Rocker panels are an essential part of Chevy Silverado vehicles that people often disregard. So much so that it’s pretty standard for these panels to get rusty and turn useless as time passes. However, allowing this to happen is a massive mistake by Silverado owners. In the worst-case scenario, it may end up leading to nasty injuries while driving.
Therefore, if you’re having issues with a rusty rocker panel, it’s better to take care of it quickly. But how much does the Chevy Silverado rocker panel replacement cost?
That’s the question I’ll be answering in this article. Additionally, I’ll discuss the different benefits of why it’s essential to have healthy rocker panels.
If you think you can get the job done yourself, there’s also a section with guidelines to replace the rocker panels yourself.
So, as you can see, there’s a lot to cover. So, without anything else to add, let’s start!
- 1 What is a Rocker Panel & Why Replace It?
- 2 Chevy Silverado Rocker Panel Replacement – How Much Is It?
- 3 How to Replace Chevy Silverado Rocker Panel
- 4 Rocker Panel Maintenance Tips
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Conclusion
What is a Rocker Panel & Why Replace It?
Designed as stamped pieces made with solid metal, the rocker panel is a part of the car’s structural body. Though they may look non-important and straightforward, rocker panels are essential.
They run on the side of the vehicle, connecting wheel wells from the front to the rear side. Besides the roof supports, rocker panels are the only other thing that connects the front with the car’s back.
As a result, you could say that rocker panels hold the back and front of the car to keep them from coming apart.
Due to its location, most people take the rocker panel for granted. In fact, most step over it while getting inside their vehicles. Combined with its location close to the ground, this creates the perfect conditions for rust. If that happens, replacing it may be the only solution.
Benefits of Rocker Panels
But why should you replace it? I hear you ask. To answer that question, here’s a list of reasons why the rocker panel is of such importance.
- More Rigidity
By keeping the front and rear sides connected, the rocker panel adds rigidity to the car. This contributes to better handling and overall improved maneuverability.
- Cabin Protection
In today’s cars, the called crumple zones are super important. These are areas of the car that help absorb the impact in the unwanted scenario of an accident.
Rocker panels do that. They keep the cabin intact, preventing it from deforming if there’s ever a crash. By doing this, the passengers have better chances of coming out in perfect conditions.
- Easy Access
And, of course, the rocker panels also work as steps for drivers and passengers. This is more important in large trucks or jeeps which seats are at a considerable height from the ground. Again, adults, children, and pets benefit from this.
Chevy Silverado Rocker Panel Replacement – How Much Is It?
Before talking about costs, it’s important to clarify that there are two types of rocker panels. Those are the slip-on and the full rocker panels. The biggest difference between them is their installation methods and price, so let’s talk about that.
Slip-On Rocker Panels
These are the most affordable pick out of the two. Of course, it also helps that these are available for many types of trucks and jeeps, offering variety at an accessible price.
For their installation, there are two options with the slip-on rocker panels. You can install them either as a complete replacement or in front of old panels. If this is how you want to proceed, it’d still be a good decision to remove the worst parts of the old rocker panel.
The price of slip-on rocker panels varies depending on several factors. For instance, you have to consider the model of the vehicle and the seller. Nonetheless, a solid cost range would be $175 and $250.
Full Rocker Panels
As opposed to slip-on, these rocker panels work as a complete replacement for old ones. Hence the name.
This type of panel is a bit more expensive. That’s because more materials are necessary for its construction. Expect to pay around $250-$350 for these.
With the rocker panel in hand, now the next thing to consider is the installation itself. You can either go to a professional or do it yourself. Since this is a topic about costs, here’s how much it’d cost to hire an expert for the job.
Replacing the rocker panel professionally in a repair shop is between $1,000 and $4,000.
Naturally, the overall cost could be a little higher than that as well. This depends on whether the job needs more work to get a neat and clean installation. Therefore, the whole process can also include other things like removing the truck doors.
But what if you do it all by yourself? Well, that would certainly lower the costs.
In this case, all you have to buy is the rocker panel. Afterward, you can get to work on the replacement using only your tools and investing nothing but time.
How to Replace Chevy Silverado Rocker Panel
Alright. So, you got your brand-new rocker panel, the tools, and the time. Excellent. Now, it’s time to get to work and replace that old, rusty, and worn-down rocker panel with a new one. Make sure to follow the following steps thoroughly to make the process as smooth and as easy as possible.
This is how to replace Chevy truck rocker panels with your own hands.
First, make sure you’re getting your measurements right. To do this, hold the replacement rocker panel and put it up to the Silverado to get the size. After that, use a permanent marker to mark the truck along the edges for the new rocker panel.
Cutting the Marker Line
The next step involves using power tools, so prepare accordingly. Wear leather gloves and any protection you see fit. Then, get your grinder and the cutoff wheel. These will help you cut along the line of the marker. Work on every area, including top, bottom, and sides. Everything previously marked must come off.
Clamping the Rocker Panel
With your welding mask and gloves on, proceed with the next step. Start clamping the replacement rocker panel with body clamps. Since the panel is lightweight, there’s no need to use too many clamps.
Welding the Panel to the Truck
Next, continue by welding along the panel’s edges in a process that will attach the panel to the truck’s surface. Tack welds will be necessary for this step. Do one at a time, and make sure there’s enough space between the welds until completion.
Add as many tack welds as needed to make the edge feel sturdy and solid.
Grinding the Welds
For this step, grind the welds down. Do it until they lay flat with the rocker panel’s surface. Be careful while doing this. Otherwise, excessively grinding the welds could create cracks or holes on the panel later on.
Grab a squeegee, and use it to apply body filler over the welded line. The purpose of this is to create a small coating. Let it dry for about an hour, and use 180 grit sandpaper for sanding it afterward. Do it until the rocker panel’s seam feels smooth.
Here, you’ll have to do a bit more sanding. This time using 220-grip sandpaper. Sand all of the seam area and the rocker panel with this tool. Smoothening the surface will prepare it for the paint.
Get primer, and apply it over the seam and the panel. Hold the can about six or eight inches away from the car’s surface while doing it. Allow it to dry for about half an hour. Next, apply three coats of paint over the surface.
Between each coat, wait five minutes. Then, let it rest four or six hours to get it ready.
And that’s it! Now, your Chevy Silverado has a brand new rocker panel. Even better, it wasn’t even necessary to spend a ton of money on professional assistance.
Rocker Panel Maintenance Tips
But you know what’s better than spending money on parts? Saving that money because your rocker panels are in perfect shape! And there are several ways to accomplish that. With preventive maintenance, rusted rocker panels won’t be of any concern.
Before looking for a Chevy Silverado rocker panel replacement, put these maintenance tips into practice.
- Do regular cleaning: Dirt and road tar get stored inside the rocker panels, which leads to issues in the long run. So clean them every now and then to avoid this issue. If you’re having doubts about what to use to clean the rocker panels, go with WD-40. This cleaner gets rid of tar while leaving the paint intact.
- Use any power tool you’ve got: This includes pressure washers, foam blasters, and more. These will help you clean the rocker panels efficiently.
- Add protective layers: After cleaning, using products to cover the rocker panel with protection is a good idea. As an example, you can go with wax or ceramic layers. These will prevent rust from becoming a problem. Applying either of those products is easy, quick, and hassle-free.
- Consider using Chevy Silverado rocker panel covers: This is another fantastic method to keep the rocker panels protected anywhere you go. In fact, off-road vehicles that regularly deal with mud can benefit a lot from covers.
As long as you put these tips into practice, your rocker panels should look fantastic. Plus, there won’t be any need to think about potential replacements because rust simply won’t be an issue. Make the time and make sure the cleaning covers the whole rocker panels thoroughly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to drive without rocker panels?
Yes, it is possible. But it’s also dangerous. After learning about the different purposes of the rocker panel, its importance is pretty clear.
Since it’s a structural part of the car, the consequences of not having it can lead to awful scenarios. All forces and loads would fall on the doors and roof entirely. In the worst case, the vehicle could fold in half as you drive.
Why do rocker panels rust?
Rust can happen for a lot of reasons, more so when it comes to rocker panels. While driving, the rocker panels catch a ton of debris that consistently chips the paint away.
Additionally, this particular part of the car deals with chemicals and corrosive elements regularly. Eventually, all of these elements add up and end up rusting the rocker panels.
Is it worth replacing rocker panels?
This is when it gets tricky. See, if there’s one rocker panel damaged by rust, replacing it would be worth it. However, if both rocker panels have severe rust issues, you may want to consider it twice. That’s a lot of money you’d have to pay to get it repaired and painted.
Will a car with rusted rocker panels pass inspections?
Legally, the only method to pass inspections safely is to repair rusted rocker panels. Inspection stations are not fond of passing vehicles with damaged rocker panels.
Mainly because they compromise the vehicle’s integrity. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, getting the rocker panels fixed is a must.
Which one to buy between slip-on vs. full rocker panels?
Apart from the price, the slip-on rocker panel is the most versatile one. With two installation methods, you can choose exactly how to set it up. Plus, the installation is super easy, as you could use tape.
Alternatively, the full rocker panel is the safest and most secure choice. Of course, it’s up to you to decide which one works best for you.
Rocker panels are more than just a fancy feature on the truck. Their importance and the many benefits they offer make them essential vehicle parts. Thus, keeping them in excellent shape and taking good care of them is a must. Now that you know the Chevy Silverado rocker panel replacement cost, you’re ready to take on the challenge.