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***New Location***


We are now relocated and set up in Ewen, Cirencester as UK Detailing Ltd.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with any enquiries on 01285 770090, or email


Same people, new name.

Buying a new vehicle is one of the larger investments most people will make. You’re paying a premium for a brand new, perfect car and as such you’d expect it to arrive blemish free for you to enjoy – this is not always the case.


Unless your dealer is next door to the factory, your vehicle is going to have undergone transportation and storage, either on the back of a car transporter or via sea-port which means dust scratching, salt abrasion and industrial fallout. A car dealership’s aim is to get your car to you whilst spending as little of the money you pay as possible – the less they have to spend the more they get to keep. So whilst the factory may turn out perfect paintwork and tidy interiors, if anything happens to them whilst in transit or storage, the dealer will want to hide it if at all possible until it leaves their showroom and you’ve handed over the cash, after which it’s your word against theirs that the damage isn’t new.


Dealers complete hundreds of new car sales a year, and are fully aware that a percentage of people will want to spend hours pouring over a new car looking for faults to knock the final few pounds off the price. Be in that percentage and get the car you paid for by following this guide.


A few good practices


Be polite but firm – if there is a problem with your car, don’t rant at anyone about it. Staff deal with hundreds of new car sales a year so every single one will not be perfect, give them the opportunity to correct any issues. Make a list, point it out and be clear that it’s up to them to sort it out. Until you have the keys you are under no obligation to buy the car in any other state than perfect, as this is what you contracted them to supply to you.


Time – it’s up to you when you collect your car. Make an appointment, but if it looks dull and cloudy, phone and re-arrange for a different day (or time if it looks like clearing up later). Sunlight is the best tool you’ll have for spotting flaws in paintwork. Arrange to view the car around midday when the light is strongest and view the car outside, not in a “hand-over space” – these will usually be lit to show off a car, but will not  be so bright as to highlight flaws.


Take your time – a complete inspection should take an hour or so, but leave plenty of time in case it takes you longer. Avoid leaving yourself with no option but to drive away in that car, you may need to leave it with them to correct any problems.


Take photos – You probably have a camera on your mobile phone, so any problems you see, take a picture so you can compare it when it’s been “repaired” and keep a record of the initial damage.

What to look for


Dust scratches

Either in the form of linear scratches or circular “spider webs”, these light surface scratches may not be noticed in low light, but once hit by the sun they leap out of the paintwork making your “new car” look tired and damaged. If you can’t get out into direct sunlight or under a strong fluorescent light, take a bright led torch with you – even just a keychain one – and shine the light on the surface. Don’t look at your reflection, unfocus your eyes a little and move the torch around, looking directly at the paint. Any lines or scratches should become visible when hit by the light at the right angle. And even if they don’t look too serious now, they will under strong light and it’s something which should be sorted out prior to accepting any keys.


Handling and Transport scratches

Key areas to look at are:

  • The front & rear sills – this is where some tow lines are attached/run past when loading and unloading from transporters

  • Around the wheels and arches – tie straps used may mark the finish on wheels and careless handling leaves marks on front and rear quarter panels. Also, mechanics making checks can leave scratches on side quarters when they lean into the engine bay.

  • Door handles – Staff moving the vehicle whilst wearing rings can leave scratches on handles and their surrounds

  • Door sills - Especially around driver’s door from entering and exiting the vehicle

  • Roof – especially just above the driver’s door. Sales staff love to lean here when showing you around a car and rings and watches can easily leave scratches.


Holograms and buffer trails

“Hologram” is the term used to describe trails left in the paint by rotary machine polishers which have either not been removed during finishing, or left behind in an attempt to correct scratches quickly. We have heard so many variations on excuses for these from dealers to their customers – anything from “that’s normal on all metallic finishes” to our favourite one recently “that will disappear when waxed”. They are not difficult to remove, just time consuming, and should be rectified without any fuss. Spotting them is tricky without strong sunlight or a focused spotlight, but once you see one you can guarantee there will be more and they should either be corrected or the cost of doing so taken off your bill.



This can be anything from insect and tree sap (where was it parked while waiting for you?), industrial fallout or paint over-spray. Not normally visible, but easy to find if it’s there just by using a small plastic bag. Run your fingertips lightly over the paintwork and feel for any roughness or tiny bumps on the surface. Now place the bag over one hand and repeat. The bag will allow your finger tips to move freely over the surface of the paint and allow your fingertips to feel any contamination on a surface which should be as smooth as glass. Most fallout can be removed with a clay bar but anything which has etched the paint will probably have to be machine polished out.

Stone chips

Not so much on new vehicles, but worth checking for. If the dealer has taken one of the new fleet round the block to test drive, or after finding a mechanical issue, a car can easily pick up a few chips which will need sorting out.


Interior staining

Always check the interior in daylight for better visibility. Main areas to check are driver’s foot well, driver’s seat external bolster and seat pad and the steering wheel, but all areas are susceptible so a thorough inspection should be taken. Leather seats can take colour from clothing if unsealed or light coloured, it should be soft to the touch, and have a matt sheen with have no dirt or discolouration in the grain. Flags should go up if the car is driven round to you without a seat cover and disposable footwell mats in place.


Panel Gaps

Again, less of a problem with new cars as most assembly lines are so advanced that panel gaps line up as a matter of course. However if it looks like a door is hanging too low or a panel isn’t quite straight it’s another thing that should be put right before accepting delivery.


A word on Dealer applied Paint Protection


Every dealership will offer it’s own “super-lifetime-titanium-diamond” paint protection system. These are internally seen as a way of earning the monthly bonus for the sales team and not worth the money charged – usually at least £450. Of those that work as promised, a fraction of these are properly applied by a specialist and usually in the quickest time possible to increase dealer margins.

Taking your vehicle to a reputable detailer will almost always be more cost effective, and you will get an honest opinion on a range of paint protection options from wax to sealants and nano-ceramics. For dealers who offer 4/5/10 year protection guarantees – they are blowing smoke, they don’t exist. Paintwork doesn’t even have a usable guarantee that long and this is something they can apply in a few hours?


Nano-Ceramic and Crystal sealants are arguably the best protection system currently on the market at time of writing and usually cost less for an application to a new vehicle than dealership brands. They last 2-5 years and protect paint from a majority of dust scratches, UV damage and contamination whilst leaving a dazzling finish. They should be applied indoors in a heated, dust free workshop and allowed 24 hours to cure to leave a coating which will add considerable benefit, and maintenance-free care to your vehicle. For further protection, consider paint protection films on vulnerable areas of your car to protect against stone chip damage.


Inspection Sheet


We’ve made this printable vehicle inspection sheet to help you when inspecting your new car. Click here to download, the PDF file, then just print and use it when walking around a vehicle to record any damage to the paint or interior you find.



This is a paint finishing issue which can be traced to dirty air lines or silicone on the panels during paint finishing, although more common in aftermarket finishes. Small craters are left in the paint finish and require re-spraying to correct.

New Vehicle Inspection

Dust scratches Buffer trails Fallout contamination Panel gaps Fish eyes