Do you have any idea what a “wing” is on a car?  If you are unfamiliar with that term it’s because those pesky British insist on using unusual names for car parts.  A wing in England is a fender in the United States; now if that question comes up on Trivial Pursuit you are ready with the answer.

We can’t just point our fingers at the British, however; in the United States fenders have been called mudguards as well so we have no room to talk.  In fact, mudguard is a much better description of the purpose of the fender for that is precisely what it was made to do….guard against flying mud.

In the United States, the word fender refers to the bolted panel over the front wheels alone and not the rear wheels.  The fenders are larger in diameter than the wheels and their purpose is to prevent mud and rocks from flying out from under the car and possibly causing damage to pedestrians or other cars.

So why, then, do we insist on calling any small accident, like a bump to the side door panel, a fender-bender?  Oh well, we may never know. On trucks there is also a fender flare which is attached and rides right behind the wheel, thus blocking more mud, dirt and stone.

As stated earlier, the fender, in order to be considered an actual fender, is a bolted panel; if it is welded, like so many on the back wheels, then it is considered a quarter-panel.  Are you confused yet?

Whatever the heck you call it, the fender does serve a useful purpose and, if bolted, is fairly easy to replace should you find yourself in need of one.  Removing a couple bolts is all there is to it, a process so easy practically anyone can do it.  That leads us to the question:  why would you have a body shop do this repair for you when it is so easy to do it yourself?  Why not go to a salvage yard, pick up the replacement part at great savings, and install it yourself?

In fact, there are so many used parts that are easy to replace, such as the radiator, brakes and windshield, that is makes one wonder why more people don’t do car repairs themselves.  In tough economic times it makes sense to do the repairs and save money, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the under-appreciated fender will always keep vigil over the front wheels as you drive merrily along on your travels.