Car paint maintenance is often more synonymous with aesthetics than car care. However, a regular check on your automotive paint not just retains the shimmer on your vehicle but also ensures better protection for your car. Therefore, you will need to know how to use a paint thickness gauge to do these checks.
How does it work?
The device determines paint thickness by measuring the distance between the base panel of the car and its sensor. The unit of measurement is usually in mills (i.e., 25.4 microns or 1/1000 of an inch) or microns (i.e., 1/1000 of a millimetre).
Most paint thickness gauges won’t work on panels other than those made from metal or aluminum. Those that can measure paint on plastic or carbon panels could set you back an extra few hundred dollars.
How to read a paint thickness gauge?
You can use these steps as a guide when using the device, though we advise that you read the user’s manual before going into step 1.
- Turn on the paint thickness gauge. Make sure the sensor is not pointing towards any surface.
- Select the unit of measurement that suits you.
- Calibrate the device if need be. Again, you can consult the manual on instructions for your unit (some units are self-calibrating while others need calibration plates).
- Put the sensor side of the gauge perpendicular to the panel’s surface. Do not remove the device until the reading is shown on the screen.
- Ideally, you will take a few readings on different panel areas to validate the results.
A “good result” depends on the car you’re measuring. The recommended thickness is 100 to 150 microns or 4 to 6 mills for European and American cars. Meanwhile, you should get from 90 to 120 microns or 3.5 to 4.7 mil for Japanese models.
Why should you use a car paint thickness gauge?
Getting a proper reading of your car’s paint thickness can help you in a few things:
- Polishing and compounding
If the reading is below average, you should be careful to correct the paint on that panel.
- Assessing a paint job
Are you someone who prefers to DIY everything, including a respray on your car? Then, a paint thickness test will determine if you did fine or need to redo your work.
- When buying a used car
A new paint job on an old car may hide bumps and flaws for future buyers like you. However, this device will reveal whether they repainted or added fillers. A reading of more than 250 microns should ring alarm bells in the car.
Our final word
A car paint thickness gauge is one of those devices that people say you don’t need, but you’ll always be thankful you have one. It is a handy device that can save you from inconvenience while keeping your car in its best (looking) condition. So be sure to get one in your toolbox ASAP!