Look for rust along the frame rails which run directly under the doors. You should also check for rust inside the wheel wells and along the exhaust system. Irregular lines in the paint often mean the car was damaged and repainted. Look along the body contour for any bumps or waves.
Let’s take a closer look at how to check any vehicle for rust, body damage, or repainting.
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Inspecting A Car For Rust
Rust can be a car killer. Newer models resist rust much better than older vehicles, but no car is 100% immune. Vehicles driven in humid areas are even more vulnerable. Also, cars that see a lot of snow, ice, and salt covered roads tend to rust faster.
When checking for rust, try to get the car up on a lift to get a better look. If this is not possible, prepare to get a bit dirty as you slide under the car. Using a flashlight, look at any piece of metal you can.
Don’t forget to check door, hood, and trunk hinges and their molding areas as rust can appear there. Finally, look under the trunk carpet. You might be surprised to find a patch of rust hiding under there. Remember, rust in usual places might mean the vehicle has seen water damage.
Inspecting A Car’s Paint Job
These days, repainted cars can be look good as new. But a repainted car might have been damaged in an accident or may be hiding rust spots.
First take an overall look at the car and specifically for bubbling paint. Oxidation under the paint often shows up this way.
Next look sideways along the natural trim lines of the car. If you see variation, it could be due to past damage. Finally, look at each panel one-by-one to make sure you didn’t miss any imperfection. You can check for irregular gaps between panels during the body paint inspection as well.
Even though it’s best to look in good light, a bright day might hide imperfections due to glare. The ideal conditions for inspection are outside, on a sunny day, but in the shade.
If you suspect that a part of the body was repaired with body filler, test it with a small magnet. If the magnet doesn’t stick, then there’s filler underneath.
Rust Is Not Always A Deal Breaker
Remember, any car can eventually rust. If the used model you’re looking at is several years old, then some rust might be acceptable. You can always repair the rusted area after purchase.
A qualified used vehicle inspection might be useful in this instance. An inspector can tell if a vehicle has an excessive amount of rust for its age. They also know which nooks and crannies to look into for rust and other defects that an inexperienced eye might miss.
Order a pre-purchase car inspection on any vehicle before you buy. Contact CARCHEX to set up an inspection today.
Published in CARCHEX Vehicle Inspection Resources by CARCHEX on February 15, 2016