Replacing Body Panels on Range Rovers 

Range Rover body damage
Introduction
Rear Quarter (Wing) Panels
Doors
Decker and Front Wing Panels
Roof and Inner Body Panels
P38 and L322 Range Rovers

Photo at right: Granville Pool's Range Rover on the Rubicon trail, where the damage began with the left rear wing (quarter panel) and door.


Introduction
One of the charms of the Classic Range Rover is the fact that all the outer body panels are just bolted or riveted on and can easily be replaced, or removed for ease of repair. The aluminum outer panels are secured to a steel body frame which in turn is attached to the chassis via flexible rubber mounts.

I once removed the rear quarter panel on my Classic repair a dent, and the process was amazingly easy. Granville Pool has had far greater experience in panel removal and replacement; he totally "reskinned" his 1992 Range Rover County (except for the roof) after a damaging trip over the Rubicon Trail (below).

Ziggy at Slick Rock Notch

Rubicon trail

Granville's Range Rover "Ziggy" with its original white body.

Tagging along with these guys on the Rubicon was what uined Ziggy's outer body panels and prompted a "change of clothes"


Granville has kindly supplied the commentary below to explain the process and make it easier for the rest of us. He notes that it is helpful to have the official shop manual handy to give you views of how some of the parts connect.  Removal of some of the parts from earlier Range Rover bodies will differ slightly due to the exposed bonnet hinges and front door hinges. The early rear door hinges are also different and bolt on in a slightly different position from the later (stamped) hinges. Why the door hinge position was moved slightly is hard to say. 

While most of the panels simply unbolt or unscrew, the potentially tricky bits are detailed below.


Rear Quarter (Wing) Panels
The rear corner piece is attached to the rear quarter panel (rear wing panel) so it is easiest to takethese off as one piece.  The corner piece is pop-riveted to the tailgate jamb so you'll have to drill out those rivets and should pop-rivet the replacement panel in its place. (I took a bit of a shortcut here and secured the panel back in place with sheetmetal screws).  The top bolts or screws of the quarter panel you must remove from inside the vehicle, under the side shelf.  Neither Granville nor I found it necessary to remove the shelf.  The front-most of these screws is rather difficult to reach so it's good to have a magnetic tool or some such to help catch it.  If you want better access you can remove the housing first from the rear seat-back latches.

Donor Vehicle

Proceeding

Donor vehicle for Granny's reskinning job. In this photo, the rivets are being drilled out of the rear quarter panel fixings.

Ziggy with new LR door in place; work in progress removing the inside bolts securing the quarter (wing) panel.


Removal of the rear wing panel from the fuel filler assembly is a dance of working from both the inside and outside.  The door of course has to be open (you can find somewhere on the web how to open it from behind, for the non-running parts vehicle). The rubber grommet around the filler on the outside you can prise loose and slip off.  Granny's is a '92 and he got his wing panel off a similar model. (Note the filler is smaller and up higher on the side of the panel than on pre-91 models).  You have to disconnect the filler-door lock actuator from the back side of the filler, from inside the vehicle.



Doors
Before removing complete doors, you have to remove the inside door panels and disconnect the wiring inside the door, as you can't reach into the jambs well enough to disconnect it there. The inner door trim can easily be pryed off -- I did it on my Classic to access the speaker wiring. Detrails on how to remove the interior door trim panel without damaging it are on this page. Some information on this procedure is described for the 4.0/4.6 on the pages about replacing and adjusting the electric door locks).  Make sure you keep track of all the attachment parts and shims, for later adjustment of the replacement doors.  The doors are much heavier than you'd suppose, mainly because of the glass, so be careful, especially with the front doors, that you don't hurt yourself or damage the doors when you are pulling them off.  An assistant may not be absolutely necessary but would be very handy.
 

Cowl (Decker) and Front Wing Panels
The cowl or decker panel -- the panel just in front of the windshield -- is attached to the wings with bolts that are very hard to reach, in the slot that you can see when the bonnet or door is open, that runs between the two. So, remove the bonnet (hood) before trying to remove the front wings or the cowl (decker panel) Again, make sure that you keep track of all the attachment parts and shims. The ones near the bonnet end are not too bad but the ones toward the door can be very tricky, more so on some years than on others.  You may find it a huge help to have an air-powered ratchet wrench for this but a GearWrench or similar ratcheting box-end spanner (either with a small offset or a flex joint) will probably work OK too (the GearWrench brand have a very finely geared ratcheting mechanism, allowing very small movements to yield results).  If the rust on your RR is so bad that you can't get those bolts loose, you can reach in, though the slot between the decker panel and wing panel, with a slim cut-off wheel.  Be very careful if you have to use this tool (or a Sawzall) that you don't damage the panel work or start a fire (keep water handy).

The rest of removing the front wings should be pretty obvious.  Removal of the decker panel requires that you first remove the windscreen wipers and the tubes from the washer jets, then somehow hold down the bonnet hinges.  Granny did it by having someone stand on top of them, while leaning against the roof.

Patchwork Quilt Range Rover

Completed Job

Front and rear wings have now been replaced. Doing the front wings would have been easier with the hood removed.

Completed job -- Ziggy in her new clothes! The white roof was retained for tropical sun reflection.



Roof and Inner Body Panels
As you can see from the final photo of Ziggy in her new "skin" (above right), Granville did not change his roof panel but understands that it's pretty easy.
When you've removed all the outer panels removal of the inner ones (if necessary due to corrosion or damage) should be obvious enough.

P38 and L322 Range Rovers
Later models of Range Rovers used stronger body designs that unfortunately sacrificed some of the easy shade tree repair capabilities of the Classic.

 

On the P38 models, the front fenders (wings) are still separate bolt-on parts that are just as easy to remove as on the Classic. The bolts that hold them on can be readily seen and accessed when you open the bonnet (hood). The door and lower tailgate outer panels are also aluminum. The official shop manual goes into considerable detail on how to remove all the other panels, as well as the inner ones; the procedures involve drilling or punching out spot welds, separating panels with a cold chisel and cutting some joints with an air saw.

The RR III/L322 Range Rover actually has more aluminum panels than the P38 -- even though it uses a "monocoque construction technique. The front fender/wing panels, hood/bonnet and front and rear door outer panels are all aluminum. The shop manual (RAVE CD) gives full details on how to remove not only the outer body panels but even how to disassemble the various underlying "frame" components. For the welded steel panels and structural components, the procedures involve drilling or punching out spot welds, separating panels with a cold chisel and some cutting with an air saw or sawzall. A spot welder is needed for attaching the new panels and components.

The Range Rover Sport uses a slightly different structure than the others, being based on the integral frame construction method used in the Discovery 3/LR3.

 


 

 

 

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Page revised February 2, 2012