This Poor Porsche 911 GTS was sporting the full spectrum of bodyshop finishing faux pas.
Thankfully it was a nice bright day so the imperfections were clearly visible and although I took no satisfaction whatsoever in pointing them out, especially considering the owner’s a massive fanboy and fellow YouTuber, the fact is if you’re serious about your car care you need to understand them and once these things have been seen – they can’t be unseen!
Now it’s worth mentioning that despite the collection of cosmetic flaws shown here, the motor was had for good money and after spending 8 or 9 hours around it (which included a spirited spin around the block in sport plus mode) I can testify that it was legit in every other respect, so with that informed perspective – onwards with the video.
Upon initial inspection then, the first thing to catch my eye was the classic holograms and buffer trails. These are easy to spot in the right light as they appear to jump out at you at certain angles much like an actual hologram. They’re incredibly common, are caused by improper use of a rotary polisher and are quite easily rectified with a light to moderate dual action machine polish.
Interestingly, a lot of non detailing-oriented folk will actually associate these unsightly marks with a freshly ‘buffed’ car and even expect to see them following a machine polish which is pretty bonkers when you consider the lengths we go to try avoid them.
The next dead giveaway a car has had a heavy polish and therefore may have seen the inside of a bodyshop is the presence of chalky white residue around the edges of badges, stickers and exposed plastic trim. Again, this is generally caused by the sloppy use of a machine polisher and it can be avoided by simply taping up these areas or just being more careful with the machine when working around them.
I like to gently work excess residue loose from stickers and badges with the pointed end of a soft wooden food skewer which works well so long as you’re careful not to force it underneath their edges. If you’re aware the car’s caked with polish residue prior to washing then during that process you can apply some all purpose cleaner or degreaser to the affected areas, lightly brush them over and pressure wash them off to remove a good portion of it.
When polish residue is contaminating plastics and trim, an all purpose cleaner worked in with a microfibre towel can work well, although if it’s been there for a while or the trim is heavily textured it may need to be worked in with a stiff brush to release it from the grain.
A panel wipe-type product designed to remove polishing oils from painted parts can also be effective at cutting through the excess residue, however repeated use of alcohol-based products like these on exposed plastics can leave them looking and feeling dry and washed out so it’s best to follow up with a durable exterior dressing to rejuvenate the finish or even better, a suitable trim coating to protect it for months or even years to come.
Another sure-fire sign that a car has been repainted or at least been in the vicinity of a bodyshop is the presence of overspray which is essentially a light, dusty layer of paint that has found its way under any protective masking, settled on the car and dried. Even if not visible, it can usually be felt and heard if you run your fingers over the surface and although not particularly hard to remove it can be a chore as it can potentially inflict every exterior (and sometimes even interior) surface.
Claying should pull the the dry paint off with relative ease but the problem with claying is that the surface then ideally needs to be polished to remove the light marks inevitably left behind, however you can kill two detailing birds with one stone by simply polishing it away by machine or even hand if you have the elbow grease, you just need to be sure to swap your pads far more frequently as they’ll become contaminated with residue a lot faster.
Again, like with some of the other defects, overspray looks, sounds and feels a lot worse than it actually is and is fairly easily removed but still, shouldn’t really be there to begin with!
The penultimate pointer a car has been painted then (and possibly the most severe on the surface) is the presence of pigtails, which as you can see along with the hazing here, can be incredibly unsightly. They’re inflicted by random orbital sanders which have been allowed to accumulate excess residue beneath the pad which then clumps up and inflicts distinctive scratches that mimic the motion of the machine and resemble pigs tails, hence the name.
They can also be inflicted with dual action polishers however those can usually be removed by re-polishing but despite repeated attempts on the day to eliminate them these particular deep pigtails wouldn’t squeal, which suggests they were sander-inflicted and meant unfortunately they would have to be be sander rectified. Still, it’s not a huge job and there’s no paint involved so assuming you can find a reputable bodyshop prepared to correctly re-flatten and re-polish the problem panels, they aren’t irreversible.
The final sign your car may have had paint then, is the actual paint itself. Now no paint job will ever be completely perfect as the nightmarish nature of the process invites repeated opportunities for things to go wrong, so the odd imperfection is permissible however more obvious things like fish-eyes, solvent pops, runs and pitting are all obvious signs that a car’s been painted since leaving the factory.
Despite the various defects shown in the finish throughout this video, the actual paint itself wasn’t all that bad and the only real signs I could spot was a few pockmarks in the lower front lip which suggest that the front end or at least part of it, had been re-painted at some point most likely to eliminate stone chips and the small pits or indents are where the fresh paint has sunk into the underlying chips and wether you consider them to be a big deal or not, they’re still definitely indicative of fresh paint.
There are of course other things that indicate a car’s seen the inside of a bodyshop but the five outlined here, in my experience at least, tend to be the most common and while one or two of them aren’t conclusive proof a car’s been repainted, when they’re all found together then you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that it’s been to the bodyshop.
Now a used car having paint isn’t necessarily a bad thing, assuming it’s been done properly I know I’d rather have small cosmetic issues rectified prior to purchasing, it can just be a bit demoralising to discover unfinished areas after you take possession of it.
After pointing out, discussing and filming the various defects then, I only really had the time to treat the car to my usual spritz and buff over but this actually worked well as a means to illustrate how these kinds of imperfections can easily be missed by an untrained eye if a car looks otherwise clean and shiny.