Fender Repair – Car Maintenance in South Bolivia


The Land Cruiser demands attention. During our rough trip through south Bolivia, the mirror fell off and needs to be retightened. Since one of the blinkers is almost breaking off because the fender is completely rusted through, we search for a workshop to have the fenders repaired.

In Uyuni this seems to be too big a job. Even before the mechanics say anything, their faces already tell us their answer. They don’t say a straightforward “no”, but will answer something like, “Maybe next week” or “I ran out of oxygen”.

One way or another the message is clear: The headlight and fender repairs will have to wait.

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fender repair - welding fenders in Bolivia
fender repair - welding fenders in Bolivia

Headlights and Fender Repair in a Courtyard

We return to Tupiza, where we find a workshop. The job keeps Coen busy for two days. As usual he remains present while all the work is done. He doesn’t mind. The atmosphere is relaxed. It’s more like a couple of friends working on a car in the back garden than being in a workshop.

He learns that new sheet metal is unknown in this part of the country. Improvisation is the keyword. Replacing a piece of metal means checking out remnants of old cars lying around that might serve.

After going back and forth a couple of time the mechanic and Coen are both satisfied with the donor material to repair the fender.

Read More: Tips for Overland Camping on Salar de Uyuni

fender repair - welding fenders in Bolivia

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Welding and painting the metal is done in a trice but then more improvisation is demanded.

One of the original special hollow bolts that hold the blinker and that is used to pass wires through, is now too short because the fender has grown in thickness where the bolt passes.

Coen is taken to a house a few blocks away from where a huge lathe is sitting in the courtyard. For next to nothing a nice stainless steel bolt is gutted and Coen is a happy man once more.

Read More: The Land Cruiser Restoration in Bolivia

fender repair - welding fenders in Bolivia

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