How to Check the Body Condition on a Used Vehicle

February 2nd, 2021 by

Young man inspecting a used vehicle before buying

Thompson Sales wants you to find a high-quality used vehicle that meets your needs. We have a wide selection of used and certified pre-owned vehicles to choose from on our lot! Today’s blog from Thompson Sales explains how to check the body condition on a used vehicle.

Scratches, Dents, and Rust

Start from the top and work your way down by inspecting the roof, hood, trunk/back, and all body panels for scratches, dents, and rust. Get up close to the edge of each panel and look longways across it. This lets you see any dents that have the same paint color as the rest of the panel. Look from the top-down on each area to find scratches that might be a different color. Run your fingers over areas you think look suspect to feel any imperfections.

Rust might be a little harder to see. But running your finger over a rusted spot may cause some rust to come off. You’ll see a reddish-brown discoloration on your finger if there’s rust. Rust often happens close to the grill or around the panels next to the wheels.

Fender and Door Lines

Examine the lines along the doors and fenders of the used vehicle. This requires you to look down the length of the car and from the top to the bottom. Look for misaligned panels that don’t line up straight. Large gaps between panels might indicate a shoddy repair following an accident.

Different Colors

All body panels on a used vehicle should have the same color. If you see body panels with a slightly different shade, that may indicate a poor repair or lack of an original body panel. For example, you might see a slightly lighter or darker shade of blue compared to the original paint for a door or fender panel. This indicates someone’s failure to match paint correctly during a repair job, which means the repair could be suspect or less-than-professional.


Small, non-abrasive magnets can help detect whether or not dent filler has been used to fill in dents and cracks. Dent filler is made of rubber and other materials instead of metal. Magnets won’t stick to the filler material. Be sure to check for this around the hood and trunk lid, two common areas that get scratches and dents over time.

Open and Close

Open and close all of the doors, as well as the hood and trunk. If anything doesn’t close properly, you’ve got a misalignment issue with the body of the used vehicle. Misalignment can happen due to accidents and bad repair jobs. Hinges may be damaged or loose if the doors open and shut too readily or quickly.

What Are Causes for Concern?

Minor scratches and dents are no big deal because they are minor cosmetic flaws. Rust is a problem, though, because rusted parts can corrode over time. Look for blistered paint or rust. 

Look over the wheel wells and underneath the doors for rust. You’ll need a flashlight to check inside the wheel wells for rust. Too much rust indicates the age of the vehicle or lack of maintenance.

Used Vehicles by Thompson Sales

Thompson Sales offers many used vehicles and pre-owned models on our lot. Stop by our place to see what we’ve got! Contact Thompson Sales online or call (417) 763-6811 for more details.

Posted in Used Vehicles