Projects & Repairs --> Collision --> Rollover Repair --> Jeep Wrangler

Collision repair on a Jeep Wrangler.

Advanced Collision Repair:

Repairing A 2005 Jeep Wrangler After A Rollover Accident
Part 2

In This Article:

A new section of sheet metal is fitted into the driver's side. The driver's door hinge area is pulled straight. Winches are used to pull the damaged side into position. A new door is installed and the body gaps are checked, then the new side panel is welded.

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Skill Level: 5 (Professional)

 

By Jim Wilk, Licensed Auto Body Technician

Start:

Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part article. To read the Part 1, click here.

 

Two mechanics, who repair wrecked Jeeps as a hobby, bought a 2005 Jeep that had been "totalled" in a rollover accident on a trail.

They had a local "frame shop" straighten the frame, and then the owners brought the Jeep to us for the remaining body repair work.

Jeep with part of rear quarter panel removed.

In Part 1, I removed the damaged sheet metal and repaired the frame where the back bumper attached.

 

Replacing Body Panels:

The new grille radiator support and left front fender has been assembled.

This step involved a lot of bolts and wires, but it was easy work.

New grille and fenders installed on wrecked Jeep Wrangler.

 

Hood installed after being repaired.

After the hood was repaired the front sheet metal fit properly.

 

Next I returned to the rear of the vehicle.

I removed the rear quarter-panel and applied weld-thru primer to the areas that will be welded.

Rear section of Jeep body with weld-through primer applied to sheet metal.

 

Body Shop Welding Technique:

Before assembling the body panels, I drilled several holes in the panels (red arrows) to coincide with the metal support underneath.

I like to weld in the center of the hole and fill it in until it creates a button on the outside (which can be seen next to the holes with arrows).  These buttons can be ground down flush later.

I'll explain more later in this article.

Welding technique used in auto body shops.

 

Holes drilled in new auto body parts for welding to body. I drilled holes in the end of the side panel then clamped the end cap to the side panel. These two panels need to be welded together before mounting on the vehicle.

 

After welding the panels together along the flange (red arrow) I cleaned and primed the area.

As the photo shows, it would be a hard area to clamp and weld these pieces on the vehicle.

Jeep side and corner panels after welding together.

 

Fitting new body panels onto body of Jeep Wrangler. Then I started the final fitting of the panel and door.

After taking some measurements, I discovered that the left door was situated too far in at the top and too far out at the bottom. That meant that the body had been damaged around the driver's side hinge area.

 

After taking measurements from another Jeep, I pulled out the top hinge area using the frame straightening equipment. Pulling hinge area outward with straightening equipment.

 

Pulling sheet metal in auto body shop. I also found the upper area of the rear side panel was pushed in from the rollover.

Also, a section of the driver's side roll bar had to be replaced.

 

Finally, I was starting to develop nice gaps... Jeep body being repaired.

 

Gap between tailgate and corner panel on Jeep Wrangler. ...and the door and tail gate opened and closed properly.

 

When repairing a vehicle where panels have to be replaced and welded, we "jig the area". That means we support, screw down and clamp all the metal panels.

Then we weld it solid.

 

Since the left side has its outer skin loosely attached with some clamps and sheet metal screws, (and the right side is still original), the left side can be moved inward or outward.

I used two cable winches (red arrows) to hold the left side in the proper position relative to the right side.

Holding loose body metal in place with cable winches.

 

New auto body panels on damaged Jeep Wrangler. The alignment of all the inner (structural) panels and the outer (skin) panels is double-checked.

All of the panel gaps are checked again before welding.

 

Also, the rest of the hinge bolts are tightened down. Door installed before final welding on Jeep Wrangler.

 

Jeep door. I checked the door gaps again.

 

Welding The Body Panels:

Using a MIG welder, I welded in small strips of about one inch and then let the metal cool before welding more. I often use a wet rag to cool the metal, but some body technicians prefer to use compressed air.

This "stitch welding" is done to prevent the metal from warping.

Stitch-welding auto body sheet metal.

 

Body welding, temporary screws removed after welding. Then I removed the temporary hold-down screws...

 

...And I filled in the screw holes with weld bead.

Screw holes filled in with weld bead.

 

Remember how I mentioned earlier that I drilled small holes in the outer panels?

I welded through those holes into the inner structural panel to bind the two panels together.

During welding the area is clamped as tight as possible using special Vise-Grips.

Welding around small holes in body sheet metal to weld the panel to the vehicle.

 

Jeep Wrangler during body repairs, welding new panel in place. I like to weld in the center of the hole and spiral outward to fill in the hole until it creates a button of weld bead, which can be ground down flush later.

 

Caution When Welding Around The Gas Filler:

Whenever I weld around a gas filler I take some special precautions to prevent any gas fumes from igniting.

I apply masking tape around the cap (in case the cap doesn't seal perfectly) and then wrap it with a wet rag.

Then I cross my fingers and weld.

Caution when welding near fuel filler.

 

Body welding complete on Jeep Wrangler. Once the welding was completed, I removed all the supports, screws and clamps.

Then I checked the gaps again. If any gaps were too big or too small, I would rework the area.

 

Then I ground down all the welds until they were flush and smooth. Welds ground down smooth.

 

I sanded the panel down to bare metal. Then the joint was filled with fiberglass filler and finished smooth. Side panel sanded bare before painting, Jeep Wrangler.

 

Jeep Wrangler after being sprayed with primer. The bare areas were primed by the painter.

 

A Problem Arises:

I don't normally second-guess the work done by another auto-body professional, but on this job the person who straightened the frame missed some important measurements.

Any vehicle with a body-on-frame construction (which includes most trucks and many SUV's) has a chance of frame damage in a collision. A common type of frame damage is what we call a "diamond" in the body trade. Most frames are built like a ladder, with side rails and "rungs" or cross-members that connect the two sides. When a frame becomes diamond-shaped, it's like one side rail of the ladder has been pushed forwards or backwards compared to the other side rail. Consequently, the cross-members no longer make a perfect 90-degree angle with the side rails. If you measured the diagonals (from front-right to the back-left corners, and vise-versa), they would be different lengths... but they should be the same.

Have you ever seen a vehicle driving down the road where it looks like the rear of the vehicle is too far to one side? This is called dog-tracking, and it's often caused by the frame being diamond-shaped.

Dog-tracking causes all sorts of problems, such as improper steering function and excessive tire wear.

 

While the Jeep looked like it was ready to be painted, it wasn't. It needed to be returned to the frame shop for more repair work. Jeep Wrangler with frame problems.

 

Overhang of rear frame on left side is less than right side, Jeep Wrangler.

The left rear frame doesn't stick out as far as the right side.

 

At the right rear, the frame was sticking out one-half inch farther than the left side.

I suspected that this frame might be diamond-shaped.

Frame overhang on right side is greater than left side.

 

Distance between bolt and body was not same from right to left.

At The Front:

The anti-sway bar (stabilizer bar) left mounting bolt (which I marked in red) is farther away from the radiator support than the other side.

 

Note how the corresponding bolt on the right side was almost touching the radiator support.

This confirmed my suspicion that the frame was diamond-shaped.

Bolt head almost touching radiator support, Jeep.

I explained this fact to the owners of the Jeep, and they sent it back to the frame shop to fix the problem.

Jeep Wrangler after frame was straightened. After the frame shop fixed the diamond-shaped frame, the rear frame looked perfectly parallel to the body.

 

The painter applied Matrix Systems color coat followed by a clear coat. Wrecked Jeep Wrangler after being painted.

 

Repaired Jeep Wrangler. After painting I couldn't see any dents or waviness even when bright light was reflecting off the repaired side.

 

At the request of the owner, we applied a special abrasion-resistant paint on the inside of the bed. Abrasion-resistant paint on bed of Jeep.

After these body repairs, the owners took the Jeep back to their shop and replaced all the miscellaneous parts, such as tail lights, bumper, wheel flares, etc.

More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Mechanics Tools
  • Cable Winches
  • Body Puller and Clamps
  • Porta-Power Hydraulic Jacks
  • MIG Welder
  • Surge Protector
  • Oxy-Acetylene Torch
  • Spray Finishing Equipment

Materials Used:

  • Replacement Body Panels, Aftermarket
  • Professional Auto Body Supplies
  • Matrix Systems Paint and Clear Coat

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Written July 29, 2009