Fender Buyer’s Guide
- A car fender is a rigid vehicle panel that houses the wheel well. It forms an arch that is designed to protect the wheel and prevent road debris such as rocks, sand, and mud from being thrown into the air by the spinning tire.
- Curved steel was predominantly used in the fabrication of fender panels when they were first introduced in the late 1800s.
- Today, automakers use non-ferrous sheet metals and other materials to avoid corrosion damage caused by exposure to water and the elements. You can find modern fenders made from steel, aluminum, thermoplastic, and fiberglass.
- Steel is the most rigid and abrasion-resistant material used in making fenders. They offer the best protection from large debris and are less likely to dent.
- Aluminum offers the strength of metal without the heaviness of steel. They are also corrosion-resistant which means you won’t have to worry about rust and water damage.
- Heavy-duty plastics can be used to make a corrosion-free fender that is also resistant to chemical damage.
- Fiberglass is an incredibly stiff yet lightweight material that provides fenders with outstanding strength.
- There are two types of fenders based on location: front quarter panels and rear quarter panels.
- Fender repair and replacement are very common because of where these panels are located on a vehicle. Side-sweep accidents and parking miscalculations are frequent causes of fender damage.
- Forgoing repairs or replacement for these panels limits their ability to protect other vehicle components from getting damaged.
- Consider brand, finish, warranty, and your car's make and model to find a good fender replacement.
- Replacement fenders will cost you anywhere between $70 per panel and $1,300 for a kit. Expect to spend an additional $200 to $600 for labor and installation.
- Installing a car fender on your own is easy if you have the necessary tools and know-how.
What is a Fender?
A car fender is a rigid vehicle panel that houses the wheel well. It forms an arch that is designed to protect the wheel and prevent road debris such as rocks, sand, and mud from being thrown into the air by the spinning tire. A pair of front and rear fenders can be found on each side of a vehicle.
Aside from keeping your vehicle clean, car fenders protect vital components from minor collisions. They also help define the car's overall style and design. They provide classy contours that give your car a classy, edgy look, especially when your vehicle is viewed from the side. They also help improve your car's aerodynamics, so your car is not only cleaner but also faster.
What is the Difference Between a Bumper and Fender?
It’s common for people to confuse bumpers for fenders mostly because minor accidents are often called ‘fender benders.’ However, these two types of panels are installed in different parts of the vehicle. Bumpers are located at the front and rear of the vehicle, while fenders are fitted on the side of the vehicle body around each wheel assembly.
What are Car Fenders Made Of?
Curved steel was predominantly used in the fabrication of fender panels when they were first introduced in the late 1800s. Today, automakers use non-ferrous sheet metals and other materials to avoid corrosion damage caused by exposure to water and the elements. You can find modern car fenders made from steel, aluminum, thermoplastic, and fiberglass.
Steel is the most rigid and abrasion-resistant material used in making fenders. They offer the best protection from large debris and are less likely to dent—making them a popular choice for off-road vehicles. Steel fender panels are significantly heavier than their aluminum, plastic, or fiberglass counterparts.
Aluminum offers the strength of metal without the heaviness of steel. They are a great alternative to steel because these panels are corrosion resistant. This means you won’t have to worry about its structural integrity degrading over time due to rust and water damage.
Heavy-duty plastics can also be used to make fender panels. Using plastic not only eliminates concerns about rust and corrosion, you also get a panel that is resistant to chemical damage. They are lightweight and damage from low-speed collisions is easy to fix. However, they are susceptible to cracking from heavy impact.
Fiberglass is another material that provides outstanding strength. This material is surprisingly stiff despite being lightweight. Compared to other metals and plastic fenders, working with fiberglass requires more skill and takes more time to complete. These factors make repairing fiberglass fenders a little bit pricier.
Types of Fender Panels
There are two types of fenders based on location: front quarter panels and rear quarter panels.
Front Fenders or Front Quarter Panels
Front fender panels are located on the sides of each front wheel. These panels typically cover the sides of the headlights to the hinge of the driver and passenger doors on the A-pillar. A car front fender runs vertically from the hood to the wheel well.
Rear Fenders or Rear Quarter Panels
Rear fender panels are located on the sides of each rear wheel. They extend from the edge of the rear doors on the C-pillar all the way towards the edge of the tail lights. Rear fenders also usually feature a fuel hole with a gas cap. These features can be found on either the driver or passenger rear panels, depending on the year and model of the vehicle.
When Should Fenders be Replaced?
Fender replacement and repair are very common because of where the panels are located on a vehicle. Sideswipe accidents and parking miscalculations are frequent causes of car fender damage.
Forgoing repairs on these panels limit their ability to protect surrounding vehicle components from damage. Sand, salt, mud, and other kinds of road debris can infiltrate your wheel hub assembly and suspension system without fenders that function as wheel well covers.
A dented quarter panel may not seem like it warrants a visit to a licensed mechanic, but this may conceal serious problems that could lead to costly repairs down the road.
Electrical wiring that runs underneath the vehicle may have been pinched by a dented panel, causing a lighting system failure. Your vehicle frame and wheels may get misaligned which could compromise your safety. These are just some of the reasons why you shouldn’t overlook any minor fender damage.
How to Find a Good Replacement Fender
Tip #1: Find a brand that specializes in manufacturing high-quality fenders. If the brand is known for producing top-notch aftermarket accessories, you can guarantee that you will get a product that's worth your hard-earned cash.
Tip #2: Get a fender that's custom-built to your vehicle's make and model. Believe us, this will make installation quick and easy.
Tip #3: Choose a finish that goes well with your vehicle's overall appearance.
Tip #4: Purchase a replacement fender that comes with a product warranty for added peace of mind.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Fender?
Replacement fenders will cost you anywhere between $70 per panel and $1,300 for a fender kit, which may include a hood, complementing bumpers, and fender liners. Hiring a professional to paint and install your fenders may cost you around $200 to $600 depending on your location. Considering all these factors, the average repair cost for a fender replacement can range between $300 and $1,600.
How to Install a Fender
Things that you'll need:
- 1/4-inch drill bit
- Ratchet set
- Dust mask
Step 1: Unbolt the bumper from your car so you can uninstall the stock fender (you can sell it to a scrap yard if you want to). Keep all the hardware you discarded.
Step 2: Disconnect the headlights from your car by using pliers.
Step 3: Place the fender on the side of your car. Using the permanent marker, mark the position of the core support bolts on your fender.
Step 4: Put on the dust mask and goggles. Drill 1/4-inch-wide holes on the marked spots on your fender.
Step 5: After the holes are done, bolt the fender on the side of your car. Make sure that it doesn't impede the opening and closing of your door or hood. If it does, make the necessary adjustment.
Step 6: Install the headlight in front of the fender. You can use a ratchet to tighten the bolts. Check if the fender fits against the headlight.
Step 7: Tighten the core support bolts with the ratchet. You can repeat the install process to the other side of your vehicle.