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Driver side fender out of whack

Hey fellow exploders. New here. Will have a post in new member forum soon with all the details of my exploder details and repairs. Thanks for all the help, It's nice to know there's a good community, especially since I plan on keeping my exploder, well, until it explodes. lol.

I have a 97 Ford explorer EB 4wd. V6 SOHC 155k miles.

As long as I can remember there has been this gap in between the driver door and the front fender. Never really bothered me, that is until recently when I had new hood struts and hood latch put in and tried to align the hood to the body. I have not ran into anything or run over anything since I have owned it (2006). Before that my step dad owned it since 2003 and he never abused it or was in any accidents.

here are some pics.

drivers side door:
imag0211s.jpg

as you can see its way out of whack, no clue how it happened if it happened after its been in my family. I know it has been there at least 3 years, before that I don't remember. Again, no accidents since at least 2003. Previous owner, I have no clue, I believe he was a friend or colleague of my step dad and had lived out in Arizona driving this Explorer before selling it to my step dad. (We live in FL.)


anyway heres the upper part of the door:
imag0212z.jpg

its like the fender was yanked from the bottom outwards... but wait! there's more!

imag0213c.jpg


drivers side hood. Did not have a noticeable gap until after the hood struts were replaced. (hood struts were dead for years and I just used an EZ curl bar to prop the hood up on one side when working inside)

What you dont see in that picture is the distance between the metal part that is in between the hood and windshield.

This is the passenger side and you can see everything lines up nice. If you look at the metal part the wiper cowls mount to you will notice a gap there between it and the fendor... Well on the drivers side there is no gap. its like that whole metal piece that the wiper cowls attach to was shifted a good 1/4" to the right...
imag0214f.jpg



any ideas on what could do that and how I can fix it? or is that something that is better done at a body shop?

Thanks for the help.
 



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arco777

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It is possible that the fender was changed due to a minor fender-bender (ugh) and the replacement used was an aftermarket stamping. OEM fenders fit best and aftermarket ones don't always line up perfectly.

Another possibility is something is tweaked. On a Mustang I had, one fender stuck out like yours. Previous owner thought it was simply misaligned during a replacement. Wrong. Turned out that someone had jacked up the car and put the jack point on the floorpan (!), bending the floor so badly that the fender attachment point to the unibody was moved.

At any rate, this may not be an easy fix. A body shop may say "looks good enough to us" or they may have the tools to figure out what's out of spec. What you can do is look for obvious damage or misalignment at mounting points. Check for signs that the fender was replaced or that there was damage to the substructure. Good luck!
 






vroomzoomboom

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A body shop may say "looks good enough to us"

if you ever run across a body shop that says that, with that kind of misalignment, keep looking for a different body shop.

can you get a pic of the door and finder from the side looking strait at them, and a pic where the fender mounts from the rocker panel?
also, what is the hood gap from the hood to the cowl? is it also equal?
the hood to fender gap is a easy fix. just a matter of loosing the bolts on top of the fender and moving it to match the hood.
as for the door to fender, take those other pics. it might be bent underneath.
 






jeffjb88

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passenger side for reference










edit: I'm not sure what you mean by the rocker panel or where it is located.
 






vroomzoomboom

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the rocker panel is under your running board.

ef21.jpg


its the part that your running board attaches to

now if you look under the part that i outlined in red of your truck, you should see something like this

ef3.jpg


two bolts (circled in red), those are what bolts your fender to the bottom of your truck (rocker panel). that should not be bent in any way. if it is, that is the start of the problems, and at sometime someone has used that part of the truck to jack it up, and have now bent everything. if it is not bent, then the next thing you may find are shims (circled in yellow in my pic.). i know for a fact my fender has been replaced (deer hit it years ago) but i am not sure if it is a aftermarket, or oem fender. the factory sometimes to align a fender will use these (and body shops). at some time, someone may have put some in yours. if they are in there, loosen your two bolts and pull them out, then bolt the fender back in place. when you do this, you will also want to pull the bottom of the fender to the front of the truck.
the way i see it, is you have four problems with your fender. first is the fender is too tight at the top, near the cowl, and just a little too much gap at the front of the hood. second is it is too high. if you look at your body lines, they dont line up. third is it is too tight to the bottom of the door. and forth, it sticks out way to far (that was the main reason why you posted). if you have a problem where the fender bolts to the rocker panel, and can correct it from there, the 3rd and 4ths problem will most likely be solved in one shot.
hope i am not confusing you with this.
 






MONMIX

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Vroom seems to have this under control.

He is barking up the right tree.
 






jeffjb88

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Thanks for all the info. I will take a look at that sometime today or tomorrow if I have time.
Right now my truck has been in the shop since Thursday morning for warranty repair on the transmission (torque converter making a squealing noise in all gears except neutral and park), so I haven't had the chance to get under it. I'll get it back today and check it out. I plan on replacing both rear inside door handles and the cruise control buttons today as well.
 






jeffjb88

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Took a look under my car. You were right, it is bent to hell. Is this a DIY type of fix? or should I go to a body shop before I start trying to bend it back?


imag0232y.jpg



imag0235t.jpg
 






vroomzoomboom

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well, that is kind of a tough call. you would need to clamp the pinch weld (the part that is bent) then anchor it downwards, then lift the truck to pull it back to were it should be. most people wont have a clamp that can handle pulling back into place.
now is where monmix hopefully jumps back in because it has been a while since i have worked in a repair shop. if i am not wrong, they charge 2.8 hours for hook up, then 1.0 hours every pull (or reposition) after that. it looks like they would only have to make one pull. the other bounce is, if you go to a good shop, the should also include re aligning the fender into the pull time. shops to very in door rate, so i cant tell you what it would cost. you would have to sit back and ask how bad does this bug you. it may cost around $250 (thats my guess, but i am sure i am wrong).
also to add to this, i dont think a jack did that, i think a kid working at walmart changing oil, not knowing how to position a lift did that.
 






MONMIX

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Around there the standard was always 2.0 to set up, but here lately tight wad insurance companies have been sticking to 1.5
*shrugs*
Either way.

Since I cant get a real eye ball on it I am going to speculate some what.
Best case would be to hammer the back side of the pinch weld at get it at least vertical. Then break loose all the fasteners down the back side of the fender.
Should be one 8mm at the top and two at the bottom. I cant recall off hand if there is one in the middle that you access through the wheel house. If there is loosen that one too.
As long as the damage to the rocker is not that significant you should be able to message the fender back into conformity. If you have a thin dinging spoon ( cause every one has one of those right ? :rolleyes: ) putting that between the door and the fender will help tremendously.
 






AccordRanger

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Mine was like that and I just used a 5lb sledge to smack it back straight.
 






DjDom

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MONMIX

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I cant really see what you are showing me in pic #5.

Based on what I see though it seems your situation is similar. Nine times out of ten when a fender is bowed out like that it because the bottom has been pushed up.
 






DjDom

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I cant really see what you are showing me in pic #5.

Based on what I see though it seems your situation is similar. Nine times out of ten when a fender is bowed out like that it because the bottom has been pushed up.

The fifth picture was because I thought the door was pushed in. But I learned that the fender is actually pushed out.
I'm pretty sure the truck was jacked up by that point, because I have damage on the other side too, except the fender isn't pushed out, the bottom plastic trim piece is out of alignment.

What pictures can I take to get some help with this? I really want to fix it since it looks horrible and snow keeps getting in that gap..
 






DjDom

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I cant really see what you are showing me in pic #5.

Based on what I see though it seems your situation is similar. Nine times out of ten when a fender is bowed out like that it because the bottom has been pushed up.

Just gonna bump this thread to get more advice.

Monmix, how would you go abouts fixing this, pretending you have the average set of DIY tools.
Should I take the panel off and attempt a fix?
 






MONMIX

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with out being able to see the bottom its tough to say really.

Could be as simple as loosening the two 8mm bolts on the bottom of the fender and having a buddy push the curve in as you tighten the bolts.
Or as complex as repairing the pinch weld.
 






DjDom

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with out being able to see the bottom its tough to say really.

Could be as simple as loosening the two 8mm bolts on the bottom of the fender and having a buddy push the curve in as you tighten the bolts.
Or as complex as repairing the pinch weld.

Alright, so in other words, I should go out and take a ton of photos.
I know you're the guy everyone here goes to for body work. So, what should I take photos of?
The bolts on the bottom?
 






1992fordgreen

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I have a severe problem identical to this. Mine is a bent as crap as well, what tool would I need to bend this bugger back?
 






DjDom

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I have a severe problem identical to this. Mine is a bent as crap as well, what tool would I need to bend this bugger back?

Now I know of 4 people with this problem.

I looked under mine and the whole metal that the trim and fender bolt onto is bent bad.

I think mine is a matter of taking the running boards off, undoing the bottom fender bolts and straightening it all underneath.

My only concern is, how hard is that metal, would I be able to bend it using basic tools, and will it break if I bend it? It doesn't look like it lost it's structural integrity, just looks bent.
 



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MONMIX

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the first photo on post #8 is the exact photo I would want to see.

That said, if that part of your truck looks like the first photo on post #8 then you can just tell me, I probably dont NEED to see it.

If it is bent like that, get your self a bowl of Wheaties, and take your vitamins.

You will need a B.F.H., which stands for a really big hammer. ;)
Depending on how bad it is bent, you might need some crazy combination of pry bars and punches and stuff. What ever it takes to beat that lip around to vertical.

Take the two 8mm bolts out first. You will destroy them beating on them.
Once you get that lip to vertical you should be able to get it in the ball park. You might want a friend to help you align the fender on the out side wile you tighten the bolts underneath. Loosening the top 8mm bolt will help too. Be mindful of your gap as well. Open the door slowly and carefully when all the bolts are tight to make sure the door does not hit the fender.
 






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