Stepping into or out of your truck, you might encounter this metal structure to step onto. You step on it below the door to hop into the truck. You might have been steeping on the truck rocker panels without knowing what they are. If you are still wondering what are truck rockers… They are the metal structure beneath the entry where you place your leg to climb the truck.
Truck rockers or rocker panels are a truck’s structural reinforcement. It prevents the truck cabin from distortion during a crash or collision. Truck rockers are:
- The truck’s structural strength
- It prevents the vehicle from sagging in the middle
- An essential aspect of a vehicle’s safety
Truck rockers are probably the most vulnerable part of a vehicle. They take a massive beating from weather elements during daily use. They are one of the most neglected areas of a car.
A rocker panel is a steel structure along the sides of a vehicle. It goes between the rear and front wheel openings below the doors. The rocker panel is an essential part of a vehicle that serves as frame support and a connector for the front and rear ends of the car.
Rocker panels on some vehicles with a unibody framework give extra support to keep the vehicle from sagging in the middle. While in more recent cars, rocker panels help create a robust cabin area that will not deform during a collision. Rocker panels play a significant role in a vehicle’s safety.
It is easy to ignore the location of a rocker panel because it is in the lower area of the car body. This location makes cleaning it difficult, especially when there are plastics or metal coverings over the panel.
Rocker panels are prevalent in newer vehicles. The older ones have a body-on-frame structure. The rigidity and structural purpose of the rocker panel makes it essential to take care of, as rust, mud, grim, and other weathering casualties affect its durability.
Rocker Panel Covers
Although a truck is built to be rigid and tough to withstand rough terrains, the rocker panel is not as rigid as the vehicle itself. It is susceptible to corrosion, rust, and damage from rough roads due to its low-level location. Rocker panel covers protect against obstacles like small stones, shrub branches, mud, sand, water, and road salt. These obstacles will rust or corrode the panel when they come in contact.
Rocker panel covers can also help hide minor defects in the panel. It makes the truck look neater and clean to the eye. Rocker panel covers come in a plastic form. It is easy to cover and remove for cleaning. Using a rocker panel cover is an excellent move if you want your rocker panel to last long.
Plastic Rocker Panel Covers
Plastic rocker panel covers are specially designed to protect the metal rocker panel from weathering elements and rust factors. The plastic cover lies over the metal panels in an array of screws and glue. It completely covers the rocker panel bottom and top.
Plastic rocker panel covers will give a rocker panel some extra years of protection from elements like water, mud, scratches from shrub branches, and water. The corrosion rate is significantly reduced without these elements directly hitting the panel metal.
You can fix a plastic rocker cover yourself relatively easily. But, if you are not confident about how to do it, it’s best to get a mechanic to fix it. We advise the use of plastic rocker panels to protect the panel metal. A good rocker panel makes for a strong car frame.
Stick On Fake Door Panels
Stick on fake door panels are stickers or decals that protect a car’s door against scratches and dirt. They are of different colors, materials, and designs and are easy to apply over the door panel.
One can customize a stick on a fake door panel to take any color or spell out any word. It is excellent for company branding and gives a car a good facelift. Using stick-on fake door panels can prevent corrosion and rust of door panels.
Slip On Rocker Panels
Rocker panels experience severe beating daily from vehicle use. As an essential part of the car, it must be kept rust-free and in good form throughout the vehicle’s life span. Thus the use of slip-on rocker panels.
A slip-on rocker panel is a form of rocker replacement that goes over the existing rocker in a car. It is not a total replacement. It only covers up the current panel. How good a slip-on rocker panel is will depend on its ability to install correctly.
Installing a slip-on rocker panel will result in the rocker panels twisting and cracking with road elements. The slip-on rocker panel is easier to install because it uses adhesives (speaking of, you can learn more about adhesives in our guide on how to remove bumper stickers) and fasteners for attachment.
The primary disadvantage to slip-on rocker panels is the capacity of the fasteners, rivets, and screws to come to lose in rough conditions. The use of bolts might also make for a rugged look.
Rocker Panel Replacement
Because of the hidden and low position of the rocker panel in a car, it is easy for the metal to corrode, rust, or wear out. The location at the car bottom makes it difficult to care for it properly. When a rocker panel starts to rust, it becomes weak and not road worthy. Hence a replacement is necessary.
The best way to repair a rusting rocker panel is to replace it. Replacement can be by welding on a new panel or using fasteners and adhesive to fix a new rocker panel. Rust in rocker panels always occurs from the insides of the metal board to the surface. This rust pattern makes early detection challenging.
There are two rocker replacement types to choose from according to the extent of damage on the existing rocker panel. They include:
What Are Truck Rockers, Panel Replacement: #1. Welded Rocker Panels
Welded rocker panels are best when there is a need for the total replacement of a rocker panel. Severe damage due to collision or unsalvageable rust can be the reason for a full panel replacement. This procedure includes welding and removal of the car due during replacement. It is best to use a mechanic for this replacement type.
What Are Truck Rockers, Panel Replacement: #2. Slip On Rocker Panels
Slip-on rocker panels work great for rocker panels with no disfiguration, only rust. A slip-on rocker is the perfect replacement plan if rust exists along the edges. This replacement type does not need welding. It uses rivets, fasteners, and glue to hold the panel to the existing one, and it is fast and requires no cutting process.
It is essential to replace worn-out rocker panels as the extra support frame for the car. Bad or unsteady rocker panels make for a weak car. This weakness is dangerous for off-road driving or during an accident/collision.
Rocker Panel Replacement Cost
Replacement of the rocker panel is a determinant of several factors. These factors include the quality of the rocker panel, the car model, and the labor cost. Due to the intricate method of replacing a rocker pane, it is necessary to find a professional. Replacement involves the removal of the vehicle’s door.
Rocker panel replacement has a total average cost of $1000-$4000. This cost includes panel parts and labor costs, and labor will consist of the removal of doors and after-installation polishing. Panel parts alone cost about $50-$250. Replacing a rocker panel is time-consuming and exerting.
Rust On Rockers
Rust on rockers is the most significant risk to rocker panels. The parts are prone to rust due to their proximity to the ground. The lower parts of a truck take on debris and hits from bumps. The rocks and branch debris will damage and peel off the paint on the panel, making them susceptible to rust.
Off-road experience makes for rusty panels due to paint chipping. Numerous road chemicals like road salt and de-icers can contribute to rust damage in a rocker panel. It is easy to neglect a truck rocker panel while washing due to its location, leading to the accumulation of dirt. Dirt and moisture are perfect for rust.
Rusted rocker panels reduce the crashworthiness of a vehicle. A car with a rusted rocker will not pass safety ratings because the strength of the vehicle has been reduced by rust. Rust makes the cabin of a car less resilient during a crash. They also permit pollution from the exhaust to penetrate the car cabin.
Using a factory jack or winch with a rusted rocker panel is impossible. The rust will crash or disfigure under the weight of a jack or winch. It is essential to fix any sign of rust as soon as possible to avoid it spreading. Repairing rust in rocker panels is done by replacing the panel. You can use aftermarket rocker panels for an easy fix.
It is crucial always to inspect the rocker panels regularly. Clean all grime accumulating inside the panels. Where there are any signs of rust on the rocker panel, clean and dry the area, scrub it to remove the rust particles, and apply a rust inhibitor.
Rocker Panel Repair
Once a rocker panel has been damaged, it is almost impossible to repair. Instead, you have to replace the damaged panel areas. You can fill the holes and scrape out initial rust signs to maintain the appearance, but a damaged panel requires replacement, not repair, to function efficiently.
This process is time-consuming and rigorous. It is not easy for someone without good mechanical knowledge of cars. Using a rocker panel repair kit is best before you do more damage than before. Here are the steps to follow in other to repair/replace a rocker panel:
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 1
Unscrew the running board bolts and remove the board supports. Disconnect all electrical connectors and remove the car door and hinges. Using a trim take off any plastic door panel and edges.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 2
Using the new panel, line it up and mark a measure marker to determine where to cut the old rocker panel from.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 3
Using the line marker as a reference, cut off the rusted area of the old panel. Ensure not to cut father than the mark to avoid the replacement not fitting. You can cut with a grinder or cut-off wheel.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 4
Drill the panels to loosen their hold. You can put a hammer and a chisel to knock and pry it looser. Continue till the rust panel is bent off of its position.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 5
Put the new panel into the cut area and ensure it fits. Then trim off the old rocker panel to fit correctly onto the new one. If there are bits of rust area, treat them properly with rust inhibitors before replacing them with the new rocker panel.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 6
Trim and prep the mating surface with an acetone cleaner. Abrase and treat any sign of rust left, and apply primer on the mating metal surface.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 7
Prepare the new rocker panel by grinding and drilling spot weld holes using drill bits. Drill for about one and a half inches, not necessarily in the original holes. Use drill bits the size of the bolts, and clean the holes with a grinder.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 8
After drilling and grinding, align the new rocker panel and use locking pliers to secure it.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 9
Weld the rocker panel in place. Then, weld in small bouts and not in a straight line. Weld around the bottom and grind the welding points gently to smoothen them to an advanced level.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 10
Mix a body filler and apply it to the new rocker panel surface, but apply fast to finish before hardening. Apply inside the welds to seal the metal.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 11
With a sheet covering the door to prevent dust, sand the body filler thoroughly in a cross-motion. Sand before the filler gets too difficult to sand. Coat with another filler and sand to finish.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 12
After sanding, cover with a plastic sheet and allow to harden. After hardening, sand to smooth finishing, clean and dry with a sponge and water.
What Are Truck Rockers, Replacement Process: Step 13
Finally, apply primer and paint the rocker panels before refixing the doors and floorboard back.
Chrome Rocker Panel
Chrome rocker panels are made from stainless steel and have a mirror-like finishing look. They are excellent protection against scratches by stones or branches. Chrome rocker panels cover up imperfections like rust and chips.
They are many brands of chrome rocker panels, but they all use acrylic adhesive for bond and are stainless steel in nature. Some chrome rocker panel brands have options for customization of the panels or trims. They are beautiful and protective all in one.
Cab Corners And Rocker Panels
Cab corners and rocker panels are made of alloy metals or stainless steel. The cab corners are at the back of the passenger cabin, separating the cab from the truck bed. Cab corners often have drain holes that remove any water from the vehicle.
The repair or replacement process for cab corners is the same for rocker panels because they suffer the same fate. They are susceptible to collision, rust, and road debris damage. Most car owners prefer to replace both components simultaneously to save cost and match the paintwork.
Replacement of cab corners requires a massive workforce as it involves the disassembling of the truck, stripping and losing of nuts and bolts, welding, seal replacement, priming, and painting. Sometimes replacement might include the repair of glass and electrical wire connections.
The elaborate work in repairing or replacing a cab corner makes the replacement cost heavy. It costs an average of $1000 to $4000 to replace a cab corner. Labor cost is the reason for the severe billing rate because the parts alone cost about $100-$250.
Other factors that can affect the replacement cost are the car model and the quality of materials. Most cars can go a lifetime without needing a cab corner replacement with good maintenance.
Repair Rusted Rocker Panel
Repairing rusted rocker panels can only work if the rust is still very early. But, if the rust has eaten away at the metal extensively, there is no choice but to replace the rocker panel. Repairing rusted rocker panels includes:
- Scrapping the rust away
- Treating the metal with a rust inhibitor
- Priming the metal
Rust can cause holes in rocker panels. Filling these holes is possible. But bear in mind that filling the gap will only give the rocker panel a more aesthetic look but will not give it back the strength it lost. Filling the rust hole involves:
- Using styrofoam to fill up the hole
- Trimming the styrofoam remnants after drying
- Sanding to smoothen
Whatever form of repairs you choose on a rocker panel can only be for some time. Eventually, a rocker panel with some rust will ultimately get eaten away if there is no replacement. You can do the repairs yourself as they do not require excellent knowledge. But to be safe, it’s ideal to rely on a mechanic for the job.
FAQs On What Are Truck Rockers
What Is A Rocker Panel
A rocker panel is an essential steel-made component between a vehicle’s front and rear wheel opening that provides roof support and acts as a connector to the front and rear of a car. The rocker panel is necessary to hold the car’s middle framework from sagging.
What Are Rockers On A Truck
Rockers on a truck are the panels under the truck door. It covers the truck slits from road damage and is a foothold while climbing the car. Rockers on a truck are structure reinforcements against the truck’s middle sagging. They prevent the truck cabin from deformation during a collision.
How To Fix Rusted Rocker Panels
You can fix a rusted rocker panel by scrapping the rust away and treating the metal with a rust prevention chemical. However, a rocker panel with lots of rust or that has been eaten away by rust will require replacement, not fixing. The rocker panel gives strength to the car structure and always needs to have that strength at a hundred percent.
How To Replace A Rocker Panel
You can replace a rocker panel by following these steps: Purchase a new rocker panel, remove the vehicle doors, door components, and running board, mark the length of the damage on the rocker panel and cut the damaged panel out, pry out the damaged rocker panel and replace it with the new rocker panel, grind, and treat the newly fit rocker panel, prime the metal and weld the new rocker panel to the car metal framework, grind the weld marks to smoothen and apply body fillers, sand body fillers, apply primer, and repaint, fix the doors and running board back.
What Is A Rocker Panel On A Car
A rocker panel on a car is the part of the car below the passenger side compartment doorsills. It is on both sides of the vehicle and is an integral structure of the car’s worthiness.
How To Install Slip On Rocker Panels
To install slip-on rockers, follow the steps below: Remove the old rocker panels by cutting them with a cutter, scrap any lingering rust and treat the metal with a rust inhibitor, boreholes using a drill for the fasteners and bolts, fit the slip-on rockers on the truck and fasten them using adhesive glue and fasteners. Ensure that the rocker panel aligns appropriately.
How To Replace Rocker Panels Without Welding
Replacing rocker panels without welding involves the use of slip-on rocker panels. They are the only rocker panel type that does not involve welding. The steps for installing a slip-on rocker panel are above.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace Rocker Panels And Cab Corners
It costs an average of $2,000 to $4,000 to replace rocker panels and cab corners. This cost might differ due to factors like car model, quality of the materials, and labor cost. Labor cost is the most expensive cost in the replacement procedure. This expense is due to the intensive nature of the replacement.
How Long Does It Take To Replace Rocker Panels
A mechanic will take more than sixteen hours to replace a vehicle’s rocker panels. It is a long duress job involving removing the car doors and board, and each vehicle side could take eight hours.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace Rocker Panels
Rocker panel replacement will cost around $1,000-$4,000 depending on the rocker panel brand, car model, and labor cost. The parts alone range from $100-$250 only. The labor cost is the most significant expense during a replacement.
How To Install Rust Repair Panels
You can install rust repair panels by doing the following: Ensure all pieces of equipment are handy, remove the car seat to prevent heat damage, and mark the area to cut from the old rocker panel to dimension. Ensure there is space for fastening the rust repair panel. Repair any rust holes left after cutting and treat the metal for rust. Fit in the rust repair panels appropriately and weld them in place.
How To Install Patch Panels Without Welding
You can install patch panels without welding by using adhesive and fasteners. After cutting out the rusted rocker panel, treat it for rust, and fit in the patch panel. Use adhesive glue to hold it in place firmly and screw in the bolts and fasteners.
Can You Weld Rusted Metal
No, you cannot weld on rusted metal. Rusted metals are fragile and disintegrating. The weld should go on both the new metal and the existing one.
Are Rocker Panels Important
Having rocker panels is very important for a vehicle to pass the crashworthiness test. It is crucial to balance the car framework and maintain rigidity in the face of a collision or off-road experience.
Conclusion On What Are Truck Rockers
The truck rocker seems to be only helpful for climbing into the vehicle, but it has other vital uses for the entirety of the truck. It is a crucial part of making a truck tough and rigid. This article, “what are truck rockers,” shows why it should no longer be a neglected vehicle area.
Hence, it is vital to give your rocker panels a detailed inspection often. You will catch any signs of damage or rust early and fix them before they escalate. Rust on the outside means lots of rust on the inside and a sign that a replacement is due. Replacing the rocker panels will give your truck the structural strength it needs for road performance.