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Discussion Starter #1
REAR ARCH TRIMMING FOR WHEEL FITMENT
(If this topic has been covered in a similar thread, I didn't see it and you are welcome to lock this thread. Just direct me there first, please) :grin:

I had the opportunity this past weekend to finally cut my rear arches and get my Element ready for the next stage of it's life; moderately aggressive wheel fitment.

It occured to me that finding any article on 'how-to' or 'where to cut', or 'how much to cut', or 'what to look out' for, or even removal of the panels... was just about impossible.
Maybe I didn't search enough. Maybe I searched the wrong terms. Maybe, simply, there just weren't many people who have done it, and even less who have posted any information about it.
Regardless, I think this would be a good topic to cover for future Element owners, or even current owners who want to tackle this fairly simple, yet ambitious project, but don't have the push they need to pull the trigger.

I was able to locate a few refference pictures through emailing fellow Element owners through Facebook. It helped, but to help out the rest of this community, I think it would be beneficial to generate a thread dedicated to this topic. Something people can refference or direct their questions towards people who have cut their rear arches and have experience fitting aggressive wheels on their Elements.

Can we get a definitive list of "Arch cutters"?

If there is any interest, or you know someone who has done this, please direct them into this thread. Any pictures or tips would benefit this topic greatly.
I will post pictures of how I did mine later today.
 

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Just cut mine for the second time on the second Element this past week. There is various methods and opinions on how to cut. I will share my experience and others can chime in.
**Also there were several threads on here about "cutting rear lip" but if they made it through the upgrade and transitions who knows.

To remove the rear panels, you do not necessarily have to remove the entire thing. The upper clips are very hard to remove and put back on so I just took the screws and clips from the fender wheel well, removed the clip near the rear door and the bolt at the back tailgate. If you follow the line of the fender you should easily find what needs removed. There is a little pulling needed to pull it apart from the framing. Once loose I used a wood block behind the fender skin to prop it way from the metal fender.

I used a sawzall with a fine metal blade to cut mine and it went through nicely. It's important to NOT CUT the fender completely. Keep the lower front and back screws intact on the fender so there is something for the skin to stay attached with and hold it into place. How much you cut away is up to you but I cut the entire lip to the 90deg. bend.

You will notice that the plastic lip needs to be measured as to "how much" to cut away as it does not sit flush to the metal body. So before you cut the plastic fender, do a dry fitment and mark what needs to be cut. I made this mistake the first time and had a gap. It is not entirely noticeable, but to the perfectionist in us all will bug you that it is there.
**Another note is that when the plastic skin is loose or if you are removing entirely, it is a little tricky to get this around the rear door (suicide door) You may want to mask the fender off around this as to not chip or scratch your paint on the fender.
 

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I only took these two pics of my cut as I was pressed for time, but you can get the idea of what to do.

Refreshing my memory I do know for a fact the first time I cut mine I posted pics so there has to be a thread out there someplace (hopefully).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ah, see. That wording is tricky. I never searched "rear lip"... to me that sounds like the rear bumper lip, not a wheel arch. I am kind of bummed that theres already a few threads, but I guess it would still be nice to get a definitive list of "arch-modified" E's.

Also, reading through those threads, I can clear up the plastic rear fender removal; take out all the screws and clips, and slide the fender back towards the taillight (after removing the tail lights). The long metal bracket will slide off the clips, then you can remove the clips and re-install them into the metal bracket for easy re-install of the fender.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Here's a few pictures I took during the process. I really wish I took more photos but this is what I got. I should've taken a few shots of where I cut the plastic when they were off the car.

Here you can see the masking tape mark on the round part of the fender; I marked right on the round body line and cut out about an inch high strip of metal, clamped the metal back together and tack welded all the way around the fender, seam sealed it, rust treated it, and then rubber undercoated over it all.



The masking tape on the upper quarter panel is just to protect the paint when removing and reinstalling the plastic fender. If i did this again, I would've taped off around the taillight and taken the rear bumper off, as the panel rubs the bumper when removing and reinstalling, and i've got a few scratches on my bumper now.







You can see Theres about a 3/4" lip all the way around. This should be plenty of room for bigger wheels.
 

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This is a great subject Tom! You've also got to be very careful not to cut the inner fender connection points. Because after this project is completed and you are driving at speed you will find your rear fenders flapping in the wind. This is one of the most worthwhile things that you can do for any lowered Element. Another thing we did afterward is to spray the modified area with Herculiner to prevent any possible future rust.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes, I think the most important thing for anyone to remember, is that treating the bare metal with SOMETHING is the most important step. undercoat, bedliner, rustoleum, anything you can get your hands on. Especially if you live in an area that is notorious for rust (saltbelt states).
I regret not welding the cut panels completely to make sure they were sealed tight, but spot welds were the best I could get out of my mechanic at the time.
 
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