Visible distortions in Class “A” automotive surfaces are unacceptable to vehicle customers and therefore are considered to be cosmetic defects. The automotive industry currently relies upon subjective assessment of the severity of these distortions to determine whether a component's surface appearance is acceptable. Given the inherent variability in subjective assessments, however, an objective measurement for assessing the severity of defects would be of great benefit to the industry. The issues that need to be addressed to objectively quantify the severity of one particular type of surface distortion are discussed and a methodology for quantifying the severity of that surface distortion in a way that correlates to human perception is proposed. Experimental and finite element model data supporting the proposed methodology is presented.