Whether you have lowered your car or fitted bigger wheels, the potential to catch your wheel on the arch increases with such modifications. Not only can this cause damage to your tires but it can also damage the wheel arch by bending the inner fender or worse.
If you fall within this category of catching your wheel on your arch, you will require a fender roller tool, which allows you to provide your wheels with much needed additional clearance.
Before you spend thousands on an aggressive alloy and tire setup, take into consideration your wheel arches. Will the low offset stick too far out of the wheel arch? Is there enough vertical clearance for the larger wheels? Is my car too low for these wider wheels to fit in my arches?
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Fender Rolling Before and After
Standard from the factory, the majority of wheel arches will have a curved piece of metal at a 60 to 90 degree angle. This is your fender, which picks up dirt to prevent debris going into the moving wheel.
Rolling the fender is the process of using a specialist tool to push the fender inwards and provide more clearance for your wheels. After rolling, if you run your finger under the arch, you will feel no metal at an angle. The result of fender rolling makes a huge difference for low cars with large or wider wheels.
Like many other enthusiasts, most of my cars are lowered with large wheels and a low offset. Personally, I think this looks great, however when you turn at full lock or have a full load in the car, catching the arch is very common. To provide you with an insight, below is a case study of fender rolling before and after on my very own car.
As you can see above, the arch has clearly been in contact with my wheel on a few occasions. This has caused slight rust and if you look closely, I have applied some rust prevention spray to prevent any further rust appearing.
The finished result is an inner arch that is almost non-existent and an arch that has been pushed a few centimeters outwards. This gives the wheel far more room and fixed the issue completely with my wheels scraping the front arch.
You may notice that I didn’t roll the bottom of the arch and this is due not wanting to ruin the shape of the arch as it connects to the front bumper.
How To Roll Fenders
To roll your fenders is fairly straightforward and is most effective following these steps:
- Remove the wheel
- Clean the inside of the fender (so no dirt gets trapped)
- Place the tool onto the hub and bolt on the lugs
- Angle the roller so it pushes the lips into the arch
- Increase the length of the arm so its touching the fender
- Heat up the outside of the arch where it will be heated (optional)
- Begin pushing the roller side to side applying pressure to the lip
- Readjust the angle and height to reach all areas of the fender
Rolling Fenders In More Detail
If you are a beginner in the fender rolling world, it’s probably best you read the in depth tutorial for a better insight.
The wheel must be removed in order to roll the fenders as the tool connects to the hub. If you have been using the wheels and rubbing on the fender, you should be able to see some rubber marks. These are the areas on the fender you should target the most and bend the fender into the arch.
The last thing you will want to do is to trap dirt in between the fender and the arch with no escape. This increases the chances of rust and will require rustproofing methods to rectify at a later date. Simply clean these areas with soapy water and you will be good to go.
Once placed on the hub, we recommend using a torque wrench to insert at least two lug nuts into the hub. This provides a stable fit as you won’t want the tool to slip and potentially cause damage. The tool will also come with wheel spacers, which are required in case the tool cannot pass through the brake caliper.
Step 4 + 5
Once the arch rolling tool has been setup, you will be ready for the most important part. Aligning the tool against the inner fender lip and not the outer fender lip. The screw attachment at the top of the tool will allow you to adjust the setup easily.
The heating process is a safety procedure to reduce the chance of cracking the paint. The front wheel arches will be the easiest, however to roll the rear will require more pressure. It’s strongly advised to have one person holding the heat gun whilst the other handles the fender rolling tool.
Once you have the correct angle, you will want to extend the length of the tool so that it is pressed against the inner fender lip. In a “pendulum” such fashion, you want to gradually swing from side to side against the fender lip until you are happy with the way it has moved from a “L” shape to a “V” shape.
It is best to target one area on the inner fender lip at a time. Don’t try and be a “hero” and do it all in one pendulum swing.
Rolling Fenders Advice
Most of the time, there is no need to be so aggressive with the fender rolling. You might only need a few millimeters clearance to stop the wheel rubbing.
In general, the front fenders are far easier to do than rolling the rear fenders as they bend easier. However, if you have an automotive heat gun, you will be able to make things slightly easier by heating up the metal. This also reduces the chances of the paint cracking, which can be really frustrating.
It’s important to note that the inner lip of the fender is the target when rolling the fender. This will be pushed into the fender thus widening the clearance and allowing more space for your wheels.
DIY Fender Rolling
Using the professional arch rolling tool is not the only way of to roll your fenders because you can also be hardcore. For DIY fender rolling without the tool, you will need either a baseball bat or large magazine and some bravery.
Using your tool of choice, place the bat (or magazine) onto the top of the tire and use your wheel as a pivot to push against the fender and bend it in. Do this slowly and not all in one big hit because this will cause a ripply fender.
For the middle of the front fender and the rear fenders, you will need to very slowly move the car forward. Keeping the bat moving with the wheel will roll the fender.
As a precaution, use a thick rag between the bat and the arch as well as using a heat gun to allow the metal to bend easier. Another useful tip is to inflate the tires further to reduce flexing in the tire against the bat.
Warning, this isn’t the best way to roll fenders and has the risk of damaging them too. However for those who don’t have the tool and aren’t that bothered about a few imperfections in their bodywork, this is a simple method.
I have also seen car owners using an angle grinder to remove the fender altogether. I strongly recommend that you do not use this method due to the sharp edges that will almost certainly damage your tires beyond repair.
Benefits of Rolled Fenders
I strongly recommend rolling your fender if your tires are catching on your wheel arches. You will know whether you need your fenders rolling if your tire catches under hard braking, turning around a corner or when the car is heavily loaded.
The benefits of fender rolling are:
- More clearance for lower offset wheels and spacers
- More clearance to increase tire width and profile
- Lower your car further without catching tire
- Able to drive the car harder for track use
- More Aggressive flared arches
Rolling your arches is fairly safe unless using tactics such as a baseball bat or angle grinder. The only hazard is cracking the paint or body filler if the car has previously been repaired. If you wish for a body shop to roll your fenders, then ask them what method they are using. If they are not using the arch rolling tool, I would personally walk away and pay someone who will.