Quarter Panel Buyer's Guide
- A quarter panel is one of the body panels that make up the exterior surface of a vehicle. This panel is typically located between a rear door and the trunk and wraps around the wheel well.
- How does a fender differ from a quarter panel? A fender generally refers to a covering over the wheels. The quarter panel, on the other hand, refers to the panel located between the rear door and the trunk.
- Because of their location on a vehicle, quarter panels are quite susceptible to damage. Collisions and rust are the leading causes of quarter panel damage.
- Aside from the part’s compatibility with your vehicle’s specific year, make and model, there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing a replacement quarter panel. These include the material, color, finish, installation difficulty. Choosing between an OE replacement part versus an OEM part is also an important factor.
- An OE replacement quarter panel can cost you anywhere from $25- $1400.
Knowing the basic parts of your vehicle helps you as a DIYer. Not only do you have a bigger picture of how your vehicle works as a whole, but you also prepare yourself for unexpected repairs.
A vehicle’s quarter panel may not seem like much since it’s just one of the body panels that cover and protect the vehicle’s exterior. However, when this piece of material is damaged, it will affect the structural integrity and aesthetics of your vehicle. What is a quarter panel and when should you replace it? This guide will answer these questions and more.
What is a quarter panel?
A quarter panel is one of the body panels that make up the exterior surface of a vehicle. This panel is typically located between a rear door and the trunk and wraps around the wheel well. A quarter panel is usually made of sheet metal however, materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, or fiber-reinforced plastic are also used because of their lightness and resistance to rust and corrosion.
Quarter panels provide structural support to the body of the vehicle and are usually welded in place. They’re not only for reinforcement, though, as they also define the appearance of your vehicle’s rear.
Some quarter panels are sold in one large piece that can serve both as the rear fender and the roof section of a vehicle. Other quarter panels are designed to serve more as rear fenders because they aren’t connected or integrated into any roof sections. A few other quarter panels come in partial sections, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
Fender vs. Quarter Panel
Through the years, automobile design has changed in that it doesn’t come in separate sections like the main body, fenders, engine covers, and the trunk. Instead, the bodies of vehicles nowadays are more of an integrated whole.
In fact, the past, the part we now know as the trunk used to be a literal trunk or a large, wooden storage container much like the ones used to keep possessions while traveling. The names of these vehicle parts stayed the same because people have become accustomed to them. The term “fender” is one such term.
How does a fender differ from a quarter panel? A fender generally refers to a covering over the wheels. Cars, motorcycles, and bikes all have fenders that prevent mud and other road debris from splashing onto the rest of the vehicle.
The quarter panel, on the other hand, refers to the panel located between the rear door and the trunk. This panel improves the overall structural integrity and aesthetics of a vehicle.
Some people refer to quarter panels as “rear fenders”, while some people refer to fenders as front quarter panels. Because these terms are used interchangeably by most people, it can get confusing. People in the vehicle manufacturing industry, like engineers and designers, might be inclined to use the term quarter panels and rear quarter panels to avoid confusion.
When should you replace your vehicle’s quarter panel?
Because of their location on a vehicle, quarter panels are quite susceptible to damage. Low-impact collisions and rear-end traffic accidents can dent and damage them. In these situations, replacement is an option.
However, not only are quarter panels susceptible to damage due to collisions, but they’re also susceptible to rust and corrosion. Quarter panels do take a regular beating on the road, but they’re more vulnerable to rust during winter.
The combination of ice and salt slush gets thrown about by the rear wheels. If these substances aren’t cleaned out from the vehicle’s body properly, rust can form along the inner lip of each quarter panel. Fluctuating temperatures, like the combination of the low temperatures of winter and the heat of the exhaust, can also contribute to the corrosion and wear of the quarter panel.
Things to consider before buying a quarter panel replacement
Aside from the part’s compatibility with your vehicle’s specific year, make and model, there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing a replacement quarter panel. Below are some tips to help you select a reliable quarter panel replacement:
OE replacements vs OEM parts
OEM replacement quarter panels are quite convenient because they’re made by the same manufacturer as your vehicle or by an authorized manufacturer. They’re also sure to be a direct fit for your vehicle.
However, if you’re looking to ease up on your quarter panel replacement costs, going for an OE replacement quarter panel is a better choice. You’ll enjoy the same quality as OEM parts minus the additional cost. Also, OE replacement quarter panels have a wider variety of materials, designs, and finishes that suit your needs.
Installation is a huge factor that you need to consider before buying a new quarter panel. Replacement of a quarter panel made out of sheet metal requires cutting it off from the vehicle. After this, a replacement quarter panel may be welded in place.
Welding requires specialized skill and if you’re a seasoned DIYer, you can definitely replace your vehicle’s quarter panels on your own. There are a lot of resources you can use to learn how to replace a quarter panel. However, if you’re not sure about welding, you can always have a professional mechanic to do the installation for you.
OE-style replacement quarter panels usually extend up into the roof edge of the vehicle. However, the amount of roof inclusion depends on the year, make, and model of the vehicle. Full OE-style quarter panels also include metal flanges that make it easy even for the average DIYer to weld it to the roof panel above and the rocker panels below.
Due to the amount of specialized labor it takes to replace a quarter panel, repair may be a better option for some. Quarter panel repair involves reconstruction of the damaged quarter panel by hammering it out and using body filler to fill out the uneven surface. However, this process applies only to quarter panels damaged in a collision, and even then, the possibility of repair relies heavily on the amount of damage.
Quarter panels are usually made out of sheet metal. However, quarter panels made of other materials are available as well. Fiberglass, carbon fiber, or reinforced plastic quarter panels are durable enough to stand in for sheet metal quarter panels. These materials are also lightweight, which makes them ideal replacements for off-road applications. The best part about these materials is that they are not susceptible to corrosion and rust.
Color and Finish
Most quarter panels are already primed and painted with a clear coat before they’re shipped off. Because of this, it’s easier to apply the appropriate body paint on the replacement quarter panel that matches your vehicle. This is especially convenient if you’re doing some customization work.
How much is a replacement quarter panel?
An OE replacement quarter panel can cost you anywhere from $25- $1400. Prices usually depend on a variety of factors including the brand, location, and quantity as well as the part’s compatibility with your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
CarParts.com has a diverse catalog of reliable OE replacement quarter panels. Selecting the right part for your vehicle only takes seconds with the site’s vehicle selector tool. You can also narrow down your preferences using the site’s special search filters.
Getting Replacement Quarter Panels
Let's face it. Sooner or later, your car will get dinged by something or someone and you'll end up repairing a dent or bump on your vehicle. Even with round-the-clock maintenance and ever cautious driving, you'll never get away with an accident-free vehicle. It's a good thing that with most vehicles nowadays you could easily repair a dent or two by replacing your car's quarter panel. These are basically sheets of metal that form the exterior of your vehicle and are usually located on the front and back of your car. Getting the right quarter panel for your vehicle is quite easy, and you'll be able to get a replacement for practically any car make and model by ordering online.
Types of quarter panels
Most vehicles have a pair of quarter panels on its front and rear section. Quarter panels at the rear are usually located between the side doors and the trunk, and are often welded into place. On the other hand, the front quarter panels are located near the front fenders and are usually easily removed with a couple of bolts holding them in place. Replacing a front quarter panel is usually much easier compared to changing a rear panel, which is often left to a mechanic or auto body repair shop for them to handle.
Choosing a quarter panel
Picking a quarter panel is very easy since you simply have to get one that's meant for your specific vehicle make and model. We recommend that you go for a high-quality OEM replacement that matches the color of your vehicle, so you won't have to repaint the panel. The only other factor that you'll probably consider when getting a replacement quarter panel would be the price. Smaller panels can go for as low as $50, while larger ones can range anywhere from $100 to $1000. Prices would also vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, so it's best to check with a couple of retailers so you could get the best price for your car's quarter panel.
Replacing Your Car's Quarter Panel Properly
Quarter panels are the metal sheets in front of your car between the front doors and the bumper. Over time, these panels could rust up or simply fall apart from wear and tear. On older vehicles, replacing these panels often involves drilling, welding, and cutting off excess metal from the car. It's a good thing that with most cars nowadays, quarter panels can simply be taken off by removing a couple of bolts underneath them. You'll need a friend to help you out, but taking replacing your vehicle's quarter panels shouldn't be too hard and should probably take you an hour or two to finish.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need
- Socket with socket wrench
- Jack with jack stands
- Tire wrench
- Quarter panel
This guide is meant for vehicles that have bolted on quarter panels. If you have an older vehicle, you might have to cut off your panels and weld new ones into place. Should this prove too difficult for you, we recommend that you go to an auto detail shop or trusted mechanic instead.
Step 1: Start by loosening the lug nuts on your vehicle's wheel next to the quarter panel that you are about to replace.
Step 2: Lift your vehicle with a jack and set it up on a couple of jack stands.
Step 3: Take off the lug nuts from your car's wheels and remove the wheel entirely.
Step 4: You'll need to remove the wheel liner by removing the plastic rivets that lock them into place. For most vehicle's, you'll simply have to pry them off using a flat screwdriver. Make sure that you do not damage the rivets so do this carefully.
Step 5: Take off the wheel liner so could gain access to the bolts that hold your old quarter panel in place. The number of bolts varies depending on your vehicle's make and model.
Step 6: There should also be a number of bolts holding your quarter panel to your vehicle's body. Locate these by opening your car's hood. They should be near the area of the quarter panel inside your engine bay.
Step 7: Loosen all the bolts so you could take out your old quarter panel. You'll need someone to help you out by holding the quarter panel while you loosen the bolts.
Step 8: Pull out your old quarter panel and install a new one in its place.
Step 9: Have someone hold your new quarter panel in place while you tighten all the bolts.
Step 10: When you're done, you'll simply have to reinstall the rest of the parts that you've removed in reverse order.