There is almost no such thing as perfect automotive body work. In fact, it is so rare at an everyday consumer level (i.e., excluding mega-dollar custom shops) that it can reasonably be said to be nonexistent. If you know what to look for, you’ll always find something that tips it off.
Unfortunately (and fortunately), I know what to look for. Pretty much since I could walk, I was accompanying my dad to car shows, auctions, and body shops, and he taught me well. My skills were further honed looking at potential trade-ins when I was selling cars for a living, thanks to Ken’s tutelage. If I ask you whether your car’s had body work, you better not try to bullshit me, because if it has and you say it hasn’t, I’ll bust your ass every single time. And that’s not good for your negotiating position whatsoever, now is it? Heh.
We got Lea’s minivan back tonight. It’s not bad work. Plenty is right with it. But the interface between the rear quarter panel and the sliding door isn’t quite correct. The panel gap is fine, but there is a slight contour that they missed. I can feel it. And now that I know it’s there, I can see it.
Understand, this is subtle—far too subtle to show you in a photograph. You’d say “huh?” You’d almost certainly do the same thing in person. In fact, I could tell you where the problem was in person, and odds are you’d still say “huh?” To the populace at large, the problem isn’t there. I only know it’s there because of my background.
I have little doubt that I could take it back to the body shop and show it to them, and get it fixed. But it occurs to me that this is a “personal growth opportunity.” (I had a boss 10 years ago who referred to any bullshit task she wanted you to perform thusly.) I’ve gotten plenty philosophical about a great many things since I got married, and especially since we had children. And I’ve determined that relaxing standards for things that don’t really matter is a key component of my ultimate happiness. Said relaxation hasn’t yet fully extended to automotive matters. Here is a window.
Dig: This is a utility vehicle, in some ways even more so than my pickup. If there is a “child sacrifice” vehicle in our lives, this is it. We’ve had the Odyssey for four years, and it’s been the vehicle in which drinks have been spilled, and into which riding toys have been run. It has a few minor wounds that have nothing to do with its recent misadventure on the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee.
Our intention has always been to drive it “until the wheels fall off.” Said intention was only reinforced when it was damaged, as any vehicle, no matter how well it’s been repaired, takes a resale value hit when it’s had extensive body work.
That intention hasn’t changed. We demonstrably need a minivan, and this one is paid for, so here we are. It remains fully capable of performing all duty we require of it, so require we shall, and look back we shall not. I’m leaving it alone. (There is one post-repair ding that a paintless dent repair guy is coming to fix next week, but I’m talking about the panel inconsistency.) I am doing so in the pursuit of serenity. It is good enough, particularly given this car’s lot in life.
Grow, Bo. Grow.