The Rocker panel is one of the most important parts of the vehicle which is also known as Rockers. Rocker panels strengthen the structure of the truck by ensuring that it does not droop in the middle of your vehicle.
They provide structural support so that the cabin of your truck is not deformed as a result of the collision. As you may know, the structural strength of your truck is an important factor in vehicle safety.
As soon as you notice damage and erosion on the rocker panel, it is wise to deal with it immediately. Because if you are late, your truck will be weak. In this article, we will know how to replace rocker panels on a chevy truck by following a few steps.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Rocker Panels on a Chevy Truck?
We should think about the budget before going for any automobile replacement work. You need to know how much it will cost or how much labour cost will be required to replace the rocker panel of your Chevy truck.
Replacing a rocker panel may cost you as much as $50 to $250 just for the parts. Some items may cost more or less depending on the model of your truck. Your labour costs maybe 4 to 16 times extra than the price of the items that means about $1000 to $4000!
The amount may seem a bit expensive to you. However, it includes the cost of removing your door after installation and polishing for welded-type panels.
How to Replace Rocker Panels on a Chevy Truck?
There are two types of rocker panel replacement on a Chevy truck. They are-
- Welded Rocker Panel and
- Slip-On Rocker Panel.
Which type of rocker panel you should follow depends on the condition of the current rocker panel in your truck.
How to Replace Slip-On Rocker Panels on a Chevy Truck?
For slip-on replacement, a new panel can be mounted using adhesive/glue or fasteners instead of welding. In this case, the truck doors do not need to be removed.
Step 1: Disassemble the Old Metal
First, you need to cut the rusty metal from the old rocker panel and use an angle grinder for this. You may need to use up to five blades in total to complete the cutting.
Notice if the rocker panels and doors in your truck are down. If the answer is yes, then you may need to cut off a large portion of the panel to fit the new slip-on properly like most used to do.
Step 2: Remove Rust and Elongated Chips
Now, use a hammer and a prick bar to clean any rusty metal from under the door. If residual rust remains, it will be a source of re-rust. Then, you can’t weld well to rusty metal. As a result, you won’t get the clean, strong welding you want between the replacement panel and the existing one.
Step 3: Rub or Sand the Remaining Rust
Remove rust and dirt as much as possible. Then use a 50-grit disc after you have cleaned the remaining rust and paint the grinder. Check out the new Slip-On Rocker panels after a while and check if they fit well. Verify there are no curved edges that prevent the rocker panel from sitting against the rest of the new one.
Step 4: Make the Coating Using Rust Resistant
If the edges of your truck’s rocker panel have been sanded and cleaned, use verified rust resist. You can also cover it with anti-rust paint instead. The exposed metal will not be likely to erode in the future. We also recommend covering the back of the new rocker panel using rust-resistant.
Step 5: Mark and Bore Holes
Did you fasten the rocker panel to the truck using rivets? So now your job is to mark the holes for the rivets evenly spaced. For this, every two inches is enough. However, it varies greatly depending on the shape and complexity of the rocker panel.
If you want to weld the slip-on rocker panel, make sure your rivets are about an inch away from where you would place your weld bid to mount the slip-on panel to the current rocker. Use your handheld drill to drill 1/8-inch holes in the marks.
Before you start drilling, make sure 100% that your slip-on rocker is exactly where you want it to be. Otherwise, the new panel will not fit well. You can take the help of clamps for drilling, or you can have someone else help you hold it while you drill.
Step 6: Smooth the Edges of the Perforated Hole
Smooth the spars created for drilling on the back of the slip-on panel and the side of the truck with the help of flat discs fitted in the grinder. This makes the metal swell outward along the edge of the hole and make it difficult to fit in the position of the panel. When done, apply engraving primer on exposed parts of the panel.
Step 7: Mount the Rocker Panel on the Truck
Now during the final task, i.e. using adhesive or stencil, the slip-on panel has to be mounted on the truck. In this case, it is best if you start from the centre and move towards the edge. If you want to prevent the panel from relocating, it will be helpful to drill every third or fourth hole and then stuff it into the holes.
How to Replace Welded Rocker Panels on a Chevy Truck?
The rocker panels on your Chevy truck usually rust when they get stuck in the mud and last a long time. Once the rust has formed, it can quickly spread to the entire sheet metal of the rocker panel. In this case, welded rocker panel replacement can be a good solution.
Step 1: Measurement
Grab the new rocker panel on your truck to get accurate measurements and measures. Take a permanent marker and mark the truck along the edge of the new panel.
Step 2: Cut the Marked Part
Cut along the marker line using a grinder and cutoff wheel. Cut the marked part along the top, bottom and side of the rocker panel. Since metal edges are very sharp, use leather gloves when dealing with grinders and metal as a precaution.
Step 3: Clamp the Panel
Take extra precautions for this task and wear welding gloves and welding masks. Use the body clamp to clamp the new rocker panel in the right place. The rocker panel is lightweight so you don’t need too many clamps.
Step 4: Weld the Panel
Now, use the tack weld to weld along the edge of the panel and adjust the surface of the truck with the new panel. Each welding should be spaced four inches apart until the whole panel is welded and weld in one place at a time.
Tack welds should continue to be added until the whole edge is hardened to get good results. Sometimes the metal surface becomes too hot due to welding and as a result, the metal becomes unusable. Tack welding does not cause these problems. Once welded, let it cool for one hour.
Step 5: Grind the Welds
Rub the welds using a grinder until they are level with the surface of the rocker panel. However, do not grind too much as it may cause holes or cracks in the panel in the future. For this, just grind enough so that only the welds are flat.
Step 6: Apply Coating and Sand the Surface
Now, use a squeegee and apply a short coat of body filler along the welding line. Give the filler an hour to dry. When dry, rub using 180 grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. Rub with sand until the seam is smooth along with the rocker panel.
Step 7: Sand to Make Smother
Next, use a more smooth 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the entire area, including the seam and the new rocker panel. This will smooth the surface and make the surface suitable for paint.
Step 8: Apply Primer and Paint
Before painting, spray a coat of primer on the new panels and seams. When spraying, hold the can six to eight inches away from the surface. Now, take thirty minutes to dry the primer.
You need to apply a total of three coats. Wait five minutes between each coat. Coats should be kept thin so that the paint does not leak. Wait four to six hours in the area before taking any further action.
Rocker panels in your Chevy truck are prone to rust or damage. In this case, without taking them to a mechanic and wasting a lot of money, replacing them by yourself is an effective method.
In this article, we have covered all the things you need to know about the replacement of slip-on rocker panels and welded rocker panels. Depending on the condition of the rocker panel in your truck, pick the procedure and fix it in the way described above.