Cars & Racing | 1 March 201715-Step Fender Replacement Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Ok, so you made a mistake on your way to work and dinged up a front fender pretty bad. And you aren’t too thrilled about paying big bucks to get it fixed. If you’re willing to put in a few hours of elbow grease, you may be able to save some decent cash by doing it yourself. What may seem like a daunting task at first, can end up being fairly simple with the right know-how.The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair, 2nd Edition shows you that the job of replacing a front fender can be accomplished by a do-it-yourself mechanic in his own garage. If you are fortunate enough to have a vehicle well supported by the aftermarket, installing new replacement fenders is pretty simple compared to hammering out a series of dents or removing rust. Front fenders for most vehicles manufactured in the last half of the twentieth century are reasonably priced, making their replacement more feasible than repair if the damage is indeed significant. Of course, minor damage can still be repaired, especially if rust is not a concern. For the most part, fender replacement is merely a bolt-in operation, though you may need to install shims to obtain the correct alignment with other body panels. Additionally, you will most likely be required to remove some items such as the hood hinge, sidemarker lights, and insignia from the old fender and reinstall them on the new fender. HOW TO REPLACE A FENDER Brent Schmelz at Morfab Customs was doing a preliminary fit up on a pair of replacement fenders from the front of an early Camaro convertible. This particular vehicle is undergoing a complete restoration, but some original parts will be used along with replacement parts, making it typical of what you may be faced with during a collision repair job. Front fenders will typically mount to the cowl and the radiator support, along with various other locations. The mounting locations on the cowl will usually be designed so that they can provide vertical and horizontal adjustment through the use of shims. The front portion of the fender is secured to the radiator support with two bolts. Some vehicles will have bolts that thread into nuts on the bottom side of the mounting location, while others will require a washer and nut to secure the mounting bolt. After securing the fender to the radiator support, the fender can be pushed or pulled to align the mounting holes at the cowl. You should install all of the mounting bolts loosely, with a couple of turns by hand, before tightening any of them. The opposite side fender is installed by using the same methods. The hood springs are then secured to the fenders by installing the original hardware in the proper mounting holes in the new fender. Hood hinge mounting locations will vary from make and model, so you may need to refer to the notes you made during disassembly. The hood is then secured to the hood hinge. Do yourself a favor and ask someone for assistance when you install a hood: trying to install a hood by yourself is just asking for more of a challenge than is required. Typically, the hood is secured to the hinge with just two or three bolts on each side. Get them all started by hand and then tighten them all. You can then close the hood to check for proper alignment with the fenders. Be sure to let the hood down gently, but don’t force it if it begins to bind. If the hinges are bound up, excessive pressure on the hood can cause it to bend. If the hinges are stiff, apply some lubricant, such as WD-40, to loosen them. If that doesn’t work, remove the hood and hinges, clamp the hinge in a vise, apply more lubricant, tap the pivot points with a hammer, and repeat until the hinges work again. With the hood operating freely, the nose panel that spans the area between the fenders and in front of the hood should be installed. The hood is secured to the fenders with bolts, washers, and nuts. The lower fascia that spans the fenders and the underside of the grille is then installed, secured to the fenders with bolts, washers, and nuts. The fit of the fascia should be checked before tightening the mounting bolts completely. With all of the front sheet metal components installed, the fit and alignment of the hood can be checked. As seen in this photo, the gap between the hood and the nose panel is greater near the left fender than at the center of the hood. This indicates that the left fender needs to move rearward a bit. Brent loosens the top bolt and then pulls the fender back toward the cowl as required. The mounting bolt is then reinstalled and tightened. Although all of the paint prep work still needs to be completed, we have verified that the front clip sheet metal does fit properly. It may need some tweaking at the final assembly stage, but it is certainly within acceptable limits. Buy from an Online Retailer Everything you need to know about auto body repair–updated and revised to cover water-based paints, the latest panel adhesives, and other body repair technologies. The only thing more reliable than rising gas prices is the wear and tear your car endures over its lifetime. Knowing how to repair your car without taking it to the body shop is a valuable skill for any car lover. If you want to restore, modify, or just fix up any car, from collector to custom, this is the book for you. In this updated and revised edition, author Dennis Parks covers new tools and techniques for dealing with ever-changing vehicular guidelines and technologies. New photography and updated step-by-step projects cover the latest information on panel adhesives, improved repair strategies, unibody vehicles, media blasting, panel overhaul and replacement, and tools and techniques for water-based paint products. The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair provides all the information you’ll need to deal with any bumps, bangs, and bruises your car encounters, as well as the many repairs required during a car restoration project. From tools to materials to techniques, this book takes you all the way through the process. Learn how to disassemble, repair, and reassemble bodywork, as well as how to prepare surfaces for paint. The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair equips you with all the information needed to return your car to its former glory and avoid paying a body shop for work you can do yourself. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.