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Locating Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement

Drilling spot welds is an important step of the body panel replacement restoration process.  But, often times spot welds are difficult to locate.  Perhaps the vehicle is severely rusted or perhaps it has been painted several times.  Both rust and paint can cover up spot welds.  This guide will give some tips on how to locate seemingly invisible spot welds.

Tools Needed

Course Sand Paper:  40 grit or lower

  • Wire Brush
  • Flashlight
  • Chalk
  • Hammer
  • Flat Metal Chisel

Tips for locating spot welds

Spot welds can be covered with rust or paint.  Use these tips for finding them:

  • By hand, run course sandpaper over welded flange areas a few times.   This will remove rust and/or paint along the flanged areas but will leave traces of paint and/or rust within the low areas.  These low areas are the spot welds.
  • Run a wire brush over the welded area a few times.  This will yield similar results as using sandpaper.  The rust and/or paint along the flanged areas will remain and traces of rust and/or paint will remain within the low areas, or spot weld areas.
  • In a dim-lit setting, shine a flashlight at a very low angle along the welded flange.  Doing so will, in some cases, cast a shadow at each spot weld.  Then, mark this area with chalk.

Most spot welds are discovered by using the previously described methods.  In case there are additional welds that are undetected, try this tip:

  • Using your hammer and chisel, begin to remove the panel by laying the flat edge of the chisel between the panels and gently hammering until the chisel comes to a stop.  Often times, it is hitting the spot weld.

Now that you have located all of the spot welds, you are ready to drill the spot welds.  Please see our guides on Drilling Spot Welds for a Unibody Panel Replacement and Unibody Panel Replacement for more helpful tips.

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