Fenders are among the most important components of a vehicle. Located on both the passenger and driver sides of your Ford Explorer, fenders are the panels that extend from your SUV’s doors to the front bumper. Depending on the year of your vehicle, the fenders may also be integrated within the front fascia of the car, or they may be completely separate panels. In addition to functioning as a safety component and protective panel, fenders can also add to the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle. As a safety component, fenders are made to bend during side and front collisions in order to protect the vehicle’s occupants from injuries. As a protective component, the fender limits the exposure of your SUV’s engine and body to the elements, reducing the likelihood that they will come into contact with corrosive elements.
Why Replace Your Ford Explorer Fenders?You may be compelled to replace your fenders for several reasons. The first reason is visual appeal. You may enhance your Explorer’s body with a unique, distinct fender to make your car stand out from the rest as you drive down US 101. The second reason is based on necessity. Since fenders are infamous for sustaining damage during low-impact collisions, the term “fender bender” has become synonymous with minor accidents. Regardless of the reason why you’re looking to replace your fenders, there are a few basic steps to follow to ensure you’re correctly installing these components.
How to Install New Fenders on Your Explorer
1. Verify the fender is in good condition.Although an obvious first step, it’s important to check that your new fender has not sustained damage during the shipping process. Carefully inspect the packaging and look for visible signs of damage, including punctures, dents and bends. If you purchased any additional accessories, make sure that they are included before you begin to install the fender on your Explorer.
2. Remove the old fender.Since fenders are securely attached to the vehicle, you’ll need to allow some time to remove the old fender before you can install a new one. If you’re simply changing your fender to switch up the look of the truck, this process will be a little easier since the retainers on the original fender won’t be damaged. However, this task may be a little harder if you’re removing the fender due to an accident since the retainers, including screws, nuts, rivets and clips, might have sustained stress during the collision. The easiest way to remove the old fender is to detach it from the front bumper. Remove the turn signals and headlights from your Explorer to protect the components from unintended accidents and to allow for a greater range of motion when it comes time to fit the new fender onto the body.
3. Ensure the proper fit for your new fender.In almost all cases, the new fender or the body of your car will require some alterations in order to ensure a perfect fit. To avoid any surprises or missteps once you begin the attachment phase, take some time to make sure the fender will fit as designed since any gaps will ultimately compromise the integrity of the component. Your Explorer’s rails run around the area of the car where the hood rests when it’s closed. The top of the fender is then bolted to these rails during the installation process. It’s important to get the fit right in order to weather-seal the car’s hood and the top of the fender. The hood rails are easily bent during the fender removal process or accidents since they’re manufactured out of malleable metal. Therefore, you should hold the new fender in place to see where you’ll need to align the hood rails before installing the fender. If you need to make an adjustment, use a hammer and dolly to tap the hood rail into place.
4. Attach the new fender.The only way to make sure the fender will fit perfectly onto your Explorer is to attach it to the body at a couple of secure points. If you need to do more adjusting, you’ll be able to easily remove the fender to do so. When the fender is attached, you can also check the hood and door clearance to ensure they don’t hit the fender when you close them or open them. If the fit appears to be correct, you may need to drill holes into the new fender to line up with the holes on the hood rails where you will attach the fender. By bolting the new fender to the side of the SUV, you can make more accurate marks for drilling at the top. Once you drill holes into all of the necessary points, you can finally bolt the new fender to your Explorer to permanently install it.
5. Finish the job.Once the new fender is securely attached to your Explorer, you can replace any attachments such as the headlights that you disconnected during the removal process. Recheck hood and door clearances once more to make sure they didn’t shift while you were attaching the fender. If needed, you can use an angle die grinder to shave off any excess surface on the fender.