Last Updated on August 1, 2023 by John Robinson
Welding is a process that requires a lot of concentration and attention to detail. While it can seem like a straightforward task to complete, you must follow several steps to ensure that you are welding correctly. When installing a new body panel, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting your car back on the road. But, before you start welding, there are essential things you should consider before welding car panels.
Select The Right Equipment
It is also vital that you consider whether or not you have enough knowledge about welding in general before starting this project. If you have no experience in welding, it would be better for you to learn from someone who does know how to weld before proceeding with this project. However, welding car panels is a complex process, and it requires great skill to do it properly. It is not an easy task, and you need to choose the right gear if you want to complete your welds correctly. So what welder do you need for this job? There are three options when it comes to this type of welding:
- MIG (metal inert gas): MIG welding is the most widely used type of welding in the world and is a process of joining metals by using an electric current and a consumable wire. In the process, an electric arc is created between two pieces of metal in order to melt them together.
- TIG (tungsten inert gas): TIG welding is used for joining metal sheets and rods with high melting points, such as stainless steel, titanium, etc. In addition, you can use it to join metals of different compositions where oxidation protection is needed.
- Stick/ arc: Stick welding is an alternative to other welding processes such as gas or electric welding. You can use it on thicker materials than the other processes. A stick welder uses a long rod and wire to create the arc that melts the metal pieces together while also using a hand-held torch to start the process. The rod and wire are then placed in contact with each other before moving on to another part of the workpiece.
While it can seem confusing with all of these options, MIG will be your best opinion for most auto repairs. This is beneficial as MIG also happens to be the most straightforward to learn and get adequate results. While TIG is often considered the best choice, it also tends to be far more complex than MIG welding as you have to think about which types of tungsten electrodes you will use for the types of body panels as well as a raft of other factors. If you are already pretty handy with a welder, then, by all means, choose the TIG, but if you are just starting, then a MIG will do you right.
What Makes MIG The Perfect Option?
For beginners, a MIG welder is typically the best opinion as it is easier to learn and tends to be more flexible. Furthermore, MIG welds are often more forgiving, and you can still come out on top even if you make mistakes. Moreover, most modern MIG welding machines are affordable and come with extra options like turning it into a stick welder at the flick of a switch. Despite the fact that most professionals prefer dedicated machines, as a novice making simple repairs, flexibility is more important. In addition, some MIGs will be able to weld thicker sheets of metal than the other processes mentioned earlier.
Understand When You Need To Weld
If you are reading this, the chances are high that you need to perform car panel repair. While this might seem like a straightforward task, you might be better served to take your car to be serviced by professionals if it is a larger area that needs repairing. Nonetheless, it will be up to you to determine if you are up to the task or not.
You Will Need More Than A Welder
Welding generally involves more equipment than the actual welder itself. Therefore, you will need to consider the following.
Car panels can be tricky beasts to weld correctly and generally require the use of different tools to get it perfect. Some of these include:
- Angle grinder: An angle grinder is a must for any kind of welding as it can help you cut large bits of metal and clear up the final weld to make it look smoother.
- Snips: Some car panel repairs require small pieces of metal as a patch. Snips are a brilliant bit of kit that will make your life easier in more ways than one.
- Welding clamps: Things move around, which is annoying and potentially dangerous. Locking welding clamps will become your best friend during this process.
- Body hammers: These are great for banging out dings and dents and getting your sheet metal to line up with everything else, (especially if the damage is the result of an accident).
- Sheet metal gauge: You will need a gauge to match up your metals and ensure that you can set your machine up correctly.
Because welding can be dangerous when things go wrong, safety should be your number one priority. Some safety gear you should acquire before starting includes:
- Welding helmet
- Safety boots
- Welding gloves
Prepare The Surfaces For Welding
In order to achieve a good-looking and long-lasting weld, your surface must be clean and free of debris. This means stripping the paint and removing any rust spots that could cause issues. If you are only repairing a small patch, you can simply clean that area, while in other cases, you may have to strip the entire panel to get it ready.
Always Reference The Charts
When the wrong settings are used, it’s possible to blow right through car panels because they’re usually very thin. A machine without an automatic setting feature will require that you refer to your charts. However, this is no big deal as it is good practice to get into this habit in the first place.
For the uninitiated, welding car panels can be tricky, but you should be fine if you have the right tools and know what process to use. Always remember to wear safety gear, and don’t be afraid to reference charts and manuals to ensure things go smoothly.