15 GM Cars With The Worst Factory Paint Jobs (And 5 That'll Last Forever)

Buying a brand-new car can be a truly unique one-of-a-kind experience like no other, and one of the most memorable parts about it is seeing that beautiful new paint job on a car. Over the years, however, automotive paint quality has taken a turn for the worst, as automakers try increasingly harder to squeeze every dime of profit that they can out of their cars. General Motors is one of the oldest automakers in the world, with a plethora of well-known brands that have defined the way that we look at cars in every aspect. This holds true for many aspects of their product line, and there are some very well-known nameplates that come to mind when you think of GM.

In the past few decades, General Motors has worked steadily to improve long-term vehicle quality, and you can see much of this progress coming through in their latest products. In terms of long-term paint quality and ease of care, the entire line of vehicles has come a long way, especially since the late nineties models, which were notable for everything from peeling paint jobs to body rust. This rash of issues caused many to question the overall quality of GM vehicles, as it's never a pretty sight to have to repaint a car that you purchased new, and thus, on this list, we’ll be taking a look at the 15 worst GM factory paint jobs that have come off of the assembly line.

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20 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier


Chevrolet has worked hard to make a viable compact car product for decades, and the end result was the Chevrolet Cavalier.

The generation of the Cavalier that corresponds with the 2000 model year is notorious for two types of paint problems.

The first involves a good amount of clear coat peeling later in the car's life. Secondly, the Cavalier fleet models were well known for having the paint chip off in pieces, leaving grey primer marks wherever the paint fell off. It's not uncommon to see a 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier that looks like it's been through the junkyard. (Carcomplaints.com)

19 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe

Via: Bing

When the Chevrolet Tahoe came onto the scene in 1995, the model shaped the way that consumer SUVs were sold. Offering a serious blend of power and space, the Chevrolet Tahoe was the ultimate family vehicle for those who didn’t want to settle for a minivan. Paint chipping was a huge problem for this generation of the Tahoe, and even worse than paint chipping was the paint simply denigrating on the roofs of these models. The key to keeping one of these Tahoe models looking great is a lot of wax as well as garage storage; otherwise, the paint is toast. (Carcomplaints.com)

18 1999 GMC Yukon Denali

Via: Bing

Another notorious GM SUV that was released during the SUV boom of the late nineties, the GMC Yukon Denali had a beautiful new set of paint colors to choose from.

The main issue on these models was the paint peeling on the body cladding, which gave these models the signature look that separated them from a run-of-the-mill Yukon.

GM obviously had either not perfected the clear coat process or just invested in the really cheap quality paint. Either way, it's extremely frustrating to see your beautiful Yukon beginning to peel later in its life. (Carcomplaints.com)

17 2002 Buick Century

Via: Bing

The Buick Century is another notable car that was sold by GM during the nineties that suffered from the same paint defects as many other GM sedans that were sold at the time. The Century was sold as an entry-level Buick for the consumer who wanted a large and safe family sedan, and unfortunately, the paint on the Century is known for the same clear coat peeling that has plagued many different GM sedans in the last few decades. The 2002 model is especially notable for this issue, and it's hard to come across a Century that still has a relatively decent factory paint job. (Carcomplaints.com)

16 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

Via: Bing

During the late nineties, the Chevrolet brand was looking to reinvent itself, and in this time period, a variation of the legendary Monte Carlo nameplate was released that was questionable at best. The 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was known as the two-door Lumina because the car was basically a two-door version of the Chevrolet sedan at the time. The 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo was notorious for issues with regard to the factory paint job, with the clear coat and base coat having peeling issues early on. (Carcomplaints.com)

15 2003 Saturn Vue

Via: Bing

Saturn was a brand that General Motors engineered for the sole purpose of selling affordable compact cars to rival the import automakers, and for the majority of the company's lifespan, Saturn was an innovator in many aspects.

The Saturn Vue was the first SUV to be sold by the brand, and the little SUV was introduced to compete with the Toyota Rav4 and the Honda CRV.

The early models of the Saturn Vue had issues with the clear coat bubbling as well as the plastic bumpers becoming discolored. (Carcomplaints.com)

14 2005 Saturn Ion

Via: Bing

The 2005 Saturn Ion was the next generation of the popular compact Saturn sedan that had been sold since the nineties, and for the most part, the Saturn Ion is a stellar compact sedan with a unique style and a lot of great features. But sadly, the Saturn Ion suffered from many of the same issues that other GM vehicles do when it comes to issues with the paint job. The 2005 Saturn Ion in the sedan model was particularly prone to clear coat peeling as well as discoloration after a few years of ownership. (Carcomplaints.com)

13 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix

Via: Bing

The 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, being featured in the hit movie Lethal Weapon 3 as the vehicle driven by Danny Glover, is a particularly well-known vehicle.

The 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, offering a nice amount of factory performance and a big roomy interior that outclassed the import models at the time, was a great sedan in many aspects.

However, the 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix suffered from clear coat peeling, which was a shame because this generation of the Grand Prix actually came with some pretty decent factory paint jobs. (Carcomplaints.com)

12 2003 Pontiac Aztek

Via: Bing

Who can forget the 2003 Pontiac Aztek, a car that changed the face of the automotive industry by offering some of the most unique features to be seen in an SUV to date? However, the 2003 Pontiac Aztek had a major problem, and that was a large amount of grey body cladding that was used in the design of the SUV. This caused the Aztec to suffer from a serious amount of discoloration later in the vehicle's life, and the paint job suffered from the usual GM clear coat peeling as well. (Carcomplaints.com)

11 2000 Chevrolet Venture

Via: Bing

During the late nineties and the early 2000s, the Chrysler Corporation ruled the minivan market, and GM tried to counter the company's dominance with the Chevrolet Venture. While the 2000 Chevrolet Venture was an interesting minivan, to say the least, there were some aspects of the van that were cheaply made.

The paint job, for starters, was known for clear coat peeling as well as discoloration in the older models. 

These were common problems for the previous generation of GM vans as well. (Carcomplaints.com)

10 1996 Chevrolet Corsica

Via: Bing

Perhaps one of the most notable and cheap GM cars of the nineties, the 1996 Chevrolet Corsica was known for being a barebones compact car that was both affordable and roomier than other entries that were in this price range. But the 1996 Chevrolet Corsica has a notably faulty paint job, which is known not only for clear coat bubbling but also for sheer peeling. This can cause a pretty bad appearance, and this was along the lines of many other paint issues that plagued GM cars around this time period. (Carcomplaints.com)

9 1998 Chevrolet Malibu

Via: Bing

GM was at a crossroads during the nineties. With increased competition from the import automakers, the company had to introduce new models that would appeal to a more diverse demographic.

The 1998 Chevrolet Malibu was introduced to replace the aging Lumina sedan, and for the most part, the Malibu was better in every aspect.

However, the 1998 Chevrolet Malibu ultimately was known for experiencing the same paint issues as many other GM models of the same time period. (Carcomplaints.com)

8 2002 Saturn L-Series

Via: Bing

Saturn, as a brand, was looking to reinvent itself during the early part of the 2000s, and as such, the L-Series sedan was released as a larger and more luxurious alternative to the standard Saturn sedan and coupe, which had been sold since the early nineties. The 2002 Saturn L-Series was a great car, which offered a V6 engine and notable luxury features. However, the main issue with the L-Series pertained to the paint issues like other GM cars at the time suffered from. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no way to pinpoint what exactly causes these. (Carcomplaints.com)

7 1997 Pontiac Montana

Via: Bing

Like its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Venture, the 1997 Pontiac Montana was a combination of smart styling and great interior features, which made for a great alternative to the Chrysler Corporation monopoly on the minivan market.

Sadly, the 1997 Pontiac Montana was made with a whole lot of grey body cladding, which made the van look more rugged than the Venture, but it also added discoloration early on in the van's lifespan.

This was further aggravated if the van wasn't garage kept, which is the situation for most car owners. (Carcomplaints.com)

6 1996 Pontiac Sunfire

Via: Bing

Pontiac was, at one point, one of the most coveted brands in the GM portfolio, and during the nineties, the brand was really looking to get a footing on the market again. In terms of a compact car, the 1996 Pontiac Sunfire was an excellent option in many aspects, and it was for many different reasons, from performance to excellent exterior styling. The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire did suffer from the same paint peeling issues as many other GM cars did, and although these problems were alleviated in later model years, it still caused a rift with owners. (Carcomplaints.com)

5 1995 GMC Vandura (Will Last Forever)

Via: Bing

The GMC line of vehicles has always been the workhorse brand of the General Motors company and, for the most recent decade, has transitioned into a more prestigious and luxurious truck and SUV brand. The 1995 GMC Vandura was a notable workhouse van that we've all probably seen at least once, and unlike other GM vehicles that suffered from paint job issues, the 1995 GMC Vandura had one of the best paint jobs to come out of a GM factory, with many examples looking good to this day. (Cars.com)

4 2000 Chevrolet Express Van (Will Last Forever)

Via: Bing

Chevrolet is the premier brand in the GM portfolio of products, and as such, the company places a large focus on their commercial offerings. One of the longest-running nameplates in the Chevrolet brand has been the Chevrolet Express Van, which is still in production today.

The 2000 Chevrolet Express Van had an excellent paint scheme, which had a long-standing quality that has kept the paint jobs on these vans in pristine condition to this day.

The 2000 Chevrolet Express Van also used far less plastic cladding than other GM models, which has given the van a timeless look. (Cars.com)

3 2000 Chevrolet Blazer

Via: Bing

GM has introduced many different models over the past few decades, and the compact Blazer was one of their most popular models for a very long time. Pitted against vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee and the Ford Explorer, the Chevrolet Blazer combined a roomy interior and a decently appointed off-road setup for when you needed it. The 2000 Chevrolet Blazer had one of the best factory paint jobs to come on a GM vehicle, and you still see these Blazer models looking great on the road to this day. (Cars.com)

2 1998 Chevrolet Metro

Via: Bing

Who could forget the Chevrolet Metro (Formerly The GEO Metro), a car that's synonymous with fuel savings and a no-frills design that made this a popular affordable car for college students and first-time drivers alike?

The 1998 Chevrolet Metro incorporated a new paint scheme and quite a few new colors into the Metro line, and the quality of the paint that was used on these small cars was phenomenal.

In fact, to this day, you can still find Chevrolet Metros with their factory paint jobs that look excellent. (Cars.com)

1 1995 Geo Prizm

Via: Bing

When GM introduced the GEO line of cars through their Chevrolet dealership network, there was an "if you can’t beat them, join them" philosophy. Instead of attempting to compete with the ocean of import cars coming through, the company simply decided to slap some GM brand badges on import vehicles similar to what Chrysler did with the Eagle line. The 1995 Geo Prizm was a Toyota Corolla, and as such, this vehicle benefitted from one of the longest-lasting paint jobs that you'll find on a GM car. (Cars.com)

Sources: Carcomplaints.com, Cars.com

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