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The Difference Between a Bumper and Fender

A Bumper or fender are body parts found on a car, truck or van. They are commonly referred to as “crash parts.” Generally, bumpers are located in the front and rear of a vehicle and are made of plastic, and the fenders are in the front of most cars, over the front wheels, and are made of metal. The Bumper is called this because normally is the piece that  gets “bumped” in an accident. A Fender fend-off debris that gets flung off the front wheels. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two common body parts.


What is a Bumper?

Forty years ago, a  bumper was made of chromed steel, and were of a one-piece design. Slowly, bumpers began to change to meet more stringent laws surrounding safety design in vehicles. Modern cars use a three-part system, including a reinforcement bar, usually made of steel or aluminum, an absorber, usually made of foam or plastic, and a cover, which is the part of the car referred to as a bumper these days. Covers now commonly wrap around the entire front and rear of a car, and meet the fenders in the front, and the quarter panels in the back. They are usually painted the same color as the rest of the vehicle, and sometimes house parking sensors, fog lights, or grilles. Some vehicles, such as light-duty trucks, of course still use painted-steel or chrome bumpers, but even many pickups have gone to the three-component system.

What is a Fender?

In some other countries, a fender is  called “wing”, and with good reason, as they fly over the front wheels. Modern cars’ fenders are usually made of steel or aluminum, although some are plastic or fiberglass. Their main job is mostly an aerodynamic one and not structural. In many designs, their leading-edge wraps around the flush-fitting headlights, and meets the front bumper cover, where the cover attaches with a plastic bracket. Fenders are commonly damaged in accidents and get replaced quite often. On most cars, the fender is adjacent to the front door, and sometimes during a collision will be pushed back into the door, causing it not to open or to open with difficulty.
Again, on most cars fenders are only found in the front. The rear of most cars have quarter panels that form the sheet metal over the rear wheels, are adjacent to the rear doors, and meet the rear bumper under the flush-fitting tail lights. Fenders are bolt-on parts and easily removed, but quarter panels are a welded part of the unibody structure of the car. There are few cars left with actual bolt-on rear fenders.

How to Get a Bumper or a Fender

Bumpers and fenders  are often damaged in collisions, they are made to be relatively easy to replace. They are normally purchased from three types of vendors when needed: new original equipment manufacturer (OEM), used, or aftermarket new. Obviously, on a brand new car, most insurance companies, shops, and vehicle owners prefer the new OEM option, but as a car gets older, it makes more sense to source the parts from either used or aftermarket vendors. While a used fender can sometimes be a viable option, the best alternative to OEM is usually aftermarket for plastic bumpers as they are less likely to be in usable condition from a junkyard.

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