Is The Used Car You're About To Purchase Been Painted?

Orange Peal?

 So you’re in the market to purchase a used vehicle. One consideration that you should have is whether the vehicle that you’re interested in purchasing has had previous paint work. Why? Because first of all, all things being equal with two comparable vehicles, if one has paint work and the other doesn't, the value of the painted vehicle will be substantially less. How much less you ask? It depends on the extent of the paint work. If it’s just a bumper then not much; if it’s the whole car, it could be thousands.

The question is, how do you tell if a vehicle has had previous paint work? You could do a vehicle history report through Carfax although a Carfax or vehicle history report isn’t always the gospel. Not only that, but more than likely you’ll have to pay a fee to run the report. The best way to determine if a vehicle has had previous paint work is to know how to determine that yourself by knowing where to look and what to look for.

So what are you looking you ask? Well first things first. Whenever you’re inspecting a vehicle, make sure the lighting is more than adequate, and do it in a dry area. In other words, if you’re doing this at night in the rain it will be harder to see what you’ll be looking for.

The first thing that you want to look for is any color difference between the panels of the vehicle. Black and white solid paint colors are easier to match as opposed to a color that has what’s called “Metal flake” in the paint. Some metal flake colors are almost impossible to match, and can easily be spotted by even a novice.

Also, when you looking at the panels make sure you look at them at an angle as opposed to straight on. Looking at the vehicle from an angle will reveal differences in the way the paint is laying on the panel. What you’re looking for is what painters call “Orange peel.” Orange peel is just what it sounds like. If the painter did a lousy job, the panel will resemble the texture of an orange. It will have high and low spots in the paint as well as looking like it has pits. An experienced painter would have wet sanded the panel to eliminate the orange peel, but many won’t go to the extra work.

The next place to look is on the molding of the vehicle. Carefully inspect the moldings for over spray. When a vehicle is painted from minor damage, in most cases the moldings are left on the vehicle which means there is a good chance of over spray being left on the molding. Also, look on the bottom side of a molding carefully. That’s usually the best place to see overspray because when the molding was taped attention to detail was give more to the top side of the molding as opposed to the bottom.

Another obvious place where you can spot overspray is in the wheel wells. If a fender or quarter panel was painted, you can find overspray in the wheel well in many cases.   

The next place you want to inspect is the door jams of the vehicle. Also while you have the doors open look at the black rubber moldings that seal the door. Over spray is easy to spot on the black moldings. When looking in the door jams, pay close attention to the factory vehicle I.D. plate. Unless the painter is extremely detailed in taping the door, over spray will be evident inside the door jam.

The glass of the vehicle can be another potential area where overspray will be evident. Carefully inspect all the glass on the vehicle paying close attention around the outside edges of the glass. If the hood of the vehicle has paint work, many times the windshield will show signs of over spray. While you’re looking at the glass, inspect the headlights and the tail lights of the vehicle for any sign of over spray.

The deck lid (trunk) is another place that needs inspection which can also reveal overspray on the black rubber molding as well in the jams of the trunk. Same thing with the hood of the vehicle; you need to open that and pay close attention. I’ve seen overspray on engines which is an obvious dead giveaway.


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Tolovaj profile image

Tolovaj 23 months ago

Thanks for all the tips. Buying a used car is demanding task and we should use all the help available. Thumbs up!

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