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7 ON YOUR SIDE tackles peeling plastic problem in smart cars

7 ON YOUR SIDE tackles peeling plastic problem in smart cars. (ABC7)

It starts as a little bubble here. A tiny blister there. And then, it comes off like a scab.

“And that’s my baby with the crappy paint job,” complained Ruth Dumont as she peeled of another piece.

The problem is peeling plastic on some 2008-2009 smart cars, a product now distributed in the U.S. by Mercedes.

“I'm pretty upset cause I like my little car,” Myra King told 7 On Your Side.

Like Dumont, her smart car has peeled so much, the formerly bright fire-engine red paint color is a now a dull dark pinkish red.

“I should be able to get in my car and be joyous,” added Dumont. “But then I see this. And it's disheartening.”

Dumont lives in Maryland and King in Virginia, but they found dozens of other disheartened smart car owners across the country on a Facebook page dedicated to the topic.

One driver claimed to be successful in small claims court. Another got a repair for a few hundred dollars. But Dumont’s repair estimate was $2800; King’s was $6000.

“I think Mercedes should step up to the plate,” said King.

Dumont agreed, so 7 ON YOUR SIDE asked.

Mercedes spokesman Christian Bokich answered, "We believe that we have taken a careful and customer-oriented approach with both customer concerns. Although not required, we were pleased to also offer both customers goodwill financial assistance that was customized based on their particular needs. When new, the two vehicles in question (model years 2008 and 2009) had 2-year warranties, so the expiration of those warranties has long since passed."

But we also wanted to know how many reports of peeling smart cars does Mercedes have? Did the 2008-2009 batch have the most problems? And what can consumers do outside the warranty period?

Bokich replied, "I'm afraid that we have no more info to provide and that's all we can offer at this time."

As for that financial assistance Mercedes offered? For Dumont, a $350 credit toward repairs; for King, a $1,000 credit; and to both, $1,000 off the purchase of a new car.

“I think that's crazy, I don't want a Mercedes, I want my car,” said King.

“I saved every penny for this car and plan to drive it til I die,” said Dumont.

But Dumont is not going down quietly. She drives around with a giant sign warning others, “BUY A SMART CAR & WATCH THE PAINT PEEL OFF RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES.”

And when people ask, she tells them that she feels her smart car purchase wasn’t.

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