage I would be fed by someone else. She looked over the case notes, & told me she was sending an “electronic communication” re: no response to the dealer. This was the worst thing, because it went directly to the Service Mgr. / CRM, who then called me, & nastily told me that a “dealership decision had been made to sever all relationships; they would do nothing about either set of scratches; & that they would not service the vehicle moving forward, period.” And then hung up!

I’m still waiting to hear from Toyota’s Cust. Care Sprvr. But I believe this is going nowhere. Do you realize that with this policy Toyota has, a dealer could destroy your engine, and Toyota would DO NOTHING, & tell you it is between you and the dealership. I don’t know how they can get away with this legally.

Toyota should have long contracts for dealerships that state if they do not work with the customer to solve service / damage issues, that they will be bound by Toyota stepping in & having the authority to force them to replace the damaged engine, or do the body work necessary to fix what they have damaged. It is clear to me that this company has not set their policies up with any regard for the customer whatsoever.

I called the CRM of a large Toyota dealer near me. He has been a CRM for 15 years, & told me I should insist on this being handled by the next level up if this supervisor will not resolve the issue, which I’m sure he won’t. And Cust. Care is carefully taught to say that “this is our policy & nothing can be done other than to work with your dealership.”

BS. A Regional Manager is sent a copy of my Complaint Case, & is supposed to be involved in prodding this dealer about how they are going to resolve the complaint. But Toyota tells you that they “have no further knowledge of how the Regional Manager handles this, & they cannot speak to him directly.”

This is way, way over the top. Is there anyone in this Community who knows how to get Toyota to handle this & not simply make excuses?

Help is much appreciated.

I can’t help you but will say that what you perceive to be a flaw in the system (dealers being independently ownered, yada, yada. yada) is entirely normal and all dealerships are set up like this no matter the make.
It is NOT a Toyota thing…

From the sound of things it sounds like you’ve burnt all your bridges. Next step is flip a coin and sue…

I’m having a hard time seeing how the dealer scratched the car up that badly during a PDI. The PDI means a wash and dry at best. Sometimes not even that.

All dealerships are independently owned? That is not my understanding for all car mfrs. It sound like you are saying that all car mfrs. work this exact same way - that they do nothing for the customer but push it off on being “between the customer & the dealership”. Have I interpreted you correctly? If so, why buy a new car if you have no support from the manufacturer? This type of practice should be illegal.

I take issue with you telling me that “you’ve burnt all your bridges.” I’ve done nothing wrong; the dealer is responsible. You are having a hard time seeing how the dealer scratched the car? First of all, the other Toyota dealership CRM, my high-end Body Shop owner, & a respected detail shop all told me the following.

When new cars are assembled, all panels should already have come out of a factory inspection as perfect, with no scratches, and they are then reexamined upon final assembly & before being placed on the large delivery trucks where measures & techniques have been implemented in the loading & unloading of the vehicles on the trucks keep them from incurring any possible damage.

Thus, it is the dealer’s responsibility to examine the cars, which many do a very poor job of. Adding to that, black and darker colors take more examination, which dealers may fail to do.

Then, the dealer has the autos parked outside, where rain, snow or hail can do subtle, or not so sublte, damage to the paint. Many dealers do not do the proper prep, which is to HAND WASH the vehicle, and not use an automated car wash with brushes, which is what this dealer has.

So, perhaps that will make it easier for you to understand that this was done at the dealership. As far as the deep scratches discovered on my last visit, it doesn’t seem you read the sequence of events very well, as they describe how this had to occur in the dealership, as these deep scratches were not on the car and could not have been made on the car from my washing of it the night before, followed by a close examination before I left for the dealership. No stops were made, so there is your answer.

Sorry you don’t believe me about all dealerships being independently owned but not believing me is not going to change the reality. Your understanding is not correct.

By burning your bridges, what I mean by that is that it appears that things have gotten pretty volatile between you, the dealer, and Toyota Motor Company.

When the conversation becomes a bit heated or even venomous the dealer and/or TMC will have a tendency to back away from you. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong they may develop the mindset that the customer is just another whiner. I’m not saying that you are; only that’s the way things work.



Ok, I Googled if all car manufacturers have independent dealers only, and it seems that this has become a law in most states. This is pretty sick, and how they accomplished achieving this smacks of collusion, like our dirty government runs.

It shouldn’t be that way, but you may be correct in saying that when the conversation becomes heated or worse, the dealer and Toyota “will have a tendency to back away from you.” Things would not have become so heated if the dealer had the decency and integrity to take responsibility and try to work things out with the customer - but, they didn’t do that, and that was clear to me when the Body Shop mgr. refused to take responsibility for the damage, and then lied about there being no detail people there, when I made an appointment for that very purpose.

You are the only person who has shown an interest in my post, though I only put it up on Saturday. Hopefully, there will be others responding. Unless I did not place it in the proper category by choosing Maintenance/Repairs?

Since none of us can see the alleged defects / damage in the paint we really can’t comment on just how big or small a problem this is…If it takes powerful lights shining at just the right angle to see them it’s really not that much of a problem…So what are you looking for ? A replacement car with a perfect finish delivered at no cost to you? Never going to happen. Do you want Toyota to have your car repainted at no cost to you? Very unlikely to happen. You are left with one choice. Hire a lawyer and try to sue the dealership for damages. A very expensive proposition with only a limited chance of success…Good Luck…


Dealers are independently owned franchises and it’s been this way as long as I’ve been alive which is a fair number of decades.

It’s no different than the Burger King on the corner or the Ace Hardware located in the strip mall. All independently owned franchises. Same for Sears Hometown, McDonalds, or countless others.

I agree with Caddyman that a replacement car or paint job is unlikely (as in never…) going to happen.

A car manufacturer can yank a dealer’s franchise agreement if they want to but the odds of this happening are slim to none. As long as the dealer sells cars the only way they will pull a franchise would be if something is horribly chronic and horribly egregious. We’re talking fraud to the nth degree.

If you push it with a lawyer you MAY get some movement but that’s pretty iffy at best. They may buckle and offer to take the car back in trade with an allowance on a new one. That’s probably not a palatable alternative either.


Perhaps I overstated the lighting needed to see them. However, it doesn’t seem you know that dark colors, particularly in the dark grey / black family don’t show their scratches under certain lighting. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the scratches are there, shouldn’t be there, on a new car.

It should be a given that all dealerships have work areas where they have bright enough lighting that will show scratches that are less visible in darker colors.

You seem to miss the point that Toyota simply doesn’t do anything about dealer problems other than go through a feeble process of sending the dealer the complaint, with the dealer knowing that Toyota won’t do anything, because of their wantonly negligent lack of making anyone who wants to be their dealer sign a contract that OBLIGATES the dealer to properly customer complaint issues, i.e. fix damage that was there from the time the car was sold. It’s obvious that Toyota, & perhaps other car mfrs., simply don’t give a d*mn; otherwise, they’d have put this into the contract the dealer signs. Toyota HAS to have a contract - if they didn’t, they’d be destroyed by their dealerships.

As I used as an example, with this “its between you and the dealership”, if something went wrong with your engine, and the dealer “fixed” the engine, and the mechanic was incompetent and ruined the engine, you’d have no recourse with Toyota’s policy, if the dealer said they repaired it correctly, and that you the owner must have done something to ruin the repaired engine. That’s absurd, but that is how it could play out with how Toyota describes their policy.

I’m not asking for anything unreasonable at all, nor is it that expensive for the dealer to sand and repaint a door and a fender, and realize they need to replace some or all of their detail team, and simply properly buff out the other parts I found scratches still there. It’s not like some incredibly expensive $10,000 job. I shouldn’t have to go through hiring a lawyer, going to court. That’s simply ridiculous. If my state and other states cannot protect the auto consumer, it is simply filthy connections between corporations and the states, and is beyond disgraceful, dishonest, and deplorable.

I see “lot damage” repairs pass though the system where I work at least once a week, when processing 100 cars a day someone is going to complain about a scratch or dent whether it occurred on the property or not. These complaints are normally taken care of without question.

A few years ago I performed a recall on a 15 year old car, afterwards the owner claimed that all of the door dings on the car occurred while we had the car. The service manager chose not to argue the situation with the customer and had the dent repair specialist take out the dents.

Your car may have been scratched while in the service department, then you accused the body shop for the damage even though the car had not yet been in the body shop that day. How should the body shop manager have reacted? This sort of fishing for free repairs occurs every day. You should have discussed this damage with your service advisor, if the damage was not documented on the write-up inspection form he or she may have arranged for a repair.

As far as reason for dealers being franchises, imaging the cost to the manufacture for the real estate and buildings for 4000 locations. The small dealer that I work for sold for 25 million dollars in 2005.

I didn’t accuse the body shop mgr. of doing the damage. I said that someone at the dealership did the damage, as it wasn’t there prior to coming to the dealership. Yes, I thought these deep, new scratches happened while in the service department, as the car had not even been in the body shop area at that point.

The body mgr’s immediate, strong reaction, insisting that the damage had to be there before I came to the dealership, along with his sudden lies that no detail employees were there when my appointment was made for them to buff out the remaining scratches I informed him about months before - this all smells very foul. That much should be evident. You don’t jump down a customer’s throat immediately when something like this is found. That places suspicion on him

And, yes, the service manager (aka, Customer Relations Mgr, wearing 2 hats) who just this week called me after I submitted my complaint to Toyota to bark at me that they severed all relationships with me) and the body shop manager had a private pow-wow when the new deep scratch damage was found my me. Then the service mgr. left the entire service area, and I was left with the body shop mgr. where more words were exchanged.

Both these managers knew I was a fanatic at keeping the car in showroom condition. So I hardly fit the profile of the slimy sort of customer fishing for free repairs. They knew the evidence pointed to someone at the dealership being responsible for this, and they are simply too CHEAP to fix it.

It sounds like the dealer you work or worked for would never had handled my situation the way this dealership did.

As far as write-up inspections, consider this: The body shop manager NEVER wrote up the first buffing, nor wrote any write-up inspection. That is the very thing my local body shop owner asked me about, and when I told him he didn’t provide me with any paperwork, he used words to describe the body shop mgr. I can’t put in print here. I was ignorant. I should have asked for paperwork, but was too naive and trusting, and now there isn’t even documentation on the prior buff job, though I doubt they could deny that they did buff it.

The body shop manager is the wrong person to complain to about your service department experience and the person with the least authority to approve of internal damage repairs.

That would be an inspiration to cut ties with a customer who may never be satisfied.

I’d be concerned with attempts to remedy the situation by “buffing out” these scratches (“2 different buffing pads & compounds”.) .

Even if it could be buffed enough to remove these scratches the result could be worse than living with the scratches. I’d be afraid that the top clear-coat would be thinned so much in some areas that it will not last long when exposed to normal elements. I’ve seen this happen. Scratches get buffed out, wearing away some/most of the clear-coat, looking good, then within a year or two the buffed areas look like heck.

Sounds like the scratches run too deep (right through the clear) and it needs to be repainted (or at least parts of it), but then be prepared for not liking those results. Oh, and be prepared for a pretty large bill.

One can’t go back in time, but I’m thinking the scratches should have been discovered prior to purchasing this scratched car and since it wasn’t then it could be a better choice to just forget about not doing a more thorough pre-purchase inspection (like your post-purchase inspection) and live with it. This could be one of those live and learn moments in time.

This is one of those things I enjoy about buying used cars rather than new cars. They come with very minor imperfections, pre-installed, that I see, acknowledge, decide to accept, and live with. I don’t have to stress over them and if I get a new minor imperfection I sometimes honestly don’t know if it’s new or was always there and missed it or forgot about it. It is much less stressful.

Since this car is no longer new, think of it as “pre-owned” by yourself, accept it and worry about important things, like family and friends.

After all, this is a Camry, a family car, a grocery-getter, not a show car.
You’ll drive yourself crazy otherwise.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

I think you give the “detailers” at the dealership too much credit Most have two types; those who work on used cars to make them shine for the used car lot, and those that “prep” new cars. Prepping new cars may be limited to removing packaging material and a wash and dry. I have purchased/leased many new cars, and only one dealer even clayed new cars. When a car is sold “Detailing” is another quick wash and some tire shine.

I have been a body man and a licensed Jaguar concours judge. I doubt that I would ever use a dealership body shop. Ask around and find the best detail shop in your area. Get their opinion.

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At the time the buffing/detailing was done, I was ignorant of knowing what Ben & common_sense_answer outlined about “detailers”. I wish I had done my homework before, but to be honest, this is only the 2nd new car I ever owned, the other being a Nova when I was teenager.

I’m really worried now about how MUCH clear coat they buffed off. I don’t know who these detailers were. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe they are the ones who “prep” new cars. I dealt with them when I initially bought the car, and I didn’t have the knowledge I do now. If I did, after I had seen the 3 or 4 small areas of scratches under the light where it was parked & where they had done some of the final “prepping”, I would have had it moved to an area where the lighting would have been sufficient to reveal all the scratches.

If I was not constrained by time (since I had a rental car bill going up by the day), I would have just said forget it, and, by law, demanded my credit card be recredited and the deal nixed.

I will go to the very best detail shop recommended by my local body shop owner, and by reviews to get their opinion; though I don’t know that they will be able to tell how much clear coat has been buffed away.

BEN, perhaps you can tell me what can be determined in this situation.

Someone needs a new hobby…



You have a very good point. Even if they had followed through with buffing the car further, the clear-coat, which they may already have taken half of it off, could end up being very thin when the Neanderthals get done.

The scratches that happened 2 weeks ago, somewhere in the service area I would assume, (that was during the “appointment” to buff the other scratches existing from day one), this new damage is too deep to buff. That was the only thing the body mgr. was correct about. My local body guy asked me if I gently place my nail near the scratches, & felt a ridge going over them, it was through the clear.

As I state in my answer to Ben & to you, I should have known more about having some lackies at a dealership just buff away when one uninvolved “Customer Service” person at the dealership told me on the phone that they don’t have their own detailers (except the “prep” kids); that they are 3rd party.

Another lie from the Body Mgr. I had asked him when I was there if the detailers were 3rd party, and he told me, no - they are employed by the dealership.

My biggest concern now is that I have NO paperwork on them doing this work.

Yeah, I think you need a new hobby instead of going through the topics and posting snarky insults to the author of a thread…

BI wasn’t happy with the orange peel on the sides of my Acura, so at about 200 miles I went over it with 2000 grit sandpaper, buffed and polished with different compounds and two different pads and I was happy. All the cars had the less than ideal paint from the factory so I just brought it up to my standards myself. Of course I told Acura I didn’t like the paint but just did it myself. Now on our 86 Buick that had been touched up at the factory, the dealer said the recleated it again before polishing. I don’t know if they did or not but they took care of it.

I think at this point just take it to a detailed and they may say the sides need to be recleated first. Sometimes it’s easier to just take care of it yourself for a few hours work or a couple hundred dollars than beating your head against the wall. Of course I’ve been wrong before.

Um, re clear coat, not cleated. iPad problem.

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I just knew anything I posted on this thread would get a negative response from the OP. Why? because that’s what happened to everyone who offered advice. So I chose snark over substance as it was more amusing to me personally. :slightly_smiling_face: