My front driver side fender had been rusting from the inside out for quite some time; finally the bubbling was getting to where it was breaking through the clear coat. I decided that rather than crawl up into the fender as I had done in previous attempts to slow the corrosion, I would take the fender off and paint the back of it where I would be able to easily sand and paint. Up here in WNY (or the North East US for that matter) it isn’t a matter of stopping corrosion, just fighting to slow it down.
Anyways, before taking the fender off, I searched for a write up on it, hoping to have a guide should I run into any speed bumps such as hidden fasteners or the like. I was not able to find any decent ones, so I took pictures and intended on doing a write up on it for you guys
- Flat Screwdriver
- Phillips Screwdriver
- 10mm Open Ended/Ratcheting Wrench
- 10mm Socket
- T-30 Torx Bit
You’ll want to begin by pulling your cleaned, waxed WJ into the nice warm garage so you don’t freeze your *** off outside in the 20 degree weather, hah.
Removal of Fender
Jack your Jeep up, chock the wheels and take the wheel off. Yes you probably could accomplish this with the wheel on if you had to, some people will tell you that you can, but these people are not your friends, they just want to see you suffer, hah. If you’re me, at this point, take a look at your front rotors and realize that a brake upgrade is in your near future.
Anyways, go into the fender and pull out the push fasteners from the inner fender cover, they come out easiest with the proper tool, but a flat bladed screwdriver will do. Drag that out of your way, careful not to get all the dirt and garbage that is inevitably shoved up in between the inner and outer fender, into your eyes as I did looking up into there as I moved it around. While you’re in here, reach into the rear of the fender (towards the driver’s door) and pull out a piece of foam that is in there. If you can’t get a decent grip, you can push it from the other side, from inside the driver’s door hinge area.
Now in the back of the wheel well, on the rocker panel cladding (not sure if this is the same for Limited models with the painted ones) remove the Phillips headed screw.
You’ll have to pull the cladding away from the body to reach the two bolts from underneath the body that go through the bottom of the panel. I found that by removing the front-most square pop clip inside the door frame, this task was made much easier.
Behind the cladding, there will be two 10mm/T-30Torx bolts (you can do either, I found the 10mm ratcheting wrench to work fantastically here). You will have to take both of these out.
If you ever happen to catch some of these on sale, get them. I was always the one saying I wouldn’t need them, didn’t mind lifting the wrench off the bolt and putting it back on, but these really do make so many spots so much easier to work in
The next bolts I would undo, are located inside the front bumper cover, yet you can undo them easily so long as they aren’t rust welded in so bad that you strip and break the bolts… (Yea that was a ton of fun for me, ended up taking my electric impact gun to get them off after destroying both the Torx head as well as rounding the bolt, all the while using the torch trying to heat it enough to release them.) As a result of how bad they were in there, I had to remove the bumper cover to get to them with any sort of leverage.
This was after I had already broke them off
Now I’m going to mention this right now, on the back of the header panel/thing that holds the headlights in, there is a sort of pop clip type thing that needs to be undone before the fender is removed. This doesn’t come into play now unless you can get it to stay unclipped, just remember it for later when you’re trying to remove the fender and it just seems to be stuck on something but you don’t quite know what.
Now go back to where you removed the foam insert, the one in front of the driver’s door hinge. There are two gray colored studs that you need to loosen just enough to slip the fender out.
Now the final push, the bolts that need to be removed along the edge of the hood. The front two of them need to actually be taken out, while the one under (don’t worry there’s an access hole, this is where the Torx bit comes in) the hood’s hinge just needs to be loosened enough for the fender to be pulled out.
At this stage, you should be able to pull the fender away from the body and carefully lift the lower piece (where the cladding is) up and out, it took some flexing of the plastic cladding down there for me to be able to get it out, but it wasn’t particularly difficult.
Now just to quickly run through what I personally did at this point. (Respectively Pictured Left to Right)
- Sanded down the rusted areas best I could with either wire wheel or sandpaper
- Covered the rusted areas with some Naval Jelly
- After that was cleaned up, used some Rustoleum Rust Converter spray
- Then over the spray on the fender I sloppily applied some Rustoleum with a brush while in the wheel well I used up what was left of a can of Undercoating
- Cleaned out all the gunk that had accumulated inside the rail on the top of the body there
- BREAKTIME! Haha
Putting Fender Back On
Pretty much just put the fender back and do the fastening process in reverse, though you will want to NOT
tighten everything up until you’ve made sure all your gaps are in the correct range. For example, if the panel is too far back, you’ll bend it in with your door the first time you open it if you’re not careful. Edge the bottom down in first when placing the panel back on.
Take your super-expensive-hightech panel gapper and before tightening anything down, try to move the panel far enough forward that the gap in between the door and it is large enough that contact will not happen in any area. It will probably take a few tries to get it right, just make sure to check all clearances before cranking it down and ripping open a door.
For the record, the paint was scraped off there before I started, but that is obviously a problem area
And I believe I’ve covered everything then. If I’ve left anything out or made any glaring errors, please tell me so I can edit it. This was written over the period of a day when I had the chance to do so, so my mind might have told me I got something down that I really didn’t.