Protecting the investment you made in your heavy-duty equipment has its obvious do’s & don’ts, but there are a few do’s that are not so obvious. One of those is the use of fenders on your heavy-duty equipment. The use of fenders for semi-trucks, farm equipment, and construction machinery is much more than just the protection of your trucks and trailers. They can also protect other drivers and their equipment on the roadways. Equipment, safety, operating costs, as well as overall enhancing the appearance of your trucks and trailers are the features and functions of fenders.
In this article, we will explain all you need to know about fenders for your heavy-duty equipment. From the importance of fenders to the materials used, you will learn the ins & outs of heavy-duty fenders.
- Why You Should Be Using Fenders?
- What Materials Are Fenders Made From?
- Are There Different Fender Styles?
Why You Should Be Using Fenders?
Truck fenders are a great addition to your heavy-duty equipment no matter the application. From a big rig delivering goods over the road to your farm equipment at home, fenders add protection without losing functionality needed to get the job done. Here are a few reasons you should be using fenders.
Fenders Limit Exposure to Weather Elements
Depending on where you are going, you may be traveling through several different weather elements and the use of truck fenders will limit the exposure your cab sees. Your tires already grab the materials on the road and splash it every which way, quickly getting your truck and cab dirty. Stopping to clean your truck is a necessity, especially when driving through winter weather elements where road salt will take its toll on your paint. By using fenders, you can prevent 30% or more of road spray from splattering onto your equipment, saving you time and money.
Fenders Reduce Wind Resistance to Maximize Fuel Economy
One of the easiest ways to improve your fuel-efficiency is to reduce the drag created by your heavy-duty vehicle. Heavy trucks will burn a significant amount of fuel because of their poor aerodynamics. The use of fenders will help redirect airflow to pass smoothly around the rest of the vehicle. On average, 50% of an 18-wheeler’s fuel is spent fighting the aerodynamic drag while on the highways. Fenders will reduce the drag your equipment is put through, while also improving your gas mileage to potentially save you thousands at the pump.
Fenders Provide Safety to You and Others on The Road
Truck fenders are important to the safety of both your vehicle and those around you. With the weight of semi-trucks, they can put immense pressure on the road and their tires. That pressure can easily cause debris, such as rocks, to lodge itself in the tire treads, just waiting to be flung out. That rock could then be thrown towards your cab, or even worse, the windshield of another vehicle. Whether it’s a rock or water spray, road debris is hazardous to yourself and others on the road. Fenders will act as a barrier between your tires and the environment around them to keep you and others safe.
What Materials Are Fenders Made From?
The 3 main materials in which fenders are constructed from are fiberglass, polypropylene (plastic), and metal. Choosing the right fender material can widely depend on the conditions you will be driving in. Remembering each materials advantages’ will help equip you with the right fender for your needs.
Fiberglass fenders are a highly popular choice for show trucks and those in high-end applications. They are some of the most customizable fenders on the market and can be easily repainted to match your existing paint scheme. However, fiberglass fenders can easily show more scratches and other cosmetic imperfections compared to other fender materials. They also bring a higher risk for a complete replacement when damaged and run on the higher end of the price scale.
Polypropylene (Plastic) Fenders
Fenders constructed from poly (plastic) are the most durable and cost-efficient fenders available on the market. They can withstand even the harshest weather conditions. With poly (plastic) fenders, there is less worry about damage to your equipment or having to replace your fenders. These fenders also feature a high resistance to dents, scratches, and corrosion. You can even shape some poly (plastic) fenders back to normal on the spot if they are damaged. Poly (plastic) fenders provide long-lasting solutions for protecting your truck and other vehicles from debris.
Metal fenders offer a sleek high-end appearance without losing the durability or reliability needed for your heavy equipment. Metal fenders are most commonly constructed from stainless steel or aluminum. Choosing between stainless steel and aluminum can be challenging, since both provide excellent durability and corrosion resistance, but each material offers their own benefits.
Stainless steel fenders are some of the best-looking fenders you can buy. While they are similar to aluminum fenders, there are a few features that set them apart. Stainless steel is a heavier material that is more resistant to denting and warping when compared to aluminum. Also, it is easily weldable should a fender ever need to be repaired, instead of having the high replacement cost.
Both aluminum and stainless steel fender materials provide durability and have a nice polished finish, but aluminum has a few characteristics that are seen as slightly superior. Aluminum fenders provide a more lightweight design to keep unwanted weight from adding to the truck and helps improve fuel efficiency. Another key characteristic for aluminum is they are naturally corrosion resistant, meaning they will never rust! However, aluminum fenders are more prone to dents, scratches, and cracks, and are not as easily repaired, meaning you may have to replace the whole fender.
Are There Different Fender Styles?
Yes, there are different fender styles. While appearance may be one of the first things on your mind when your choosing a fender style, you should also be thinking about the amount of coverage that you will need. You want your truck to stand out and be stylish, but also cover enough to stop water spray, rocks, and other debris from hitting your truck, trailer, and other vehicles on the road.
The different heavy-duty fender styles include the following:
- Quarter Fender
- Full Round Fender
- Half Tandem Axle Fender
- Full Tandem Axle Fender
Quarter fenders cover only a quarter portion of your tire and are somewhat effective at protecting the cab from debris. A quarter fender will cover from mid-way on the back of the tire to the top or near top of the tire. This fender is best used when a low level of spray and debris protection is needed.
Full Round Fenders
Full round fenders cover the whole top half of your tire. Thinking of the tire as a clock, the full round fender covers from 9 until 3 and are also known as single hump fenders, or half-moon fenders, because of their shape. Being one of the most popular choices by operators, they provide the highest level of debris protection compared to all other fender styles.
Half Tandem Axle Fenders
Half tandem axle fenders wrap around the tandem’s rear tire and offers a flat top. Looking at the tire, the half tandem axle fender would have the flat top extended in between the two tandem wheels and curve down around the back-tandem tire. These fenders are designed for equipment needing a small amount of protection while offering easy access to the tire. They are also a popular choice for those pulling a very low sitting trailer.
Full Tandem Axle Fenders
A full tandem axle fender is the most cost-effective way to cover both axles. They feature a curved front and run a flat top between the two wheels before curving back down the rear tire. Some full tandem fenders may have a dip in between the two tires, but are still connected as one fender. These fenders offer great protection for both wheels and gives a stylish finished look.
Next Step: Talk with an Expert
Adding fenders to your heavy-duty equipment can bring several questions for you to answer, like, “Which fender material fits my needs?” or “What fender style is best?” Our Wheelco team of aftermarket experts and service techs are available to help you answer those questions with industry-leading fenders by Minimizer, BettsHD, Trux, and Fleet Engineers. Stop in or call one of our multiple locations, or shoot us an email and our experts will match you with the best fender for your heavy-duty needs.