How to Recognize the Differences Between Superior and Inferior Auto Paints

How to Recognize the Differences Between Superior and Inferior Auto Paints

When you buy a new car, the paint on your vehicle is perfect. Or, at least, it is supposed to be perfect. If it isn’t perfect, you will undoubtedly give it back to the dealership where you purchased the vehicle and insist that the sales person who sold you the car give you a vehicle that is nothing short of perfection all around. That is easy. However, how do you tell good-quality paint from bad after you have had the car for a while?

Learning how to tell the difference

Painting at DetailUSAIf you own a vehicle that needs new paint, whether you have been in an accident or the paint just needs to be refreshed because the vehicle is old, it is important for you to understand that not all auto paints are exactly the same. They differ in quality as well as in other aspects and those differences can be quite extreme.

For that reason, it is very important for you to do your homework and learn about the different auto paints so that you can make the most informed, educated decision for your particular vehicle. A good-quality paint will stand up to the elements and it will cost you less in the long run. You really do get what you pay for!

When it comes to the quality of the auto paint, the thickness is an important contributing factor. As you are doing your research on the various auto paints that are available, part of what you will learn is how you can recognize a good-quality paint that is the correct thickness for your vehicle.

If you learn how to do that, you will avoid having to spend money on paint unnecessarily and, therefore, excessively. Additionally, if you buy the appropriate paint for your vehicle, it will last much longer than it would if you chose a paint that was not right for your vehicle.

Another important fact about auto paint beside the thickness is the amount of resins and pigments that the paint contains as well as the number of solvents it has. It is important to remember that once the solvents evaporate, if the paint quality is good, you will be left with a thicker, more durable paint film. On the other hand, if the paint quality is inferior, it will contain fewer solids and more solvents, which means that once the solvents evaporate, you will be left with a thinner paint, which is not as durable in the long run. Unfortunately, that means that you will find yourself having to replace the paint more quickly.

When it comes to the process of determining which paint is the appropriate one for your particular vehicle, you should follow the important steps in the process. Different devices can be used in different areas of the vehicle’s surface to determine the paint’s thickness. It is important to note here that the devices that are used to measure the paint’s thickness should be handled by a professional autobody expert. It is not recommended that you try it yourself at home.

  • Grasp the perfect paint thickness: Before you can even determine a superior auto paint from an inferior one, you need to have a solid understanding of the various paint thicknesses. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to take that one step further to understanding exactly which paint thickness is best for the vehicle that you own. The unit of measure that is used specifically with vehicle paint is the mil. If you have an auto paint in front of you, a good quality will be between 6 and 8 mils.

    car paint meter

  • Pay close attention to the paint job on the vehicle: As you are examining the vehicle in order to determine if a good-quality paint has been used, you will look to see if the paint is uniform across the entire surface of the vehicle. Additionally, you will want to make sure that there are no faded areas or paint splotches of any kind. When you examine the vehicle, you will want to look at it close up as well as from a distance. The reason that you do that is to get a well-rounded idea about the quality of the paint.

car paint


  • Use a magnet (as one measuring option): You can use a magnet to determine the thickness of the paint. If you go to an auto supply and maintenance store, you can typically find a mechanical gauge, which has a magnet inside. The magnet is instrumental in telling you exactly how thick the paint that you are measuring is. What you will want to do is to place the gauge directly on the paint (on the outside of the vehicle) and slowly lift the gauge off of the paint. There are springs in the gauge that will measure precisely how much force was needed to remove the magnet from the paint. The smaller the amount of effort needed to lift the gauge, the thinner the paint. However, it is important for you to remember that you can only use this device on the steel portions of the vehicle. 


  • Use an eddy current device: An eddy current device has a coil inside that generates a magnetic field. Subsequently, the magnetic field awakens other magnetic fields in the vehicle and those fields send signals to the eddy current device, which determines the paint’s thickness on the aluminum surface.  Because of the mechanism of action, using a product that has both a mechanical and an eddy current device is the most effective thing to use.eddy current device
  • Use an ultrasonic device: When it comes to the plastic areas of your vehicle, an ultrasonic device will work most effectively to determine the paint’s thickness. The way that the device works is that it emits waves, which, in turn, measure the thickness of the paint.


DetailUSA uses those brands and we have had extremely positive experiences with them. Now that you have learned about the various ways to determine paint thicknesses and superior versus inferior auto paint quality, you should also understand that our paints will endure for your vehicle. Being able to make informed decisions is critical to your satisfaction. Remember that if you use a superior-quality paint, your vehicle will look like a gem and you will get a great deal of joy out of driving it.



When it comes to the life of your vehicle, the paint is an extremely important part of it. If you educate yourself about the various aspects of the paint, you will make an informed, educated decision. When it comes to brands of paint, if you are not sure which ones are good choices, Sherwin-Williams and PPG will most likely serve your vehicle well. We hope that you will think of us whenever you need to have your vehicle painted.

We, at Detail USA, are committed to keeping our customers’ vehicles looking new. We do this by providing the services to protect your investment. To request an estimate to give your vehicle’s finish the ultimate protection for the winter, go to our Request an Estimate page. For special deals and promotions, please visit our Specials page.

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