Picture this: you just dished out big bucks for a brand-new set of fresh wheels and tires but they do not properly clear the inner lip of your fenders. To avoid this unfortunate scenario, it’s important to measure the clearance between the tire and fender and possibly consider rolling the inner lip to accommodate an aggressive wheel and tire package. There are several misconceptions and hesitancy when it comes to fender rolling, so we are going to take a moment to discuss the benefits, when and why to do it, and how you can safely carry out the process.
What Is Fender Rolling?
Most vehicle bodies aren’t designed to accommodate much larger wheels than the ones that they come with. That is why many enthusiasts run into fender clearance issues when lowering their car or fitting a new wheel-and-tire combo. Fender rolling, also called guard rolling, is a solution that will prevent your tires from coming in contact with the fender itself so that damage and other problems don’t arise. More precisely, it is the protruding fender lip that gets folded up or “rolled” to get rid of the sharp edge. Not only will this keep your new wheels safe, but it will also clean up your setup to make it look better fitted.
So what is this phenomenon exactly? Fender rolling is a method by which the inner lip of a vehicle’s fender is rolled from an “L” shape into a tighter V-shape or completely flat U-shape using a heat gun and special tool that flattens it like a fender roller. By flattening it, the tire will have more clearance inside of the wheel well so that it does not rub. This practice is most often done on lowered cars so that the tires aren’t slashed into pieces from rubbing the inner fender lip.
Reasons for Fender Rolling
If you are looking to run some extra-wide tires to gain enhanced gripping performance, fender rolling could be right for you. It’s a common way to allow for additional clearance for the tires as well as allow for that super low, stanced-out appearance. Furthermore, if there isn’t enough clearance and you decide to drive like that anyway, you are going to get some nasty scratches on your tire sidewalls or even worse – on those shiny new wheels. All in all, there are three main reasons why vehicle owners consider fender rolling.
- Fender rolling prevents the fender from rubbing against the sidewall of the tire. After investing in a new setup, you don’t want your tires or wheels to get damaged from the metal lip inside of your fender. If you drive with poor fitment, the tires can easily get worn or cut and the fender paint can wear away too.
- The flattened inner lip allows for additional clearance, vertically, for slammed or lowered cars looking to achieve a more flush appearance.
- The flattened inner lip allows for additional clearance, horizontally, to accommodate wider wheels and tires for enhanced grip and overall performance.
Is Fender Rolling Safe?
If you are worried about your tires coming into contact with your fenders, you should really consider rolling them. Fender rolling seems to get a bad rep, but this usually comes down to people rushing the job, or not doing it correctly – both of which can end poorly. The main concern many people have when hearing the term “fender rolling” is the safety aspect of it. So, is it safe? The short answer is yes. As long as you have your fenders rolled by a professional using proper equipment, then the procedure is perfectly safe and could even enhance safety if you are lowered or running an aggressive fitment. It’s important to note that if your vehicle body has filler from a previous accident repair, you need to be careful because the fenders and quarter panels are more likely to move and flex during the rolling process.
And for those curious about attempting fender rolling at home, the answer is you can certainly do it yourself but it is not recommended. You definitely should not roll your fenders by yourself using a baseball bat in the driveway – not if you want a good result, that is. While is may have worked for some, it can easily make your project build look like a hack job instead.
Fender rolling requires precision and it can be very easy to overdo it and damage your fenders that way as well. A professional will mount a specialized fender rolling machine to your car’s wheel hub in place of the wheel so that the machine is firmly secured and can provide consistent leverage. The painted fender lip is then warmed up with a heat gun and force is applied to the lip as the roller wheel is run along the fender, swinging seamlessly in an arc to roll the lip of the fender until it is fully flat.
Rolling or Cutting the Fenders
In some cases, it may be necessary to cut your vehicle’s fenders, especially when customizing it with products like bolt-on flares. With that being said, it is not a good idea to cut the inner lip off. In situations where it may not be possible to roll the fender lip completely, shaving the lip is an alternative. Most of the time, though, the fender can be rolled without issue. Cutting the lip will weaken the metal inside the fender and expose it to the elements, thus prematurely rusting them. Cutting would also result in a very sharp edge that is counterproductive to the reasons as to why someone would roll their fenders. It is also not a good idea to cut the lip off the fender as it will look less-than-desirable. All in all, when in doubt, rolling your fenders is always the better way to go.