How to Place a Body Panel
Think of body panels as puzzle pieces that completes the car. Not only that, the body panel also serves as a covering, a protection against the elements that will damage a car's frame for certain. Rust can start anywhere in your vehicle. Therefore, knowing how to put the body panel is a good skill to master. Here's how you can do it.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials
- Drill and bit
Patterning the new with the old
It is important to get the right fit of body panel onto the contours of your car. By doing this, your car will have an even surface. Clamp the replacement panel onto the old one, then align the ends so you could draw a cutting line along the edges.
Working on the replacement body panel
Now that all the marks are set, you're ready to work on the body panel. Separate the two panels, then make another 1/2 inch mark below the line you drew earlier. This allowance will make room for crimping the panel into place.
Cutting away the old panel
This is usually the delicate part. Cut away the old panel slow and steady so there won't be any irregularities. Once you encounter spot welds on the old panel, grind them away using a drill and bit to remove them.
Stripping the paint off
Use the body grinder to strip the paint off the metal, four inches above the cut. Make a flange along the edges 1/2 inch wide with a crimper. Be careful because any deviation will affect the fit of the new panel.
Attaching the new body panel
Now place the new body panel over the cut area. Use fasteners temporarily so that adjustments could be made if anything goes wrong. Remove the primer 2 inches from where the new panel will be welded.
Welding the new panel
Previously, you have seen that spot welds were used to hold the old panel together with the body. This time around, use stitch welds along the edges of the new panel. Make 11/2 inch welds that are eight inches apart. This will inhibit any warping that might take place. Grind any excess using the grinder to make the surface smooth for painting.
Putting the finishing touches
To make sure that the surface is really smooth, sand the new panel first. Afterwards, apply primer and let it sit until the panel is ready to be coated with paint. Paint all the way up to the four inch allowance you made earlier.
Body Panel Buyer’s Guide
- Body panels are thin sheets of metal, plastic, or fiberglass that make up the entire body of your vehicle.
- They are your vehicle’s first line of defense against external impacts caused by collisions. They also act as a barrier against outdoor elements, and are designed for optimal aerodynamic performance.
- Different types of body panels are found in different locations on your car, and each of them performs a specific function.
- CarParts.com offers OE replacement body panels that cost anywhere between $8 and $500, depending on the type as well as your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
- Our website makes it easier for you to find a replacement body panel that is compatible with your vehicle. Simply enter its year, make, and model on the website’s built-in vehicle selector to narrow down the results.
When you look at your vehicle, one of the first things you’ll see is its body panels. While they’re often valued for their aesthetic value, these panels actually play a crucial role in your vehicle’s safety and functionality. Made from sturdy materials, body panels are built to take a beating. However, they’re not impervious to damage. Normal wear and tear or accidents can take a toll on their appearance and efficiency, requiring them to be replaced.
What are body panels?
As the name implies, body panels are thin sheets of metal, plastic, or fiberglass that make up the entire body of your vehicle, giving it a distinct shape. There is quite literally more to body panels than meets the eye. Underneath them is an intricate web of mechanical and electrical automotive components that are connected to each other. By housing these critical components and serving as their attachment points, the panels keep them in good working condition and contribute to your vehicle’s optimal performance.
Benefits of a Body Panel
Here are the reasons why body panels are an integral part of your vehicle:
Enhances the vehicle’s overall look
Body panels complete the overall appearance of your car, so it’s important to keep them in tip-top shape if you want your ride to look sleek and well-kept. They come in a variety of designs and styles that allow you to restore your vehicle to its original look or customize it according to your preference.
The body panels are your vehicle’s first line of defense against external impacts caused by collisions. By absorbing and minimizing the impact in case of an accident, the body panels do not just improve your safety inside the cabin. They also protect various automotive components against significant damage that may compromise your vehicle’s overall performance and require costly major repairs.
Protects against outdoor elements
Because of their location, the body panels are the first parts of your vehicle that become subjected to harsh outdoor elements, such as rain, snow, salt, dust, and other debris. By acting as a barrier against these elements, the panels protect the cabin and the rest of your vehicle’s interior components from electrical, mechanical, and cosmetic damage.
Increases aerodynamic performance
Body panels determine the geometry of your vehicle, so they are often designed to provide optimal aerodynamic performance. A damaged or misaligned panel can create aerodynamic drag, which in turn reduces your car’s fuel efficiency.
Symptoms of a Damaged Body Panel
When you brush off small issues caused by normal wear and tear or minor accidents in the parking lot, the slight dent or a small rusty spot on the panel can eventually escalate into bigger problems.
Replacement is the best way to go when it’s already broken beyond repair. Here are the telltale signs that a body panel needs to be changed:
Body panels are constantly exposed to elements that can cause oxidation, such as road salt, water puddles, and chemicals. Once corrosion occurs, it can slowly eat away the metal panel underneath your shiny car paint.
Vibrations and banging noises
Have you been hearing loud banging noises accompanied by excessive vibrations from one of your vehicle’s body panels while driving? It’s likely that it has come loose because of corrosion, missing mounting components, or incorrect alignment.
Dents, scratches, and cracks
If you’ve recently been involved in an accident, the body panels of your car may have extreme dents, deep scratches, or irreparable cracks. While some may still attempt to repair these issues, the best way to ensure the structural integrity of your vehicle is by replacing dilapidated body panels.
Types of Body Panels
If you’ve ever tried looking for replacement body panels, you’d see that they come in a variety of types, so it’s absolutely important to know the specific one you need before you go shopping. Different types of body panels are found in different locations on your car, and each of them performs a specific function. The fenders, hood, and wheel well are examples of major body panels. Some other important types include, but are not limited to:
The bumper panels are located at the front and rear portion of your vehicle. They are designed to withstand the impact in case of a front- or rear-end collision, minimizing the damage to the rest of the vehicle.
Quarter panels are at the rear portion of your vehicle, usually welded into place between the trunk and the rear doors.
Rear body panels are found between the quarter panel and the rear bumper.
Valance panels are attached to the underside of your vehicle’s front- and rear-end bumpers. They’re often used to direct airflow and improve aerodynamics. Some valence panels that do not contribute to streamlining are simply used to hide the area below the bumper.
This component is located on the lower portion of your windshield. It acts as a storage for the windshield wipers when they’re not in use and protects the cowl against flying debris, dirt, and other outdoor elements.
Rocker panels provide structural support. They are located between the front and rear wheels, right below the doors.
The header panel is where your vehicle’s grille and headlights are mounted.
Cab back panels
If you own a truck, then you’re probably familiar with the cab back panel. This component is located at the rear part of your truck’s cabin. It holds the rear glass window that overlooks the truck bed.
How much does an auto body repair panel cost?
CarParts.com offers OE replacement body panels that cost anywhere between $8 and $500, depending on the type as well as your vehicle’s year, make, and model. They are sold individually and are available in direct-fit type for a quick and easy installation.
Finding the Right Fit
Our website makes it easier for you to find a replacement body panel that is compatible with your vehicle. Simply enter its year, make, and model on the website’s built-in vehicle selector to narrow down the results.
Omix vs. Replacement: Which Body Panel Will Look Better?
Body panels that are installed on your car probably look like generic sheets of metal and plastic before machines mold and alter them. Much like these, the body panels from the brands Omix and Replacement are also universal in nature. Changes must be made in order to have that custom fit. With so much work needed just to replace the body panel, you want to make sure that you get the best stuff. Here's how you can determine which is which.
Omix has a pretty specialized line of products, with the majority of their products dedicated to the Jeep roster of vehicles. In the other corner, Replacement is pretty much as generic as it gets. For this one, being universal as possible means more models can be fit with a part. Therefore, Replacement will have its way against Omix.
Replacement offers body panels that are well within affordable prices. They are in the $80 to $150, depending on the part. Omix is much more expensive. It almost doubles the price range of Replacement by being in the $100 to $300 price range. Again, Replacement gets the upper hand.
Now this is where Omix will be able to show its true value. Omix readily offers a three-year Omix limited warranty for their body panels as opposed to Replacement. Replacement could only offer a one-year unlimited mileage warranty. Longer warranties normally translates to better value.
While they clearly draw their own strengths, both brands exhibit great worth. Omix body panel is more of a specialized item that may be better off for your vehicle if it happens to be included in their line-up. Replacement makes the case for affordability and compatibility. But they may need a lot more alterations since they are more on the "one size fits all" mold. Taking advantage of their strong suits will never leave you hanging for more.
Car Body Panels: How to Replace Them
Your vehicle might be a road accident survivor but the daunting dents and dreadful damages will always remind you of that dreaded day, unless you have your car body panels replaced. Repairs and replacements used to be stressful and expensive. But with the arrival of hundreds of companies that sell car-specific body panels, gone are the days when you still have to bring your vehicle to wallet-emptying body shops. Whether you want to get rid of an unattractive dent or you just want to change a rust-infested part, a hassle-free replacement is now possible in the comfort of your own home.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- New body panel
- Ratchet and socket set
- Lubricant spray with rust inhibitor
Step 1: Remove the plastic skirting of the old body panel using the screwdriver. You may need to reach under your car to completely take out the protective skirting.
Step 2: Reach for the metal tabs behind the panel and remove the nuts and bolts that attach the panel to the vehicle. Spray a small amount of lubricant if the bolts are too tight. Remove the old body panel.
Note: The lubricant spray will also help clean the rust that accumulated around the bolts. If the bolts are gravely damaged by rust and are already beyond repair, replace them with new ones.
Step 3: Position the replacement body panel on your car and compare the location of the bolt holes. Re-install the bolts through the tabs but leave the nuts loose. Check all the sides of the panel and make sure that all the gaps are even.
Step 4: Tighten all the nuts to secure the new body panel in place. Re-install the protective skirting under your vehicle.
The installation process can be done by one person. But it is advisable to ask for someone's help in carrying the replacement body panel. The entire process can take a few hours even for expert DIYers.