Used Car Inspection

How to Inspect a
Car for Paint & Bodywork


How to inspect a car for paint & bodywork...
The 2nd of 8 steps in the used car inspection guide.


In the second step to a thorough used car inspection, you'll want to take a close look at the paint and the body of the car for signs of prior damage.

At first glance, you'll want to inspect the paint for orange peel. This is an indicator that a car has been painted.

Most paint jobs from the factory are smooth and glossy.

That being said, there are some manufacturers that are notorious for orange peel paint jobs. Not a terrible thing, but make sure the panels of the car match, i.e. is the left rear quarter panel orange peeled and the rest of the car is smooth and glossy. If so, that's a sign that work has been done.


5 Other Areas To
Inspect For Paint & Bodywork

  1. Over spray
    on the moldings.

    Check window moldings and door handles. Any over spray on these moldings is a clear indication of a repainted car.

    Brand new cars have no moldings on them when they are painted at the factory and therefore, there is zero chance of there being paint on the moldings.

  2. Check door jams and
    engine compartment for different colors.

    If it was a cheap paint job, they will typically not take the time to paint these areas.

  3. Fish eyes.

    This is were sand or dirt gets on the car during a repaint and is then painted over or hits the paint while it's wet.

    As the name implies, this looks just a fish eye. Highly unlikely you'd ever see anything like this from the factory. In fact, next to impossible.

  4. Feel for tape lines.

    Tape lines are easy to feel and are a sure indication of a repaint. Run your finger across the inner edge of the hood (near the windshield) or with the hood up, against the fenders. You'll definitely notice the different feel and will probably be able to see it visually.

  5. Check the bolts.

    Look for bolts being "turned." If during your car buying inspection, you open up the driver door and notice any chrome on the bolts securing the hinge to the door, then this is a clear sign someone has removed the door.

    All hinge bolts will be painted from the factory. Look at all bolts on doors, hood and trunk hinges.


Now that you know how to inspect a car for paint & bodywork,
What would you like to do next?

< Go Back To Step 1
Walk Around
|Move On To Step 3 >
Frame Damage

Or you can...

Review the entire Used Car Inspection guide by returning from -
Paint and Bodywork to Used Car Inspection main page

Go to Insider Car Buying Tips home