Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

April, 2008

Dealer Used Car Appraisal - Paint Inspection

Q: I took my 2006 GMC Envoy Denali to a NY auto dealer today to trade for a new car and he stated that I have overspray and repaint on my car. He showed me the meter and stated that 6.5 is too high and that it should be somewhere around 4.5. I am in the military and I ordered the car thru the military overseas program from the factory. I have been the only owner and the vehicle has lower than average mileage. I do not think that the guy is being straight with me and I am researching the standards. Are you able to shed some light on this subject by giving me the true range and how inconsistent are the readings allowed to be throughout the car(1.0 to 2.0)? Thank you for your attention.

A: I don't understand why the dealer is complaining about the paint thickness. A value of 6.5 mils (I presume he is referring to mils and not microns) is high for most cars, but should not be detrimental to the paint finish. On the contrary, a higher film thickness usually provides better protection to the underlying steel. Ask the dealer if he has any literature that shows why 6.5 mils is disadvantageous to the finish.

Did he measure the thickness on all steel panels or only on some? I have measured the thickness on several vehicles and in cases where repainting was performed I could always measure the specific panels that had been repainted.

Finally, if you are adamant that you never had the car repainted, you can demonstrate this by lightly sanding the paint finish through all its layers to demonstrate that no other coatings were applied. The drawback of this approach is that you need to destroy the paint to perform the demonstration. Thereafter you will need to repair the finish. Perhaps you could sand a small area in an area that cannot be seen. This is your call.

Good luck,

Ron Joseph


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