How to Install Truck Body Repair Panels

What You'll Need
Pry bar
Ratchet and socket set
Ratchet extension
Feel gauge

The most obvious part of truck body repair is replacing a panel on your truck. Because many truck owners see panel replacement as being a major challenge, it might seem as if it should be left to a professional. However, this type of truck body repair is one you can easily undertake yourself.

Step 1 - How the Panel Fits

Different panels fit in different ways. Different makes of truck also use slightly different methods but there are several things that these panels have in common.

With a fender, for example, you’ll be able to see that it mounts to the body at several points. These will be at the door jamb using two bolts, another two on the core support and one bolt each on the cowl and the bottom of the truck cab.

Step 2 - First Fitting

Your new fender will come from the factory with the hardware to install it. Fit the fender on the truck to begin the truck body repair. At this point, however, you shouldn’t attach all the bolts. Loosely screw on the nuts for the bolts at the cowl and the bolt at the top of the core support. The fender should still be able to move quite easily.

Step 3 - Feeler Gauge

Close the truck door on the side with the new fender and adjust the fender to allow the door to close and open freely. It should look just about right and should sit in the position you want it to be in when fully tight. Use your ratchet and socket to tighten the bolt on the cowl at this point.

At this point, set the feeler gauge to the proper depth for the gap between the fender and the top of the truck door. Loosen the cowl bolt before you run the feeler gauge down the gap between door and fender, making sure you move the bottom bolt to the correct fitting position. You might need to pull the fender out slightly or possibly push it in. Once you’re happy with the fit, tighten the bolt at the top of the cowl and on the core support.

Step 4 - Adjustments

Apply nuts to the fender bolts and hand tighten before tightening all the way with the socket set. Check how the fender curves, and compare it to the panel on the other side of the truck. If you need to pull it out a little, loosen the door jamb bolts and very gently use your pry bar. Be very careful to ensure you don’t dent or damage the new panel. If it needs to go in a little more, the simplest way is to push with your hip.

Step 5 - Finishing

Check the gaps between the headlight and the fender and once you’re happy, tighten down the core support bolts at both top and bottom. Make one final inspection, finish tightening all the bolts and you will have completed the truck body repair.