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Panel damage to look out for when buying a 2nd hand car

If you’re in the market for a used car, you may have been shopping around for a while or you may have just started looking. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to buying a used car and there are pros and cons to using a dealer, an auction, or private sale. But what remains consistent, is what you need to look out for to ensure the used car you’re buying hasn’t been involved in any major accidents. There are background checks you can perform online using the VIN and registration but there are also key things to look out for on the panelling. Here are four signs of panel damage which could be pointing to something more serious when buying a 2nd hand car:

When a little rust is a sign of a lot of trouble

Rust is something that once it’s set in, is going to keep coming back. If a car hasn’t been rust-proofed properly, the rust will begin to show after 5/6 years. Now, there are levels of rust that are ok, such as surface rust. But there are levels that indicate a serious problem, such as within the frame. Rust corrosion can cause holes in the body or floor. This could potentially lead to dangerous issues such as the floor falling away. Or exhaust fumes leaking into the car. Look out for signs of major rust repair. If you suspect there is rust or there are signs of rust repair, contact a mechanic or panel beater to come and inspect the car before you buy.

Do the panels fit together like a jigsaw puzzle?

When a car comes out of the factory, each panel fits perfectly. So, a sure sign of repair, is when that fit becomes uneven. Can you see a large gap? What do the door panels look like when they’re closed? Always compare both sides as some differences in how the panels fit together can’t be easily spotted. It could look perfectly normal but when you compare it to the other side, you realise that there is quite a difference.

Is the paintwork smooth and the texture even?

Look very closely at the paint work. Any difference in texture could be an indication of fresh paint or body repair. Can you see sanding marks which have been painted over? How’s the texture of each panel? If it doesn’t look or feel very smooth when you run your hand over it, this could indicate that some work has been done. Again, think of factory-finished cars. The paint will be perfectly smooth when you run your hands over it. If it feels rough and uneven, it’s been repainted.

How the light reflects off the surface

The smoothness of paint surfaces is the easiest way to see whether any paint or body repair work has been carried out. If the surface is smooth, straight, and you can’t see any unevenness then it’s likely no work has been carried out. However, if you spot some areas which appear less smooth or they look uneven, this could be signs there has been some repair. This is why it’s so important to view a 2nd hand car during daylight hours.

Article provided by Sheen Group