How to Roll Fenders: Prevent Damaging Your Wheels in 7 Easy Steps
Cars have many parts that are susceptible to damage due to friction. Our vehicles are a big sum of mechanical components. Thus, it’s not a surprise that some parts get worn out if not properly handled. Among the parts that are fragile are your car’s wheels.
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A flat tire is one of the most common problems when it comes to your wheels. However, the tires’ rubber can also thin out due to the fender. Knowing how to roll fenders is essential to prevent this from happening.
How Do My Tires Get Damaged?
Some car owners go through wheel change now and then. It can be for aesthetic purposes, or it can be out of necessity due to worn out wheels. With that said, if you change the type of wheels you install in your car, it could change its fitting.
Some cars have different wheel clearances that accommodate its own, specialized tires. For example, a Mazda has its wheel fitting that’s specifically designed to accommodate wheels that Mazda itself produces.
Hence, if you’re planning to switch wheels, especially custom made ones, problems can occur. Many owners tend to get overexcited with excellent customized wheel packages that they tend to overlook the smaller details. One of these details is your car’s fender.
The fender is virtually a guard for your car’s wheel that hangs right above it. It protects the body from any collision or damage due to friction between the tires. However, this protective component of your car can do damage to the tires if the clearance is wrong.
The wheels should have a compatible size with the fender. Ideally, you want the fender to be bigger than the wheels itself. Some rally cars that engage in high-speed races have oversized carbon fenders to protect the wheels from the heat.
The benefits of fender rolling
With fender rolling, the clearance of your fender will widen. Thus, it will have an easier time accommodating your new wheels. Fender rolling is a process where the inner lip of the fender is flattened. It usually goes from an L shape and transforms into a V-shape after the process.
This is done by applying heat and mechanical pressure on the fender. It’s important to understand that the inner lip of the fender is the one that can slash and scrape the wheels. Thus, we’ll need to target the inner lip only. Targeting the wrong parts can cause permanent damage to the fender.
What You’ll Need
- Heat gun
- Fender roller
- Customized or new wheel
- Jack stands
- Crocodile Jack
- Provided lug nuts and washers
Step 1: Buy and install your new wheel
The first step before fender rolling is to know the clearance of your car with the new wheel. Remember, you can immediately roll the fender without knowing how much space is in between the inner lip of the wheel.
With that said, buy your preferred wheels first. It’s important to note that you don’t need to do fender rolling if you’re going to replace the wheels with stock products from the car company. This should only apply if you’re buying customized wheels, wider, or larger wheels.
With that said, do the usual steps when changing tires, and simply install the wheel. You don’t have to replace all four wheels. Rather, just install one and then check the clearance.
Step 2: Check the clearance
Checking the clearance of the wheel is simple. All you have to do is use your fingers as a basis to gauge the thickness of your new wheel. Place three fingers (the index, middle, and ring fingers) in between the space of the fender and the wheel.
If space feels tight, then that means it’ll need new fender rolling. A standard clearance should have four fingers (with the pinky included) comfortably snug in between the fender and tire.
However, it’s important to remember that this varies depending on the type of your car. For example, if you have an off-road SUV, then you’ll need to increase the clearance some more. This is especially the case if you always drive in off-road terrains.
Step 3: Jack up your car and secure
The next step would be to lift your vehicle using a jack. Ideally, the best jack to do this would be the floor or crocodile jack. Follow the standard procedures when using this jack and carefully lift either the tail or head of your car.
Once you’ve lifted one side, use high-quality jack stands to lock it in place. Having only the one hand raised during fender rolling is okay. However, it’s ideal to have the entire car jacked up when doing this process.
Once you’ve lifted the car, safely remove the wheels and ready the fender roller and heat gun for the next step.
Step 4: Setting up the fender roller
Fender rollers can be quite expensive, and you’re not going to use it often. Thus, it’s a good idea to ask your friends or go to shops that rent this tool. The fender roller should come with a set of washers and lug nuts to attach it to the wheel bearing.
You don’t need to apply any torque. Just install the washers to the extensions of the wheel bearings. Also, tighten the lug nuts to secure the fender roller in place.
The fender roller must be firmly attached to the wheel bearing, and it should stand straight up. It’s important to note that the roller must be at 12 o’clock towards the inner lip of the fender.
Step 5: Applying heat and rolling the fender
Step 5 will be the actual rolling process of your fender. At this point, you should have the heat gun working. Be sure to check out the standard rules of procedure when using and before using a heat gun.
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However, before heating it, be sure to check the inner lip first. It should be free of any dirt or residue, so wipe it clean first. Moreover, make sure the roller is aligned towards the inner lip and not the outer lip. You can adjust the roller through a screw cap located near it.
Roll the fender first without the heat gun to check its direction. The roller should apply just the right pressure, which means it shouldn’t be too hard to roll. Once the roller is smoothly swinging across the inner lip, get the heat gun and start heating.
Ideally, this should be done with an assistant or friend. One person should direct the heat gun towards the inner lip, while you swing the roller across the fender. You can try to do this alone, but it’s safer to do this with another person.
Continue to make pendulum swings with the fender roller. Meanwhile, the one handling the heat gun should treat it as if it’s a hair dryer. That means it should be in constant wrist action and it should not be static.
Continue doing this until you see the lower lip flatten inwards. The inner lip should turn into a V-shape with the outer lip. You want it to fold inside the fender to give that additional clearance.
Step 6: Install the wheels and check the clearance
Once you’ve seen the fender roll inside completely, you can now install the new wheels. However, before doing so, check if the inner lip is consistent with its folding all throughout. Furthermore, be sure to allow the inner lip to cool down first.
Once cool, give it another wipe. Afterward, you can now install the new wheels. To check the clearance, use four fingers with the pinky and check if it quickly fills the gap. If it does, then the clearance is good to go.
Step 7: Consider re-waxing the fender
Our last step would be for aesthetic purposes. Sometimes, the work you’ve done might not be the cleanest. Hence, you might want to consider re-waxing the fender or polishing it up with a buffer.
You can further enhance its appearance by adding a clear coat as well. Just do the usual methods of polishing up your vehicle to make it seem as if the fender wasn’t rolled!
Wrapping Things Up
Overall, fender rolling should be a piece of cake for most car owners. It’s not hard as long as you follow the correct steps in using the roller and heat gun. You’ll also have an easier time with a friend instead of working alone.
Just be sure not to overlook the simpler steps such as removing the tires and jacking up the car. These are integral to almost any repair or modification to your vehicle. Once you’ve finished those steps, all you need to do is wait for the inner lip to fold.
Remember, car modification should be a fun experience that will help you save a lot of money. Thus, don’t be scared to customize your car as long as you know the prerequisites it needs. Changing your car’s exterior hastily can cause significant consequences.
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