Fender Rolling – The Ultimate Guide
Fitted awesome aftermarket rims, only to find your tires getting damaged? Fender rolling is the answer to your issues, and we cover everything you need to know.
- What Is Fender Rolling?
- How Much Does Fender Rolling Cost?
- How To Do A DIY Fender Roll
- Fender Rolling Steps
- Fender Rolling Gone Wrong
Any experienced tuner knows the feeling of finally sourcing your dream set of rims, fitting them to the car, and admiring the new look before lowering the suspension and proclaiming “Aww yeah” at the millimeter-perfect fender precision.
The obvious next step is to cruise around the neighborhood and show off your rides sick new shoes as fellow enthusiasts look on in envy.
As you cruise along, you hit a small bump in the road, only to hear a scraping sound that makes you wince, terrified that you’ve damaged your shiny new rims or perhaps even your bodywork.
You get out of the car and take a look around, but everything seems to be okay. Weird.
You then show off your wheels to your friends, who are equally as impressed with the new look as you are and want to join you on your cruise around the block.
Suddenly, you hit another bump in the road, and GOOD LORD, the car sounds like it’s about to fall apart.
By this point, you’re probably seeing evidence of the fender cutting into the tire, and it’s time to abandon your friends on the sidewalk and let them walk back before you cause real damage. I mean, c’mon, priorities – right?!
The problem is now apparent, the damn “L-shaped” lip that Nissan opted to put on the 240SX fenders from the factory is hitting your fenders under load.
Thankfully, the solution here is easier than you think, and you’ll be thankful that you won’t need to be putting those fresh new rims on Craigslist just yet.
What Is Fender Rolling?
Fender rolling is where you flatten the lip to create more space for the wheel inside the fender to prevent the tire from rubbing on the inner lip.
The idea is to increase the clearance between the outer edge of the tire and the fender lip by changing the inner lip’s ‘L’ shape into an acute ‘V’ shape.
Suppose you want to install wider wheels with bigger tires or reduce your vehicle’s ground clearance. In that case, fender rolling is essential before you potentially cause any damage to your tires or bodywork.
You may be wondering why your friends haven’t had to do this? The chances are their wheels aren’t as wide, or you’re running a lower offset, pushing your tire closer to the fenders.
Or, they may have already had their fenders rolled, or possibly even cut, by the previous owners. There’s also the possibility that they have overfenders fitted.
Fender rolling is extremely common in the tuning scene. Since the fender lips serve no real purpose, we carry out fender rolling on all of our cars to provide maximum clearance and the best aftermarket rim choices.
When you’ve run out of tires on your drift day, you’ll be thankful that you can take up your buddy’s offer of fitting his spare rims without worrying about clearance issues.
How Much Does Fender Rolling Cost?
If you’re looking for a flawless finish, you can expect to part with around $50-70 per fender for a professional job.
It might seem a lot, but a professionally done fender roll will not damage the paint at all, and when you pick the car up, you’ll have no idea anything has changed until you peek into the fenders.
When doing the job yourself, it’ll be cost of the rental or purchase cost of the fender roller tool, along with some basic cleaning products.
Fender Rolling Service Near Me
If you are one of those who prefer to leave the work to the professionals or lack time to do it yourself, you could always get a garage to do it for you.
The best people to do it are those that are into motorsport, especially those that specialise in drifting.
How To Do A DIY Fender Roll
If you’re not TOO fussed about getting a perfect finish, there are a few options available for carrying out your fender rolling.
However, if you are unsure, we recommend seeking the help of professionals, as there is a risk of damaging your car’s bodywork if not done correctly.
Fender rolling is easier than you thought. You could even get your (trusted) friends to come over and help with the offer of some beers.
Make sure you save the beers until the job is complete, or it could be a disaster!
Fender Rolling Tool
Fender rolling has become a big business and commonplace that there’s a specific tool for the job.
Thankfully, the days of JDM-style baseball bat fender rolling are long gone. Well, almost. We recommend watching this video for (yet) another reason not to roll your fenders with a baseball bat!
So, given that a baseball bat is out of the question (right?!) Two options are available – you could buy or hire the fender rolling tool.
Where Can I Get A Fender Rolling Tool?
Various brands are available on the market, from very low-priced light duty to heavy duty rollers. The choice is yours.
We recommend getting the tried-and-tested Eastwood Adjustable Fender Roller tool, which we’ve found to be perfect.
Fender Rolling Tool Rental
Alternatively, many vehicle workshops and garage equipment suppliers hire out the fender rolling tool.
Expect to pay from $40 for a weekly rental, plus a refundable deposit and insurance.
While this rental option is likely to make sense if you’re only doing the job once, it may be worth buying a fender rolling tool if you plan to do it on future cars, or you could split the cost with friends who also need their fenders rolled.
What Additional Equipment Is Required For Fender Rolling?
You now have the fender roll, purchased or hired. The next important item is a heat gun. These two pieces of equipment are the basic tools for fender rolling. The rest are tools that you would normally have on your car for tire changing.
These include the car jack and wheel nut spanner. Remember you need to take off the wheel to roll the fender.
If you have access to a workshop lift, you only need to lift the car to a comfortable working height.
Fender Rolling Steps
Now that you’ve got the necessary equipment for the job let’s look at the steps for successful fender rolling.
You can either watch this great video on how to roll your 240SX fenders, or continue reading:
Step 1: The first thing is to jack and chock the car, with the handbrake on and the car in gear.
Step 2: Remove the wheel on the corner you want to do the fender rolling.
Step 3: Replace the wheel with the fender roller tool. The tool is secured the same way you connect the wheel, but make sure you read the manufacturer instructions carefully.
Step 4: Once the vehicle is securely in the air, remove the fender liner (if you have one installed) to access the fender lip. Also, remove any plastic clips that may be affected by the heating.
Step 5: Clean the general area using an old rag and a brush – even your old toothbrush will do. Next, clean out the dirt above the fender lip itself, as any loose debris could get stuck and cause an issue.
Step 6: We are assuming that your fender is all metal. It can be worth checking the area with a magnet to ensure the fender doesn’t have filler from a previous bad repair job. We can assure you that attempting to do fender rolling on filler, plastic, or fiberglass will undoubtedly end in disaster, so NEVER try this.
Step 7: Once the fender roller is secured, you can start heating the inner lip, which will help soften the paint to avoid cracking and allow the metal to bend. Make sure you avoid getting the gun too close. Heat the area you plan to begin with to a temperature just about hot to the touch, and start rolling. Having two people on the task can be a big help here.
Step 8: Remember that heating helps soften the metal and stretch the paint to avoid cracking. You can start the rolling from the 9 o’clock position and work your way slowly, heating each section to a comfortable hand temperature.
Step 9: Roll a small section at a time, gradually increasing the angle to get a smooth roll. Patience is critical to getting a perfectly smooth result. Work methodically and patiently until the whole lip is rolled.
Step 10: Check for any paint imperfections appearing as you roll, as this is usually a sign of overheating, and you must notice this before it escalates. In this case, you might need to revise your methods by holding the heat gun further from the paint or double-check with a magnet that the area doesn’t contain fiberglass or body filler. You might need to abandon the mission.
At this point, your work should be complete! When done, clean up the area, admire your work, and don’t forget to hand out the beer to your friends, assuming they’re still around!
Fender Rolling Gone Wrong
If a fender has been rolled perfectly, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s been done.
Why? The reason is simple. Fender rolling is done on the inside of the fender.
The exterior should be smooth, just like it was before the rolling. With a job well done, there should be no evidence that the paintwork has been damaged, even the slightest hint.
That is evidence of a good fender rolling job.
On the flip side, here’s what happens when it goes horribly wrong, which is why we KEEP reminding you to check for fiberglass or filler:
What Could Cause Fender Rolling To Go Wrong?
If you are an amateur, you must be wary of what could go wrong. It will not be a pleasant sight if it does.
Let’s look at things to be on the lookout for.
The first thing to consider is taking your time to do the rolling. Dedicate a day, and please be sober while you are at it. Remember – don’t drink and fender roll!
Apply the heat gradually and consistently. That is very crucial. If you don’t, you will end up with a forced and uneven roll, as if you used a baseball bat.
Evidence of a poorly done fender roll shows up in dents, warps, or cracked paint that will get worse with time and potentially rust eventually.
How Can You Correct A Poorly Done Fender Roll?
If your fender rolling hasn’t gone to plan, the best option is to install overfenders.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as overfenders are a great way of achieving the ultimate fitment and enhancing the aesthetics of your beloved ride. You may even wish to consider going down the Rocket Bunny route.
Now that you have done your fender rolling, you are free to fit in your wider wheels to achieve the perfect stance on your 240SX.
You can also safely maximize the potential of your new wheels and S13/180SX/240SX coilovers to improve the handling, grip and body roll.
At this point, your newly installed wide wheels could present yet another problem. They could rub onto your upgraded brake calipers. Thankfully, there is a convenient way to deal with that, too.
You can conveniently push the wheel away from the brake caliper by installing spacers, easily providing additional clearance. Pushing the wheel further out will make you even more glad that you rolled your fenders!
We hope that this guide has provided you with everything you need to know when it comes to fender rolling.
If you’re looking for more upgrades to modify your 180SX/240SX then make sure you check out the wealth of information that we have around the site.
Once you’re done, don’t forget to share. Happy fender rolling!
Thanks to itzjere on Flickr for allowing us to use their photography for this article: