How to Install Body Panels on a Chevy Truckby Russell Wood
Whether you're restoring a truck back to its former glory, or just putting it back together after an accident, installing body panels on your truck can be a bit tricky. It's a matter of lining things up correctly and making sure that everything is spaced right. But if you put some time into the process and make some careful measurements, you can do this at home with a few simple tools. In this case, the truck is a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and the body panel is a fender, but the process is similar for other Chevrolet vehicles as well.
Lay the fender onto the truck. On the 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, the fender mounts to the cowl, at the bottom of the cab, with two bolts in the door jam and two on the core support.
Loosely bolt the factory hardware into the factory bolt holes and loosely secure the fender to the vehicle. Only bolt on the bolt on the top of the cowl, the one at the bottom of the fender near the door, and the one on the top of the core support.
Shut the door on the truck if it's not shut already. Push the fender into place so that the door can open and close freely without the door contacting the fender, but so that it also looks appealing to your eye. Then tighten down the bolt on the cowl using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set.
Adjust the feeler gauge so that it measures the correct depth of the gap between the top of the door and the fender. Then loosen the bolt on the top of the fender using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set. Place the feeler gauge in the gap between the fender and the door and the bottom of the door, and adjust the gap on the bottom bolt accordingly. If the gauge says you need to pull the fender out closer to the core support, then do it, or vice versa. Once the gap matches, tighten down the bolt using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set. Repeat the process for the top of the cowl.
Open the door and loosely bolt the two fender bolts through the door jam using the 3/8-inch ratchet, extension and socket set. Tighten these down and shut the door. If the curve of the fender doesn't match the curve of the door, then adjust it using the pry bar. To push it out, loosen the fender bolts in the jam and then use the pry bar to push out the fender from the door jam. If the fender is too far to the outside, push it in using your hip, then tighten it down.
Secure the bolts to the core support. To adjust any gaps from the fender to the headlight, loosen the bolt on the top of the core support, then pull or push the core support whichever direction it needs to go, then tighten down. Tighten down the bolt on the core support towards the bottom at this point as well.