A common misconception is that the car fender is the same thing as the bumper. However, that’s not the case. So, what is a car fender, and how does it differ from the bumper?
In this guide, I cover the basics of both the car fender and the bumper. I also outline the differences between these two body parts based on the functionality, location, and cost of repairs.
What is a Car Fender?
The car fender covers the wheel. It’s a prominent part, especially in the front of older vehicles. In modern cars, the design is usually flatter, lying against the frame. The purpose of the fender is to hold back debris kicked up by the tires.
When the tire rotates, rocks, debris, dust, and water are all picked up from the road. The tires throw these materials, potentially impacting nearby objects or even causing an accident. Fenders prevent these items from being thrown away from the vehicle.
On some classic cars, you can find a long fender that’s welded on. It runs the entire length of the vehicle from the front to the back. Today, cars have separate fenders for the front and back of the vehicle.
Fenders can be designed from numerous materials. You can find some built from ABS, a high-strength plastic. There are also some designs made from a metallic material.
Car Fender Pros
The fender is responsible for protecting the body of the car. If debris could flow freely from the moving tires, a lot more body damage would occur, requiring repairs. Your fender is the shield that protects both your car and others near you on the road.
The fender also helps to keep the car from getting too messy. Because the fender blocks dust and mud from being sprayed from the tires, you will need to clean your car less frequently.
On top of that, vehicle fenders have a beautiful appearance, perfectly complementing the style of your vehicle. When perfectly matched, the fenders flow seamlessly with the rest of its appearance.
Car Fender Cons
If a car repair occurs and the fender isn’t put on the vehicle properly, you will notice trouble. It has a dramatic impact on the way the vehicle looks. The protruding fender will draw attention, especially if the color isn’t matched perfectly.
Oversize fenders can also impact the aerodynamics of the car. If you are driving at higher speeds, there could be higher resistance that could create a level of instability.
If the fenders are set too low, they can start to brush into the wheels. This can create noise and damage to the fenders over time.
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What is a Car Bumper?
The car bumper attaches to the front or the back of the vehicle. It’s a piece of the body that is meant to absorb impact during an accident or collision. When properly absorbing impact, it protects the car and occupants in the vehicle. They also provide an upgrade to the car’s appearance.
The first bumpers were only used for decorative reasons. However, it wasn’t long before engineers realized that they could also stop damage to the vehicle during an accident. The bumper can also help protect pedestrians who could be hit by the vehicle.
Car bumpers are made from a variety of materials, from rubber to heavy-duty plastic and aluminum. A bullbar can be installed onto the bumper. These are also called grille guards, cattle pushers, rammers, and push bumpers. These works like a bumper, but provide even more impact protection, so the front of the vehicle can push against something without damage.
Car Bumper Pros
The bumper’s main purpose is to protect the vehicle. It’s meant to shield the vehicle from taking too much damage by absorbing a majority of the impact. Bumpers are cheaper to repair or replace than the body damage that would occur without them.
It is also meant to protect pedestrians from serious injury if bumped by the vehicle. While it can’t do much in a serious impact, it will provide some cushion.
Car bumpers also enhance the appearance of the vehicle. Depending on the design, a car bumper can provide a more athletic and sporty look.
Car Bumper Cons
As with a fender that’s not repaired correctly, poor auto body repair can make the bumper look terrible. If the bumper needs to be replaced, it’s imperative to visit a qualified body shop, so the look and style match the car perfectly.
If a bullbar is used, it can cause additional damage to other vehicles during an accident. It can also lead to further injuries to any pedestrian that is hit. Furthermore, bullbars aren’t legal for all uses, so you will need to check local laws. On top of that, the bullbar adds more weight to the car, which could affect the on-road handling.
Car Fender vs. Car Bumper: Main Differences
Both the fender and bumper are meant to protect part of the vehicle. However, the ways that they protect the vehicle are different.
The bumper protects the body of the vehicle from damage following an impact. On the other hand, the fenders keep the body protected from the debris being thrown around by the wheels.
There are two bumpers on most cars. You can find one on the front of the vehicle and one on the rear.
As far as fenders go, you will find them located over each of the wheel wells. This means the majority of vehicles have four fenders.
3. Cost of Repair
It might cost $250 to $5,000 to repair a fender. If the problem is simply minor dents or scratches, you are looking at the lower end of the repair costs. However, severe damage can cause the cost to skyrocket. Your worst-case scenario is that the fender needs to be replaced.
It will usually be cheaper to fix the fender than to replace it with a new one. If you can have it repaired, this is your best bet, especially since you don’t have to try and color match a new fender to the car.
In most cases, repairing or replacing a bumper can quickly add up to a higher price. If the bumper has a simple dent or scratch, it might not cost more than a couple of hundred dollars, because paintless dent repair might be possible. However, extensive repairs are going to cause the cost to go higher. Between the lights, warning sensors, and other advanced equipment in today’s bumpers, there are many more factors associated with this body part.
Again, bumper replacement is going to cost more than a repair unless there’s major damage. Try to have it repaired whenever possible. In either scenario, the prices are going to depend on the type of vehicle you drive and where you take it for repair. Depending on where you live, you might spend anywhere from $65 to $250 per hour in labor charges, unless you know how to do the repairs yourself.
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