If the rocker panels in your truck are starting to rust, replacing them is the only way to fix the issue.
Unfortunately, this job is long and intensive, so you’ll normally pay a considerable amount for the work. That can be a steep cost, especially if your vehicle is old or if you’ve been in a car accident.
Here, the average cost of rocker panel replacement is anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000. Here, most of the cost is labor, with some body shops and mechanics taking over 16 hours to do the full job. The rocker panels themselves normally cost anywhere from $50-$150.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of rocker panel replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Rocker Panel Cost||Labor|
|Gerber Collision & Glass||$65-$1330||$95-$420|
How Much Does Rocker Panel Replacement Cost?*
In most cases, the largest cost in replacing rocker panels is the cost of labor. That’s because removing the old rockers and putting in new ones will take most mechanics or body shop technicians upwards of 10 hours per side.
On the other hand, you might get lucky and the work may take 4-8 hours instead.
In most cases, the largest determining factors are the make and model of your car and how bad the damage is.
We haven’t included labor in the following quotes because there is no way to predict whether the work will take 4 or 30+ hours for both sides without inspecting the damage.
In this case, you can almost always expect labor to range between $1,000 and $4,000 – for an average of about $2,500 in labor for the job.
|Vehicle||Rocker Panel Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (July 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.Please select a valid form
Rocker Panel Replacement Cost Factors
In almost every case, the largest factor in replacing the rocker panels in your car is the cost of labor.
The body shop you go to will dramatically affect the total cost of work. However, there are other factors to consider as well.
Type of Rocker Panel
There are two primary types of rocker panels: weld-on and slip-on. In some cases, slip-on panels may be called “bolt-on”.
Here, weld-on panels are cheaper to buy but also more expensive to put in. They’re ideal for jobs where the original rocker panel is so badly damaged that it should be completely removed.
Here, you have to completely cut the old panel out and weld the new one in place. Afterwards, you can follow up with cosmetic refinishing to restore your car.
Bolt-on panels are slipped over partially removed rocker panels. This means you can remove the damaged parts of the old panel, slip the new one in place, and then bolt or clamp it on.
This can cut the total work in half – meaning you save a considerable amount of money on the job.
Extent of Damage
The more damaged your rocker panel, the more work it will take to remove it. Here, you might have to remove a panel because it’s torn, folded, or completely rusted through.
Rust is especially common on late body pickups like the F150, where the rocker panel is constantly exposed to dirt, air, and moisture.
Corrosion also has to be completely cut out to stop it from spreading under a cover. So, even if you’re using a cover, you’ll still want to remove any rust or visible corrosion, so you’ll still have to cut the damaged parts out.
Cost of Labor
The national average rate for body shop repair is $63 per hour. That goes up to $98 for chains like Caliber and Gerber, where you’ll pay more per hour, but also have more in terms of national recognition and trust.
However, body shop work varies wildly based on location, the skill of the shop owner, and their professionalism. This means you might be quoted as low as $400 for the work if you go to a low-end body shop.
On the other hand, a high-end shop charging $98 per hour will generally cost you a minimum of about $1,500.
That’s also without considering extra costs like shop fees and lot fees, some of which are as high as $25 per day and 20% of the total work.Please select a valid form
3 Signs You Need a New Rocker Panel
It’s often the case that you can simply repair, sand, and remove dents from your rocker panel.
If your rocker panel is badly dented, you may be able to hammer it back into place, sand it down, and install a support. Here, the total work could be as little as $500.
On the other hand, there are many instances when you definitely want to replace the rocker panel.
1. It’s Rusted Through
Rusted rocker panels are extremely common, especially in older cars. Unfortunately, once your rocker panel starts to rust, it’s difficult to stop.
Sanding out light rust patches and applying rust inhibitor can help. However, if your vehicle is already rusted through, you’ll have to replace the panels.
That’s especially important if your rocker panels serve as structural support on getting into the car. However, rocker panels are part of your car’s structural frame. Leaving them weak increases the risk of issues in your car.
2. It’s a New Vehicle
If you’re driving a new vehicle, replacing the rocker panels may allow you to resale the vehicle at a much higher value than you would without replacing the panels.
That’s especially true if you’ve been in an accident and most of the repair work will be covered by insurance anyway.
3. Structural Damage Is Too Bad to Fix
If your rocker panels are dented or damaged, you can normally repair them with little issues. Here, rocker panel supports, and a good weld can do a world of good.
However, if the rocker panel is completely torn or punctured in several places, repairing them might not be an option. Normally it will be, but if there’s also rust or other structural damage, you might be forced to replace the panels.Please select a valid form
How Do You Replace a Rocker Panel? (10 Steps)
Replacing rocker panels requires that you have a welder and the ability to use it. If you don’t have the training, you cannot safely do the work.
In addition, replacing a rocker panel yourself means using an angle grinder to cut the old panels out. That can be difficult and dangerous work.
If you proceed, make sure you take significant precautions, that you’re comfortable handling an angle grinder, and that you can do the work in a ventilated space and with adequate hand and eye protection.
Things You’ll Need:
- Replacement rocker panels
- Rust inhibitor
- Angle grinder
- Wrench set
- MIG or TIG Welder + welding suppliers
- Welding mask
Replacing Your Rocker Panels
Before you get started, park your car on a flat and level space. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area with nothing flammable nearby.
Turn off the engine and then remove the key from the ignition. Then, unplug the battery from the negative terminal.
- Remove your car door on the affected side. Normally, this will mean taking off the inner door panel, unclipping the electronics, and then unbolting the hinges. Check the manual for your specific vehicle for exact instructions.
- Remove any floor paneling and fiberglass slip covers over the rocker panels. Normally you can achieve this by using a flat screwdriver to pry up the edges. In some cases, there will be clips or even screws on the underside of the vehicle. Take the time to inspect yours to ensure you don’t cause more damage.
- Assess where the rocker panel is attached to the unibody of the car. Here, it’s a good idea to look at you’re replacement rocker panels to make sure you’re getting the shape right.
- Use an angle grinder to cut the old rocker panel out. If you cut too far or unevenly, your new rocker panels won’t fit. Therefore, it’s extremely important to make sure you have good control of the grinder.
- Check the inner body of the rocker panel. If it’s not rusted through, you can leave it in place. If it is, you’ll have to replace that too. Cut it out or leave it as desired.
- Sand the remaining pieces and apply a rust inhibitor.
- Apply a weld primer to the area.
- Prepare the new rocker panel. If you’re installing a secondhand one, you may have to smooth the edges. Then, test fit it, sand it, and make sure it fits well. You might have to make several adjustments with a hammer. In some cars, you’ll have to remove other panels to safely weld.
- Spot weld the new body into place.
- Use a grinder to smooth out the welds.
From there, you can prime, smooth over, and paint your new rocker panel. You’ll likely want to have it professionally painted if you’re not using fiberglass panels over it.
If you still have questions about replacing your rocker panels, these answers should help.
Is replacing a rocker panel worth it?
In most cases, replacing a rocker panel will cost more than the value of the car. That’s because the total job can cost $4,000 or more for labor alone.
In almost every case, you’re facing at least a full day of labor from your mechanic or body shop technician and that can be pricey. If you don’t have insurance helping you, check the value of the car and the cost of getting a new one.
Replace or repair rocker panels?
It’s very often possible to simply repair your rocker panels. That’s especially true on modern cars, which normally have fiberglass facing over the rocker panels.
Here, you can normally replace the fiberglass covers relatively cheaply. You can then weld and reinforce the metal underneath without worrying about how it impacts the appearance of your car.
Are rocker panels important?
In some cars, the rocker panel is primarily aesthetic. In most, the rocker panel ensures the door doesn’t deform in case of an accident.
Therefore, driving with a bad rocker panel greatly increases the danger of an accident.
Replacing a rocker panel is a big job. Unfortunately, they very often start to rust in older trucks. By the time that happens, it may cost too much to warrant replacing. On the other hand, you might have damaged rocker panels after an accident. Here, you can expect the average cost of rocker panel replacement to be $2,500+. You can save yourself much of the cost by doing the work yourself, but you do need a welder and a good angle grinder to do the work.Please select a valid form