Has My Car Been to a Shop?

A few things that you can do to identify the repair history of your car
Nissan B14 200sx
This car has quite an extensive repair history!

Hey Everyone.

I was sitting on my porch having a cigarette. Yes, I know, it’s an awful habit. But, I was looking down at Our Beloved Marshy. I got to thinking. The reason for my blog is, mostly, to help the general public do things themselves at home. So I figured I would write up a little article for you.

When buying a new, or new to you, vehicle, it’s very important to know what your car has been through in its life. Yes, there are things like Carfax that will tell you this, but they can be costly. And, if the previous owner did the work themselves, there’s no paper trail! So, I’m going to show you a few little tips on how to spot if your car has been repaired. This is mostly regarding the exterior of the car.

I’m going to use Marsh for all of the photos to make sure I don’t infringe on any copywritten material.

Ok, on to the list:

1. Color Differences

The bottom of the quarter-panel is slightly different than the rest of the car.

As you can see, this car has been painted. When viewed in direct light, even the best paint jobs can have subtle differences in color. So, step back and take a look at each individual panel. You’ll have to really focus sometimes. But, usually, if the car has been painted, you’ll see a slight deviation in color.

2. Check the Door Jambs

This tag on the inside of the passenger door has been painted over.

In this picture, you’ll see that the Vibrant Teal that Marsh was painted with has been sprayed on to the VIN tag inside of the door jamb. This is definitely a sign that the car was painted, and that the person painting it didn’t care enough about the interior of the car to apply any masking.

You’ll also see that some of the factory stickers or plates in this area have been painted over. If the paint was done at a reputable body shop, I highly doubt that you will run into this. But, If someone did the job at home or in their own shop, you may see it.

3. Asymmetrical Body Lines

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

I’ve had this car for over a year and just noticed this the other day. The passenger side (Fig 2.) has a slight flare to the rear quarter panel. Now, if you look at the driver’s side, (Fig 1.) It’s completely flat! The fact that it took me over a year to notice this kinda shows why the previous owner did this. You’re never looking at both sides at the same exact time, so some differences like that can go unnoticed for quite some time. So, try to keep this in mind when looking for your next vehicle. I’d love to see a salesman’s face when you ask him why the rear wheel wells are different! 😀

4. CAPA Tags

The yellow tag is the CAPA Certification tag, stating that the part has been replaced with one that is as safe as a factory part.

This is usually on the inside of your car’s hood. Typically, a car will come with stickers on the inside of the hood. These usually include instructions on routing the serpentine belt, or what type of refrigerant to use in the A/C system. However, on a hood that’s been replaced, like mine, you’ll see a different set of stickers. These are basically just stating that the part has been certified by CAPA, or the Certified Automotive Parts Association. It just means that the part has been tested and is certified to be at least as safe as the part that it’s replacing on your car.

And finally:

5. The Windows

The original Nissan tag on the rear driver’s side window

My car has all of its original windows. So, I can’t show you a picture of a window without it’s badges. But I do know this from past experience. I’ve pictured an original Nissan emblem on the glass of my car. If the window is a replacement, this will not be on the window. If you notice this on a car that you’ll potentially buy, make sure you check the interior around that window. If it wasn’t installed properly, it could leak. Look for signs of water damage to the interior pieces and check for water lines and basically anything that could indicate that water is getting in.

As a little bonus, I’ll include this little tidbit. A few days after I bought the car, Shell and I went to the grocery store. As I put my key in the lock to unlock the trunk, I noticed that I didn’t have the correct key! So, if you have a lock that doesn’t match, your trunk has probably been replaced.

Thank you all for reading!

Ian.

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