The Eyes Never Lie: Paintwork Exposed

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When a trader is buying a second hand car he uses some pretty cool tech to discover the story of your vehicle, it’s history and hidden truths. You don’t need the tech to get information that the seller isn’t telling you though.

Paintwork tells a thousand stories but most of the general public won’t know what they are looking for. Experienced traders can take one look at a car and know if it has had any previous paintwork, what kind of care has been put into the repair and the most likely reason for the repair, all from a few small tell tale signs. So let’s have a look at some common shows and what they tell you.

Painting bodywork after an incident is not as simple as it sounds. Matching colour is the hardest part, especially on older cars that have been subject to a little paint wearing. Stone chips are particularly hard to repair without painting the whole bonnet. There are lots of car paint protection products on the market to prevent these annoying blips.

Overspray is a clear sign of paint repair. Most cars are painted in the factory before rubber seals and door handles are installed. Professional repair shops should remove parts or mask up any seals they don’t want sprayed. Lift the bonnet, open the doors, take a really good look for any signs of overspray, also you can look for a mask line, where a build up of paint has met the tape. If you see any of these things, ask the owner why the car had to be painted.

One of the easiest signs to spot is dimpling. Imagine the surface of an orange then look over the angles of the car, most specifically the quarter panels. Rear wings often suffer this dimpling when painted. This means your car has had a repair of some kind. Another good sign of repair are the common ‘flat spots.’ Poorly prepped paint jobs often result in an area that looks less bright than the rest of the car. Whilst dimpling is very hard to avoid on a repair and could mean nothing more than a scratch repair, flat spots are not. A flat spot will tell you the paint shop who has made this repair have cut corners. Worth a little more investigating. What other corners have they cut?

Looking at the lines of a car, where the door gaps and bonnet gaps are, is another useful way of finding out if the car has been in an accident. Aftermarket parts quite often don’t sit with the same equal spacing. And, more worryingly, if the car has had hard impact on the front and heavy repair, you will see that the bonnet lines are not quite equal. These are clues and they shouldn’t be ignored.

The more you know about the car, the better. Do you really want to put your children in a vehicle that has been in a severe front shunt and may have a weakened chassis? No.