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Someone with a provisional licence hit my 2008 Jetta on the side, and the side of my car had to be reshaped and repainted. It involved repainting the whole side, including the strip on top of the doors, which is the same part as the roof-top; they've covered up the roof-top, and painted only the side.

I'm not sure about the time when I first got the car after the job, but after a short while, including driving the car in snow and getting a car-wash, I noticed that the seam on the roof top where they've repainted the side now has a rather visible white line on it; it's not entirely noticeable, because the top of the car is shaped in such a way that the side is slightly higher than the rooftop, and the seam appears within this side that's elevated from the roof-top on the roof-top's inside; however, the idea of such seam just being there nonetheless somewhat bothers me.

They've now tried re-polishing it, and it seems like it might have went away, but I'm afraid that, ultimately, it's going to come back again.

What's going on, and is there any rule of thumb here? The shop that did the job is an old reputable local shop in Northern California, which strives to make sure their customers stay very satisfied. Did they simply not repolish it correctly the first time, or what?

Update: so, it seems like the white line is still there. Here are some pictures, the first four is the re-painted side of the rooftop on the driver's side, and the last one is the original non-repainted side on the passenger side. The imperfections in the paint are much more visible in these magnified pictures than with the naked eye.

re-painted side of the rooftop, with the seam visible re-painted side of the rooftop, with the seam visible re-painted side of the rooftop, with the seam visible re-painted side of the rooftop, with the seam visible the good side, factory-painted, with no seam

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If it was polished away, I don't think it will come back. –  R.. Jun 22 '13 at 7:00
    
I don't think it was white-coloured on my red-coloured car when I just got it back after the job was done; the white colour kind of appeared out of nowhere; now it seems like it's gone, but the area feels quire rough to the touch, so, I'm not very positive that it won't be coming back. –  cnst Jun 22 '13 at 7:55
    
If it feels rough, that means it wasn't properly sanded/polished. My understanding is that you normally use around 1500 grit to smooth out clearcoat then polish it, so if it's still rough after doing that, it probably had larger irregularities in it to begin with, and may need several steps (e.g. 500 grit then 1000 grit then 1500 grit) to get it smooth. Of course it's also possible that would go through the clearcoat if the irregularity was in the base coat already. Perhaps you could get a professional opinion from another body shop...? –  R.. Jun 22 '13 at 16:00
    
@R.., it's only the seam on the "inside top" part of the roof that is rough, the paint elsewhere is just fine as far as the glassy-to-the-touch is concerned. Are you saying that it's possible to sand and polish even the seam of the paint, on the inside of a 90° angle curved piece of single-sheet metal or so? The other, factory-painted side of the car at the top, is very glassy. –  cnst Jun 22 '13 at 16:12
    
I think a photo would help understanding the part you're talking about. –  R.. Jun 22 '13 at 16:49
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1 Answer

Stopping at a body line or some other feature is a pretty standard trick that body shops use to make repairs cheaper. It's less work for them because they don't have to worry about blending in the paint finish and texture as much. Since it's on the inside of the roofrack, it isn't really noticeable on that seam. Someplace like the middle of the hood would be very easy to spot anything less than a perfect match. In your situation, some people wouldn't ever even notice it, others wouldn't care that much, and some people complain and make the shop do it correctly but those people are a definite minority which is why body shops do it.

So if it doesn't bother you, ignore it and you'll probably forget it was there. If you think it's noticeable enough that in a few years when you sell the car that this could turn off potential buyers, then you should get it fixed correctly.

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That rough strip will likely catch stray dust, dirt and wax. It's too bad it's a line. That tends to catch your eye more than a lone spot would. This may be a case of diminishing returns, though: it's not clear that this sort of fix can ever be truly perfect. –  Bob Cross Jan 28 at 16:52
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