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What Is A Fender And Why Is It Important?

Every car on the road has a set of fenders. If you're looking to learn more about what fenders are and why they're important, you came to the right place.

What Is A Fender?

Beetle fender

A fender is an auto body part. The fender is usually made of the same material as the rest of the car's body. If you walk up to a car and look at the body panel right above each wheel, you'll find the fenders. The fender assembly also includes a fender liner. More on this later.

The fender is not a cosmetic part. It actually serves an important purpose. It protects the vehicle and surrounding vehicles from:

  • Mud
  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Rocks
  • Liquids
  • Road debris

How Does A Fender Offer Protection?

Without a fender housing each wheel well, driving would be very messy. When you drive, your vehicle's tires spin very fast. As they spin, they pick up debris and moisture from the ground and then spray it into the air. The kinetic energy from the tire ejects these materials into the air at high velocity. When that happens, the debris and moisture can:

  • Get the vehicle dirty
  • Scratch the vehicle
  • Get other pedestrians or vehicles dirty
  • Hurt other pedestrians
  • Damage other vehicles

That's why fenders exist. Fenders catch the debris and moisture before they can hit anything else. In other words, fenders "contain" the dirt and moisture within the wheel well.

What Parts Does A Fender Assembly Have?

Fender liner

A Volkswagen fender assembly contains several parts:

  • The fender
  • A fender liner
  • Hardware

The fender is the exterior body part. It's painted the same color as the body.

The fender liner is a sturdy curved liner that's installed inside the wheel well, above the wheel. Depending on the vehicle, the fender liner may be made of metal or thermoplastic. The fender liner may be a part of the fender assembly, but it serves a unique purpose. When the wheel sprays debris and moisture, some of it sprays upwards into the wheel well and the engine bay. That can be a problem because these materials are harmful to the engine, wiring, and other related components within the well and bay. For example, the debris and moisture can:

  • Corrode parts
  • Hit the parts hard enough to damage them
  • Contaminate the fluids within the engine, if there's a hole in the lines somewhere

That's why the fender liner exists. It blocks these impurities from the engine bay, or parts that could be damaged.

The fender assembly has several different pieces of hardware, such as:

Fender Liner Extensions

You can opt to add fender liner extensions to your fenders. A fender liner stays flush with the body. A fender liner extension sticks out a bit. The purpose of having fender liner extensions is to protect the fender and other auto body panels from debris and moisture. They can come in useful if you regularly drive in:

  • Wet and muddy conditions
  • Colder climates where there's salt or gravel on the road
  • Areas with dirt roads and/or unmaintained roads

A fender liner extension is bolted in place with fender extension bolts (such as this one).

The Difference Between A Fender And A Bumper

Fender bumper

Sometimes people think that the fenders are a part of the bumper assembly. That's not the case. The bumper and the fenders are separate parts.

You can find the fenders on the front left and the front right of the vehicle. You'll also find them at the rear left and the rear right of the vehicle. The bumpers are at the very front and the very rear of the vehicle. On many (if not all) VW vehicles, the bumpers and fenders look very streamlined. So it's no wonder that people think that all these parts are built together.