How to Replace a Quarter Panelby Will Chandler
Automotive body repair is a very specialized process. Welding, sanding, alignment, and attention to detail are all part of the body repair process. Cars are made of several pieces of metal with both fasteners and spot welds to hold the parts together. Most spot welds will be located on the outer fender and quarter panel to hold on the large exterior pieces of the car. Changing a quarter panel involves drilling spot welds, cutting excess metal, and replacing the old metal with new metal.
Gather all the necessary materials and be sure that the new quarter panel is in satisfactory condition. Identify the panel that needs to be replaced and how it is secured to be body of the vehicle. Spot welds are used on the outer layers of the vehicle because they are stronger than fasteners.
Place gloves on before beginning. Remove the panel from the body. If the panel is spot-welded in place, use the step down drill bit and drill out the spot welds. The drilled hole should be slightly bigger than the weld and it is not necessary to penetrate through both layers of the joined metal. Most panels will have spot welds every 6 to 8 inches.
Cut out the wheel well approximately 1/2 inch toward the middle of the vehicle from where the quarter panel meets the inner fender. Remember that you can trim metal that is left over, so it is safer to trim slowly than cut too much away.
Trim the excess metal away from the body and smooth all the edges where the new panel will be placed. Test the new panel by placing it in place to ensure a smooth fit.
Use the clamps to hold the new panel in place. Place a clamp every 12 inches to ensure a tight connection. Most of the accessible places are underneath and toward the rear of the vehicle.
Join the new panel to the body of the vehicle, using the welder. Use a low heat setting, and weld in short intervals so you do not burn through the thin metal. Alternate welding spots to allow the metal cooling time. This will prevent warping and damage to the panel.
Review all the spot welds to ensure a proper fit and strength of the bonds. A proper weld will puddle in the hole and secure the two panels together.
- Place Silly Putty around the spot to be welded. The putty will help dissipate heat created from welding.
- Welding is dangerous and in some cases uses flammable gases. Do not weld if you do not understand how to properly operate a welder.