Auto Body Panel: The Different Parts, Their Location & Function

Educational

Jul 27th, 2020

Auto Body Panel: The Different Parts, Their Location & Function

Humans are visual creatures; no wonder car manufacturers design cars with body panels and an exterior that will draw attention. But that's not the sole purpose of a car’s body panel. What we refer to as the automotive body panel is a sophisticated assortment of large, uniquely shaped steel sections. These sections provide a solid mount and covering for your car's systems and protect occupants from elements and during collisions. 

The modern car's body is designed to improve the user’s overall driving or riding experience as opposed to early vehicles which were extremely uncomfortable. Years of innovation and improvement of car bodies and suspension systems are the reason why we now get better-looking cars, smooth rides, and cushioning from the jarring of the road. First, let's look into the types of chassis.

Chassis (Frame)

The body of a car needs a firm structure, while the suspension system needs an anchor point; the chassis serves both these requirements. There are two types of chassis, namely:

  • Conventional/body-on-frame – This can either be a one-piece or two one-piece frames fastened together. This type of chassis is made extremely rigid to keep other car parts in alignment. Despite its dwindling popularity, cars fitted with a conventional chassis tend to be better at off-roading as they withstand twisting forces better. They are also cheaper to repair because the chassis and body are separate; you can replace either or both quite easily. Modern cars fitted with body-on-frame chassis include the BMW i8, Lexus LX, and Jeep Wrangler to mention a few.
  • Integral/unibody – This type of chassis is easy to design. They rely on other auto body parts to structurally strengthen the entire car. The Opel Olympia and Traction Avant were among the first cars fitted with unibody chassis. They feature superior safety equipment and better fuel economy and can be seen in most cars. However, this frame is not ideal for off-roading as they do not handle twisting forces as well as the conventional one does.

Auto Body Parts

All auto body parts have a function. Yes, they improve the car's looks, but they also serve other more important uses. 

Hood

The hood protects the engine from debris and other hazards, including direct sunlight and rain.

Bumper

Bumpers, or energy absorbers, are located at the front of the car. They are the first point of impact and, as such, are intended to cushion the vehicle from excessive damage and reduce repair costs. If you're replacing it, go for a more durable or reinforced bumper.

Bumper end

Car body parts are made from steel and other metals. The bumper end, located at both ends of the bumper, seals the larger assembly protecting it from dirt and other corrosive materials which can cause damage to these car parts.

Valance Panel

Most modern vehicles have valance panels. They are fitted at the front, rear, or both and attached to the bumpers to help direct airflow to aid the aerodynamics and conceal and protect the underside components. 

Inner Fender

Fenders are the arch-like components found on the side of the car body around each of the wheel cutouts. They protect the body from snow, debris, dirt, and all other materials which the tyres throw while driving. 

Fender Extension Panel

These panels improve the look and functionality of the fender. They are located between the bumper and fender, therefore, providing additional cushioning from impacts.

Header Panel

They are located above the bumper and made of either sheet metal, plastic or fibreglass. They act as a connector between the grille and headlights.

Windshield Cowl Panel

The cowl panel is found beneath the lower windshield. It's where the windshield rests while not in motion, the water dispersed by the wipers flow through it and prevents excess debris from entering the vent panel and cowl.

Lower Door Skin

The door acts as an attachment point for handles and side-view mirrors (though not in all models). The lower door skin is equally essential as it prevents the door panel from being damaged by bumps, kicks, scuffs and flying debris. 

Rocker Panel

This is a steel panel located between the front and rear wheels, along the floor and beneath the doors. They provide structural support and protect the car's frame from corrosive material such as moisture and dirt.

Wheel Arch Panel

This is the panel that curves above the wheel. It protects the body from dirt, water and debris thrown up from the road by your car and other passing vehicles. 

Quarter Panel

It is located between the rear door and the trunk. Some vehicles have a lower and upper quarter panel. It’s usually the part that gets damaged if you get into a rear-end traffic accident or parking lot fender bender. Since cars are built differently, you can replace either the lower or upper panel independently for some cars, whereas you may need to buy the entire panel for others.

Firewall

The firewall is the protective wall separating the passenger compartment and the engine. In collisions, it protects the driver and passengers from the bulk of the engine.

Auto Body Panels from CarPart

You may source car body panels and other auto parts through Carpart.com.au, where you can find original car parts at competitive prices. Contact us today or use our Request-A-Part tool to find suppliers near you.


By Eric Anyega