Car Care: To repair or not repair
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DIY paint jobs harm the selling process, writes Jack Biddle
Thinking of selling your car but it has a few small dents and bruises that you think may affect its appeal or asking price?
Or have you recently bought a vehicle and discovered a short time later it has had a quick five-minute makeover to give the impression it was in near-perfect condition at time of sale?
Either way, it's sometimes better presenting or viewing a car in its "original" condition rather than a seller trying a DIY touch-up at home or asking the local panelbeater or painter to do a cheap and quick tidy-up before sale.
I notice so many cars in supermarket carparks or parked in driveways that have one standout panel where the paint has either delaminated, faded or crazed badly. The paint condition on the other panels is usually fine.
It's a sure sign that previous repairs have been carried out in that one area and unfortunately not done very well, or carried out to a very low budget.
Because vehicles are now painted using a clear coat over a base coat system, it is virtually impossible to carry out a touch-up in the garage at home on a prominent panel without the correct equipment (including health protection) and get it to successfully match the original finish and for it to be a lasting repair.
When buying into the used market, potential buyers should expect a few imperfections when looking at older vehicles, and always be a little suspicious when a vehicle is presented without the slightest mark or defect showing.
When you are looking at buying a secondhand vehicle, always cast a careful eye over the paintwork looking for that mismatch in colour. And check all door and window trims and rubbers for any signs of over-spray.
Regardless of age, fresh paintwork can be a sign of a simple touch-up having been undertaken, or it may indicate something a lot more sinister under that new paint job that requires more in-depth investigation.
Another good and simple check is on a vehicle's front windscreen.
If the paintwork on the bonnet and front guards is near-perfect but you have your suspicions they may have been repainted, check the windscreen for signs of peppering from loose road chip. Glass, bonnet and bumper damage from flying stones normally go hand-in-hand.
There's nothing wrong with a repainted panel - many used vehicle traders are often the local painter's best customers - but when trying to sell privately, it's often better to present a vehicle in its original condition. No secrets and no surprises that way for the buyer and peace of mind for the seller.
Tidying the paintwork around bumpers, guards and bonnets is a common part of used-car reconditioning before vehicles are placed on the yard for sale and used-car dealers sometimes use mobile painters to carry out this work on site. My sources tell me this repair method is reasonably successful but longevity is never guaranteed and paint fade can be a telltale sign of the rework sometime down the track.
The cheaper the used car, the cheaper any paint or panel repairs are likely to be.
To help avoid the minor dents and scratches in the first place, it's sometimes best to park well clear of other vehicles in carparks when possible and make sure the kids don't use the family car as a convenient leaning post for their bikes and scooters.
Trying to avoid cosmetic damage is the best policy, but the odd battle scar over time is often unavoidable and best either ignored or handed to a professional if you want the perfect long-lasting repair.