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Old 09-11-2014, 01:10 PM   #1
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Replacing rusted rocker panels

I have a 2002 Focus LX 4-door with the infamous rusted-out rocker panels.

A solution involving welding is an option.

But I'm having a hard time finding good information. The factory service manual that I have from the library does not address the components, construction or repair of the rockers. So I'm not sure what my options are. I want to do something like a proper repair.

Jdetzel in comment #5 at http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=300112 says:
They are a very important structural member. They are designed to provide structural rigidity and more important crash protection.
They are a 3-piece member with on outer panel, an inner reinforcement and an inner panel. Cosmetic damage on the outer can sometimes be straightened,improper repair will effect the structural integrity of the vehicle.

I think removing the outer rocker and not replacing per manufacturers instruction would not be a good idea.
When I search for replacement rockers, I find a few $350-$450 items like http://www.ebay.com/itm/BRAND-NEW-OE...db5f97&vxp=mtr
or
P/N 10128 for ~ $450 in this pic from fordparts.com:
http://www.fordparts.com/Commerce/Re...=YS4Z5410128AA

Then there are $40-60 items like http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Focus-R...f9f7d0&vxp=mtr

That brings me to another difficulty. The $40 eBay item I just linked to has some of the better pics I've seen, but I'm still having difficulty figuring out what a replacement rocker covers. This is of interest especially in the back wheel well where it joins to the rocker. Where the well liner was fastened at the rocker, that metal has rusted away. And I'm wondering if that rusted-away metal is part of the rocker (which a replacement would happily provide).

Can anyone provide or point me to good, detailed information?



Last edited by JD_Hupp; 09-11-2014 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 09-11-2014, 04:01 PM   #2
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I had my passenger side rocker repaired by a friend, and he formed it himself using sheet metal and a lot of fiberglass mud. Personally, having seen the inside of the rockers, I'm skeptical of the suggestion that they add structural integrity to the vehicle. One of the metal layers was so thin it disintegrated. Regardless of what route you take, the rocker must be cut out, a new one welded in, and then a good deal of body work done to hide the seams.

If you want to see something scary, inspect the metal member beneath the rear bumper cover. I don't know about yours, but if I get rear ended that steel will be atomized.

Toby
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Old 09-11-2014, 04:07 PM   #3
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I had rust holes in my 03 ZX3 rockers. I looked at all the options. I'm not saying what I did is optimal, but it worked and it will get me through inspection and last at least a couple of years.

I cut out all the rust with nippers. I ground down the remaining metal with a flap disc on an angle grinder. I treated the metal with POR15 starter kit (get an extra chip brush, because you need to apply two coats and the kit only comes with one).

Finally, I used Aluminum flashing material and pop rivets to cover the holes and then sprayed black undercoating over the aluminum to match the black color of the POR15.

I didn't bother to paint over to try and match the rest of the car, silver in my case.

I haven't found any safety issue with the rust holes in the rockers. Here in Vermont they don't want rust holes, but the reason is they don't want a) people snagging clothing on sharp metal as they walk by a car, or b) exhaust fumes to have any way to get into the cabin.

Good to go now.
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Old 09-11-2014, 08:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulK1970 View Post
I had rust holes in my 03 ZX3 rockers. I looked at all the options. I'm not saying what I did is optimal, but it worked and it will get me through inspection and last at least a couple of years.

I cut out all the rust with nippers. I ground down the remaining metal with a flap disc on an angle grinder. I treated the metal with POR15 starter kit (get an extra chip brush, because you need to apply two coats and the kit only comes with one).

Finally, I used Aluminum flashing material and pop rivets to cover the holes and then sprayed black undercoating over the aluminum to match the black color of the POR15.
Glad to hear it's working for you.

But my brother worked hard on a repair (not replacement) of the rockers of his daughter's Focus, and they had started rusting again in 3 months.

I don't know what he did or if he did something with POR15 or equivalent, but I do know that he is pretty good with cars.

In various threads here, I have seen some stories like yours, and some like my brothers.

So I want an extra layer of assurance, and that's why I'm much more interested in a well-done replacement.
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:15 PM   #5
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When I watched videos of rocker panel replacement there were like 30 welds to drill out on each rocker and then you have to drill matching holes in the new ones and weld at these points. It looked like a big job.

I'm happy with the results from the POR15. It is not the quickest and easiest product to apply, several stages, need gloves and a respirator. But, no rust is coming through any of the coated areas. The only part I'm worried about is where I drilled for pop rivets. Those 1/8 " holes exposed bare metal and if it starts rusting again I'm sure it will be from those holes. That's why I wanted them coated with the undercoating.

It won't last forever, and I wasn't doing a restoration job or anything, but I'm satisfied with the results. Much better than using spray foam insulation or gobs of Bondo.

Many different ways to approach the rocker issue I'm sure. Good luck, just offering what worked pretty well for me.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:05 PM   #6
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I'm still struggling for good information, but I did find out that the only OEM replacement is the whole rocker assembly, a structural component costing around $400-something.

That leaves less-expensive aftermarket solutions in the $40-150 range. Most of these are to replace the non-structural outer panel. Some are skins that fit over the cleaned up remains of the original and are fastened by welding, screws or rivets. Others require removing the original panel before the replacement is installed by welding.

But so far I have not found any local sources, and since these are an over-sized item I want to get it right the first go-round and not have to ship something back.

So now I'm looking specifically for feedback about quality and fit from guys who have bought these from this source or that.
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:28 PM   #7
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Dicks Auto Parts www.dicksautoparts.com was within driving distance and offered two replacement panels, both supplied by LKQ. There was a $49 skin that did not run anywhere near the full length of the original rocker. There was also a $65 replacement that ran the full length (which we chose), but the fit was only so-so: it needed some further cutting and bending, and then we welded it on over the cleaned up remains of the original outer panel. But it was good thick steel.

I would have liked to have seen a locally supplied panel by Klokkerholm. The low-detail online pics at Klokkerholm.com look good, and I saw a few posts that the fit was good. But return shipping would have made it a bad deal if that were not true.
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Old 10-02-2014, 02:28 PM   #8
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Tx for the update, additional info. will help the next member searching for this.
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Old 10-02-2014, 03:26 PM   #9
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It's nice to see all the Klokkerholm panels that are available. In a few years I'll definitely be needing the wheel arches.

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Old 08-12-2019, 10:39 AM   #10
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Has anyone messed around using the rockauto rocker panels replacements? thats the route im thinking of using
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