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The Ultimate Used Car Inspection Guide

Inspect a used vehicle like a Pro! Everything you need to know - All in one place.

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EXTERIOR: INSPECTING THE PAINTWORK

Just because a used car has been repainted doesn’t mean it isn’t a good deal. However, although repainting is not a major issue in itself, the reason why it was repainted might be. If you detect a repaint, it might indicate the possibility that the vehicle has been involved in a collision. Be sure to get a second opinion from a mechanic or auto body specialist to make sure there is no frame damage.

Uneven Colouring

Carefully check the paint job for a consistent paint finish taking note that the paint should be the same shade all over the car. If the paint seems uneven it probably had some damage and was repainted.
TIP: Look at the sides of the car from end-on for waviness that might indicate a re-spray. Sometimes it helps to wear sunglasses when looking at the vehicle from the side to be able to see the different shades if the vehicle was repainted.

Tape Lines (Edges)

Body shops tape off door and window panels in order to ensure precise paint work. Run your finger along the edges of the joints between panels as well as on the inside of the door handles; roughness often indicates residue left from masking tape. (A factory paint job will be smooth while a repaint will feel a bit coarse.)

Overspray

Sometimes body shops cannot completely avoid over spraying some areas or body panels. Inspect the surface including the running boards & bumpers for paint globules that might indicate the car has been repainted.

Bolts & Screws

If a used car has been damaged, body shops often finds it easier to remove certain body panels & fenders to have them sprayed before being replaced. Carefully inspect the bolts and screws to check for chipped paint or overspray. Often a tell-tale sign is when looking at the screws holding the door mouldings in place.

VIN Stickers

Most cars, although not all, come with VIN plates on the removable body panels that have the car’s VIN on them for identification purposes. They are on security paper and are tamper-proof. A missing VIN sticker or traces of paint on a VIN sticker, could mean that the panels have been replaced with aftermarket parts or re-sprayed.
Remember, detecting that a vehicles has been repainted does not necessarily mean that you’re getting a bad deal, but it could be used with the seller to negotiate a better price.
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