VW Beetle Fender Removal
Mid America Motorworks 1968-1973 Standard Beetle Front Fender LH 384690
Article used with Permission: www.vw-resource.com
Note: This procedure applies equally to both front and rear fenders. Apart from the electrical connections, the procedure for removal/replacement of the front and rear fenders is pretty much the same.
First, raise the front of the car and rest it securely on jack stands.
Remove the front wheels (the fender can be removed with the wheels on, but you'll have limited access to the fender bolts -- we recommend removing the wheels).
If you're removing the left front fender on a 1968 through 1973 model, unplug the horn wires and remove the horn. Don't hang the horn by the wires.
Remove the bumper and bumper brackets
First remove the headlights and turn signal lights and wrap the wiring up out of the way.
Remove the nut, washer and bolt that attach the fender to the running board.
Remove the bolts and nuts that attach the fender to the body.
Remove the fender, the beading, and the rubber spacer between the fender and the running board.
Note: The rubber bead has cutouts around the bolt holes (it doesn't have holes in it - just cut outs).
Inspect the rubber beading and the rubber spacer washers. If they are cracked, dried, or deteriorated, replace them.
Check the threaded holes in the captive nuts in the body and clean them up with a tap if necessary. Lubricate the bolt threads.
Note: Dave found that it was very easy to get to the bolts; the biggest problem, especially on the forward bolts, was the captive nut breaking loose before the bolt loosened, primarily because the body had been damaged in a past accident. Even liberal use of penetrating oil (e.g., Kroil) did not help with this problem. Dave found that EVERY ONE of the captive nuts broke loose! The fender had been replaced before.
Note: We suggest that you replace all of the bolts with captive nuts with new bolts, large washers on both sides, and nuts. This will result in a much better fender replacement.
Place the fender in position against the body without the beading and loosely install one bolt at the top to support the fender.
Now start the rest of the bolts. Tighten them just enough to hold the fender in position.
Note: Dave found that the holes for the fender bolts were in a mess all the way around on the left side. The holes were square and ragged from the "captive" nuts being pulled through. Dave secured the fenders in place with (from the trunk side) a bolt, large rectangular "washer," U-shaped shim to lap over the edges of the ragged body metal; then on the fender well side a shim, washer, and nut. To keep water out of the trunk, Dave followed Rob's suggestion and put a bead of soft (not-setting) silicone around each of the rectangular washers after he painted them to keep water out. Dave found that the bolt/washer/shim/body/shim/washer/nut/silicone arrangement made for a good connection.
Install a new rubber spacer washer between the fender and the running board, then install the bolt, washer and nut that attach the fender to the running board, but don't tighten yet.
Hold the new beading around the body immediately above the fender, and mark (with chalk) the locations of the bolts. Cut slots in the portion of the beading the extends down between the body and the fender to accommodate the bolts, then push the beading into place with your hand. Make sure the slots in the beading slip over the bolts. Be extremely careful about the fit of the beading as you gradually and evenly hand-tighten the fender bolts a few turns.
Gradually and evenly tighten all the bolts.
The remainder of installation is the reverse of removal.