I recently bought a CM8801-FN Paint Thickness Gauge, and would like to use it to determine if a car has had body damage. Basically, according to what I've read average factory paint thickness on modern cars is in the area of 2 to 6.5 mils ( 50 to 150 microns ) and my assumption is that a panel that's suffered damage, had filler used to smooth it out or even just been repainted will either show significantly thicker coating readings, or be too thick to get a reading ( if filler was used ).

Are there any problems with my assumptions? The only one I can think of would be if a panel was replaced with a factory painted part.

  • How about looking for variations in paint thickness instead? – Aaron Brick Apr 5 '17 at 3:53
  • @AaronBrick I think that's a great point. Checking the same panel, left side vs. right, might be the best way to check. If the left fender shows significantly higher paint thickness than the right then it's probably been repainted for some reason... – Robert S. Barnes Apr 5 '17 at 11:19
  • And don't forget that even brand new cars can get paint repair. And accidents do happen. It's rare, but it does occur. They are pretty careful to never use body filler. The assembly plants I worked at used Paintless Dent Repair (PDR). But if a panel had a paint blemish they would sand and repaint. Paint appearance of final product is a major big deal. – zipzit Apr 6 '17 at 14:52
  • @zipzit the idea is that finding undisclosed collision damage gives you a negotiating advantage. – Robert S. Barnes Apr 6 '17 at 21:11
  • Good luck with that on brand new cars. What you really want to know is body filler repairs (on used cars) and a tap test, a magnet test and search for repair overspray works quite well for a very small investment ($2.00 for the magnet) – zipzit Apr 6 '17 at 21:33

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