If you aren’t familiar with car mechanics and technical jargon it can be hard to understand what different parts of a vehicle are and what they do. One of the more difficult parts to understand, despite its simplicity, is the fender, and what role is has on a vehicle.
The fender is the part of the car directly over the wheel well which helps prevent debris and grime kicked up by the wheels from damaging the sides of the car or other nearby vehicles while you drive. The fender also protects the wheels from side impacts and other potential damage
While this definition is relatively simple, there is a lot more to understanding what a fender is and what role it plays on a car.
What Is A Fender On A Car?
A car fender might be a simple piece of plastic or metal, but it has an important role in making sure your car is clean and safe.
What are Fenders?
Fenders are the curved strut which sits over the wheel well on a car and helps cover the top of the wheel. Most cars have fenders of one type or another to help cover their wheel wells, and these fenders are generally made of the same plastic, metal, or fiberglass material as the rest of the vehicle.
Fenders protect the sides of your car. The main purpose of fenders is to prevent the dirt and debris kicked up by your wheels from damaging the sides of your car. The fender catches anything brought up by your wheels and causes it to drop straight down instead of spattering against or scratching your vehicle.
Fenders also help protect your wheels. Fenders also provide some protection to the wheels against collisions with other cars, although this isn’t perfect. Generally the fenders will get hit before the wheels do and, depending on how hard the impact is, will stop whatever hit your car from damaging your tires.
Fenders vs Quarter Panels
Fenders and quarter panels might be located extremely close together on a car but they have very different functions and appearances.
- Appearance: Fenders are a curved strut which sits directly over the wheel well, so it hangs more over the wheels and off the side of the car. Quarter panels, on the other hand, are the panels which sit over fenders and help cover the area around the doors, trunk, hood, and wheels.
- Function: Fenders are used to protect your car, both from things kicked up by the wheels and from side impact that might damage your wheels. A quarter panel, on the other hand, just covers a section of the frame on the side of the car and provides some extra protection from impacts.
- Replacement: A fender is relatively easy to replace at home if you have the tools and knowledge to do so. A quarter panel attached to the frame of your car, however, and short of talking to a mechanic you will need to dismantle the side of your vehicle to get this panel off.
Fenders vs Bumpers
Fenders and bumpers have a lot in common in terms of what purpose they serve on a car, but they are still different parts.
- Appearance: Fenders are a curved strut which sits over the wheel well and covers some of the side of the car. Bumpers are a pair of large, curving panels that stick out from the front and back of the vehicle, and in some designs hold the license plates.
- Function: Fenders protect the sides of your car from debris kicked up by the wheels and protect the wheels from minor impacts. Bumpers are designed to protect the front and back of your car from impacts, and some vehicles also have license plates fixed to their bumpers.
- Replacement: Removing a bumper or a fender is fairly easy since both parts hang from the sides of the vehicle and aren’t hidden behind other panels. The only difference between the two parts in this regard is how many bolts you need to remove to pull them off.
OEM vs After Market Fender, What Should You Buy If You Need To Replace A Fender
There is an ongoing debate in the car lover community around what type of parts should be used to repair vehicles, original equipment manufacturer parts or after-market items. Original equipment manufacturer parts, or OEM parts, are items direct from the car manufacturer while after-market parts are third party. As a general rule, OEM parts are more reliable and effective than after-market parts.
Design. Since OEM parts are designed by the same company that makes a vehicle, they will fit perfectly onto your vehicle without needing special adaptations or having an awkward look. After-market parts, by contrast, are made independently with no guarantee that they will match the look of your vehicle or connect to it properly.
Reliability. Car manufacturers are required to use materials that meet certain quality and durability standards, so their parts are more reliable than after-market items. After-market manufacturers have fewer standards and less access to high quality materials, making their parts less dependable by comparison.
Where to Buy Replacement Fender Online
It can be difficult to find replacement parts for your vehicle, especially if there are no major auto part stores or mechanics companies in your area. If you are looking for a place to buy fenders online, consider using one of the following online auto part retailers.
Rock Auto. Rock Auto has a massive stock of reliable parts across hundreds of makes, models, and brands.
Advance Auto Parts. Beyond parts and materials, Advance Auto Parts also offers tutorials, videos, and tools to help you learn car maintenance skills.
Carparts.com. Carparts.com offers a wide range of parts and materials across a wide range of vehicles from different brands and years.
Parts Geek. Parts Geek offers excellent wholesale prices and reliable shipping, as well as a large selection of different auto parts.
Amazon. Amazon is not a dedicated auto parts store so they may not have the parts you need in stock, but their pricing and shipping system are reliable.
The fender is a unique and vital part of a vehicle’s framework that helps protect both the car itself and the wheels, both of which are important.
How Do You Replace A Fender?
If your fender is completely beyond repair and you want to replace the damaged part, there is a way to do this quickly and easily at home. In order to replace a fender, however, you’ll need the following tools:
- A ratchet/socket wrench set
- A set of screwdrivers
- A tack or microfiber cloth
Once you have your tools and your spare fender, you can get started replacing your old fender.
- Step 1: Detach the screws and bolts that fasten the fender to the car body. You may also need to remove your head and tail lights if they are close to the fender, so be prepared to open the hood and the trunk to get these components out.
- Step 2: Pre fit the new fender to make sure it will attach to your car’s frame without bending or warping.
- Step 3: After making sure the fit is right, take the new fender back off and reinstall your lights, if you had to remove them to get your original fender off.
- Step 4: Install your new fender by screwing and bolting it onto your car’s frame.
You can also use these steps to paint or style a fender by taking the fender off your car, customizing it, then refitting the same fender onto your car once it’s dry.
How to Fix a Fender at Home
A dent or crack in your fender can be a difficult problem to deal with, as your fender may not be broken beyond repair but it still has damage that needs to be addressed. One way to handle fender damage is to repair it at home using your own tools and techniques. Depending on what type of damage you have and how extensive it is, there are many ways to fix a fender at home.
- A dent puller uses suction to pull small dents back into shape, but it does not fix scratches or paint damage.
- Heating the fender with hot air, like from a hair dryer, then cooling it with cold air, like from a compressor, will slowly cause a dent to settle back into place.
- Pouring hot water over a dent on a plastic fender will soften it enough for you to press the dent back into place.
- Professional dent removal kits can treat dents and small cracks by using hot glue and handles to pull damaged fender parts back into place.
- For extreme damage the only solution is body filler and car paint, which are needed to fill in the dent or crack and paint over the solution once it dries.
All of these methods can be done at home with varying levels of skill and types of equipment involved, depending on how bad the damage you need to fix is.
What Is A Fender Cover?
A fender cover is a sheet of fabric that hangs over a car’s front fenders to protect them and the front tires while someone works under the hood. This mat provides some cushioning against heavy blows and scratches while also making sure fluids like oil and coolant don’t spill down the side of the vehicle.
Fenders are an important part of modern vehicles that help prevent debris kicked up by the wheels from scratching or splattering across the side of the car. If you have any questions about what fenders do or how to install or repair them, comment with them below.
Hi, I am Brad. Car Independent is your source for independent views on cars and car accessories. Whether you looking to buy a new car or something cool for your car, you have many options. My aim to help you make the best-informed choices.