Buying a used car is so much easier these days with a car’s history so easily discoverable via fact-finding agencies like Carfax and AutoCheck. But no matter how efficient these companies are, every event in a vehicle’s life is not always accounted for. For example, if a previous car-owner has paid out-of-pocket for a repair job, this fact may not automatically show up in a history-finder report because there is no paper trail.
So what do you do?
Interestingly auto painting can reveal some well-kept secrets, if you know how and where to look. All collision repair shops are not created equal and mistakes often get made when a damaged car is put back together. Many clues, born of these mistakes, hide in the auto paint, and we’re going to show you how to find them:
#1: Orange Peel Patches
Most finished cars have some degree of orange peel in the paint, because the paint hits the car at a high momentum when released from a paint gun. Check every body panel closely and try to locatesigns of orange peel in the paint. If you find some, you’ll know the car has had some bodywork done, even if the history report does not mention it.
#2: Chipping Paint On Bolt Heads
Auto painting done in the factory on brand new cars produces a smooth and seamless finish on bolt heads. If you notice that the bolt heads have chipped, balding, rusty patches around the edges, it is safe to assume that some repainting has taken place.
#3: Faulty Color Match
Cars come with individual paint codes, which makes it easy for auto body shops to make up the same color with computerized painting equipment. But there aren’t any guarantees that the new paint will always be an exact match. There can be variances in the same paint code, depending for example on where the car was built, and this may cause a slight variance. A trained eye searching for such variations in the auto painting will probably find it by looking and comparing panels from different angles and in different light conditions.
#4: Dust Under The Paint
Auto repair is a dusty affair. Reputable auto body shops go to great lengths to ensure that their painting zone is hermetically sealed and dust-free, but all shops are not that particular. Look fortelltale signs of raised particles under the paint with a magnifying glass. You may well find indications on the used car that dust particles or some other debris is caught under the paint.
#5: Skid Marks From Sanding
Check body panels for subtle skid marks left behind by a less-than-perfect sanding job. This is another surefire sign that the car has been repaired and refinished.