How do you trim your 4×4’s fenders?
In this article, we’ll go through the step-by-step process of carefully cutting them to make room for larger tires.
What Are Fenders?
Fenders are basically how they sound – they fit wheels and tires in place as they prevent any dirt from uncontrollably flying everywhere, the moment the wheels and tires move on the ground.
The problem with really huge tires is they have a tendency to be abrasive on your regular fenders so they create scratches and sometimes dents around the fender area that make fender trimming necessary.
Just don’t forget to remove the wheel with the help of a hi-lift jack or floor jack, before you start with the fender trimming.
1. Make a Fender Trimming Template
The fender trimming template will serve as your guide on how you’d want to cut your fenders. Creating one will help you quickly copy the pattern to the other remaining fenders because you just mark the same lines and cuts, again and again.
You may use an old newspaper sheet (or any material of your preference) where you can trace the pattern over. If the old newspaper sheet doesn’t properly stick to the surface once you tape it, you have two options; either you wipe the vehicle surface with a damp cloth and let it dry for at least three to five minutes or you may use multiple adhesive tapes.
2. Mark the Area That Needs Trimming
Wrap the old newspaper sheet around the fender’s portion and tape its side, the one that’s facing the fender’s interior. This allows the newspaper sheet to mold into the shape of your fender for easy cutting. However, your newspaper sheet’s center should be aligned with the door’s edge for uniformity purposes because you’ll be using it on the other sides as well.
3. Cut Your Newly-formed Fender Trimming Template
Cut the pattern on your newspaper sheet which indicates your guide on the trimming process. It’s okay to cut the pattern simply as it is along the door’s edge but see to it you leave a little allowance on the wheel pattern portion to help you figure out if there’s a need to make further trimming adjustments.
Obviously, if the fender trimming template reveals an excess space when you put it over the fender, you’ll have to cut it again until it finally matches your preference.
4. Remove and Trim the Fender
Of course, you can’t keep the fender attached to your 4×4’s body when you trim it because it not only makes the process difficult but also boosts the risk of accidental cutting.
Make sure you know where the bolts are located so you can properly detach your fender. Typically on 4x4s like pickup trucks’ bodies, two bolts are found below them, a bunch perpendicular above them, two in front’s lower part and one inside the door just behind it.
To unscrew the bolts, you have to use an impact wrench but for hard-to-reach areas, a ratchet or socket wrench can be pretty handy for the manual yet more controlled removal.
Afterwards, lay the fender on a clean flat surface and begin the cutting process via an angle grinder. Never forget to wear the proper gear for fender trimming. Use gloves to protect your hands from rough and sharp edges that aren’t clearly seen by naked eyes.
Put on a face shield to completely prevent dirt from entering your eyes. It’s much better if you pair it with a face mask to prevent accidentally inhaling dust that may go right under your face shield.
As much as possible, don’t use a sawzall because it has a tendency to drift away from your main cutting portion, where its blade just punches through the whole fender and flaps continuously.
You may use a dremel tool but its down side is the slow cutting process, so overall your best bet for cutting will be the angle grinder.
5. Inspect Fender’s Original Location
Since both wheel and fender are out of the way, you may want to take a closer look at the area where your wheel and fender have been.
Normally, there are two metal sheets connected together where your fenders are placed. When you hit a bump or an obstacle, these metal sheets absorb the impact and protrude, which make grooves or humps around the fenders. As a result, you have to hammer both of them to flatten their surfaces.
Afterwards, use an angle grinder to create a cut across the fender’s place about half an inch not only for added clearance for your springs but also to smooth out the rough edges of your fender. More on this matter when you go to Spencer Capiola’s channel.
6. Attach the Trimmed Fender
Re-attach the cut fender to its original slot and don’t hesitate to use impact wrenches and ratchets if you have to, just so it’s really back in its appropriate position.
Common Fender Trimming Myths
Just when you think that fender trimming can actually do more harm than benefits to your 4×4, you’ll be surprised that it’s actually the opposite provided that you completely know what you’re doing and it’s for the right reasons. Because of this, we busted some fender trimming myths.
Fender Trimming Is Scary
Many people say that trimming their 4×4’s fenders is scary because they don’t want to end up accidentally damaging it. If you’re a beginner, this definitely applies to you. However, if you have grown accustomed with basic fender trimming every now and then, you’ll be able to change previous mistakes and come up with a cleaner, more polished appearance for your fenders, even if you’re not a hardcore professional at fender trimming.
Fender Trimming Increases Risk of Rusting
Since the metal area will be exposed with the elements of oil, dirt, and air, people think that the risk of rusting is very high as oppose to just letting your factory fenders stay untouched. Surprisingly, even if you don’t do anything to them, rust still accumulates inside because there’s still dirt and moisture buildups.
3. A Little Space Between the Tires and the Fenders’ Lower Portions Is Fine
On the contrary, it’s better to have a large space between the two because, no matter what you do, the wheels will still move especially when you’re turning corners. The problem with the very little space is that once tires rub against the fenders, they’ll eventually detach the latter in place.
Check out other fender trimming tips on DPG Off-Road’s channel.
Trimming your fenders may appear to be a minor thing. But doing it properly helps you avoid the problem of your fenders violently rubbing against your very large tires which can damage them. It’ll also make your 4×4 run smoothly. Let’s know your thoughts by commenting below.