Members of the VW California Club will have been following the voluminous pages of forum chatter on the topic of the dreaded ‘roof rot’ for several years now – and the issue shows no sign of going away.
For the unitiated, there’s a design flaw in the manufacture of the aluminium elevating roof in the VW California campervan. At least, all of the owners who have experienced bubbling paintwork along the perimeter of the roof and on the front panel between the roof and the windscreen are absolutely certain it’s a design fault. Only VW themselves are refusing to admit this and instead, have offered to repair affected T5 vans up to six years old at no cost to their owners “as a gesture of goodwill“.
I’ve recently updated my Key Facts document which summarises the 150+ pages of forum posts on the issue affecting T5 vans. This has become a central point of reference to help bring owners up to speed on the issues, possible causes and remedies.
But over the last year the roof rot has been spreading …
The significant development is that not only are many (most?) T5 Californias produced during 2005-15 are affected, but now some new T6 Californias also have bubbling paintwork.
Let’s just take a step back to consider this for one moment. We know VW had to introduce three different methods to repair the front panel VW here in the UK and presumably used this knowledge to change the design of the front panel for the T6. But despite many, many thousands of T5 Californias across Europe receiving repairs to the paint bubbling around the roof perimeter paid for by VW, they still didn’t know how to rectify the manufacturing process for the T6. This is just staggering.
So where does this leave owners of T6 Californias ?
Well at present, VW Commercial Vehicles don’t officially recognise the issue – although half of the T6s completing a California Club forum survey have reported bubbling paintwork. The existing “goodwill” offer by VW to repair affected roof panels beyond the standard three years to six years currently only relates to T5s. And last but certainly not least, VW don’t appear to know what’s causing the issue let alone how to repair it.
It’s all a bit of a mess really. And it does VW’s already-tarnished reputation no good at all.
Fortunately, behind the scenes the VW California Club are talking to VWCV and putting a strong case to get this whole saga cleared up once and for all. It’s VW’s issue and they need to take responsibility for clearing it up.
In the meantime, the best advice I can give is to check your van thoroughly and take it to your local VW dealer to get any roof corrosion registered and ‘in the queue’ for repairs. But please don’t let it stop you from getting out and enjoying your Cali.