How To Inspect A Car For Body Damage | Telltale Signs a Car Was Painted or Was in a Collision

Hey, what’s goin’ on?!

In this video, I will talk about how to inspect a car for body damage. I’ll teach you how to tell if the car was ever repainted, to see of it has been in an accident before, what to check out for, etc.

You can use this if you are looking to buy a project car that you are wanting to customize or restore for yourself, if you’re doing a DIY project or if you’re into buying and selling cars for profit and you need to inspect a car that you’re thinking of buying. These are the things that you need to look out for.

I have a ‘97 M Edition Mazda Miata. Watch the video as I show you it has the original paint and that it has never been in an accident.

The very first thing you have to check on a car to see if it has ever been in an accident is to check on the body lines. I would feel for them. As long as there’s no big differences in gapping, that tells me it has never been in a collision. On my Miata, everything looked really well.

If it has been repainted, you’ll see overspray or marks from masking. Check it out thoroughly. All the areas should have matching paints. Another important thing is, you check the rocker panels – this is one way to tell if the car has been beat up. Just look at the lib underneath the rocker panel. Sometimes when people jack up their cars, it will leave indent marks. That shows that it hasn’t been taken care of very well.

The door jambs look great on this Miata, however you can see in the video that the driver’s seat door has a little sag, the door alignment is not a perfect fit. It’s off just a little bit. You have to lift it up just a bit when closing it. The door latch looks a little beat up. That means the door has to be adjusted, just align it better. Not a big deal, just very little, about ⅛ of an inch maybe. I’ll show you exactly how I do that in my next video.

I move along checking out the trunk, the gaps. It looks even to me. The next thing you do is, pop the trunk’s hood and make sure they latch evenly as well. Everything looks good, no overspray marks inside so that tells me even more that this car has it’s original paint on, it hasn’t been repainted.

Judging by the alignment of the car overall, I can tell off the bat that it hasn’t been in an accident. But if you’re suspicious and can’t tell if it has been in an accident…what you can do is, pull back the carpet inside the trunk and you can check on the frame support. This Miata’s look solid but if you take off the carpet where the spare tire is usually and you see cracks or wrinkles, most probably it has been through a rear-end collision. You may have some weather stripping and even water coming in if the body is not correctly aligned. Also, if you smell mildew in the trunk…that’s a good sign that something might not be right due to a prior accident that has caused some leaking and damage.

Of course, you can also check under the car. Watch the video as I show you the whole bumper support. On the Miata, everything looked cleaned, aligned and whole so that automatically tells me it was never in a rear-end collision.

We also checked out the hood. Sometimes, you can tell if it’s been adjusted by looking at the bolts, on the hinges, look at the inner fenders if it’s been painted or not. Same thing, check on the latch, the frame from underneath the light, check for wrinkles, dents and cracks.

Make sure you watch the video to see how I checked the Mazda Miata out and how you can do exactly the same checking on your car.

Quite frankly, if your car ever gets into a collision, I can honestly say that most body shops and repair guys out there make crappy jobs. Only about 2-3% of the body shops maybe can really fix the car to where you can’t tell it was in an accident. This is the type of work that I like to do. I used to get Salvaged title cars from auctions all the time. I don’t buy as many Salvaged, damaged cars as I used to but I would do frame repairs on them and get the seamings – you have to be anal about that kind of stuff – once you get your seamings and alignment exactly right, when people look at it, they will never be able to tell that it was in an accident.

Overall, this car has 100% original paint, never in an accident. All we have to do is probably align the driver’s seat door and that’s easy, it’ll take us very quick to fix that and I’ll show it to you in the next videos.

If you’re a DIY guy looking into auto body and painting, customizing your own cars – be sure to check out the LearnAutoBodyAndPaint VIP Training Course.

I’m also giving away a FREE 85-Page Auto Body and Paint Manual. There’s tons of great tips, tricks, training inside it.

Thanks for watching the video. I hope you got a good idea on how to inspect a car for body damage.

I’ll see you in the next videos. We’ll fix the small dents on this Miata and do an overall paint job. When we do the painting, I’ll teach you how to avoid overspray by proper and correct masking and taping. There’s a ton of things I want to share with you.

Don’t forget to like the video, share it, subscribe to us on YouTube and let me know what you think in the comments below. 🙂

I’ll see you soon!



Other Helpful Links:

How To Paint A Car Video 1

How To Paint A Car Video 3

How To Auto Body And Paint Q&A – Part 1

DIY Auto Body Work And Painting Q&A – Part 2

How To Paint Cars – Q&A Part 3

How To Block Sand Primer Flat

How To Pinstripe A Motorcycle Tank

How To Paint A Motorcycle Yourself

Preview Finished BMW Body Kit Video

Warwick Spray Gun Review (what we use to paint at LABAP)

2 thoughts on “How To Inspect A Car For Body Damage | Telltale Signs a Car Was Painted or Was in a Collision”

  1. Tony, The first thing I thought of when you were demonstatrating how the drivers side door doesn’t close quite perfectly during your video on checking out your Miata for damage or having been repainted, was the possibility that the door hinge or hinge bushings might be worn, causing that door to sag. I work mostly on late ’60’s – early ’70’s american muscle cars and it is a common problem because the doors are heavy and the drivers door always gets used more than the passenger door. Wnen the door is open, the weight of it is all hanging on the hinges, stressing the bushings. You might demonstrate this by lifting on the latch-end of the open door, looking for play in the hinge.

    • Thanks Scott. I know exactly what you are taking about but it’s not the case with the Miata. The hinges are solid. I did move the door up and down to check for play. It just needed a quick bend upward. It shuts perfectly now. Thanks for the comment!! I’ll have another video on that soon.


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