Beyond the gleaming exterior and roaring engine, a car’s design incorporates several essential components that often go unnoticed. Among these lesser-known automotive design features, rocker panels are crucial.
Running between the front and rear wheel wells, a car rocker panel plays a vital role in absorbing collision forces and protecting the overall structure from potential damage. Let’s delve into more details about this important vehicle design component.
What are Car Rocker Panels Made of?
Rocker panels are typically made of steel, a strong and durable material that can withstand the wear and tear of everyday driving. It is also relatively inexpensive, which makes it a cost-effective choice for car manufacturers.
In recent years, some car manufacturers have started using aluminium rocker panels. Aluminium is lighter than steel, which can improve fuel efficiency. However, aluminium is not as durable as steel, so it is not as common.
Some luxury cars even have carbon fibre rocker panels. Carbon fibre is lighter than steel and aluminium, and even stronger than both. However, it is also more expensive. Given the material’s lightweight, carbon fibre wheels in EVs are installed to help boost its electric range and efficiency.
Where Is a Car Rocker Panel Located on a Vehicle?
Rocker panels in cars are structural components that run along the bottom side of the vehicle. Connecting the front and rear wheel wells, these components are located just beneath the car doors.
Furthermore, the car rocker panel often serves as a step for entering and exiting the cabin of taller vehicles. Alongside functionality, rocker panels define the vehicle’s side profile. Depending on the type of car door design, the positioning of rocker panels can have a significant on the car’s overall aesthetics.
What Do Rocker Panels Do for a Car?
Made of strong materials, such as steel, aluminium or carbon fibre, a vehicle rocker panel can help to absorb the collision impact to some extent. It can also help keep the car’s body from sagging, twisting or bending due to the collision.
In addition to their structural role, rocker panels can help improve the car’s aerodynamics. The shape of the rocker panels can help to reduce drag and improve the car’s fuel efficiency. To learn more about vehicle aerodynamics, read here.
Way to Protect Your Car Rocker Panels
Depending on the vehicle’s ground clearance, rocker panels are often located very close to the ground. This makes them prone to different types of damage, such as corrosion, dents and cracks. That said, here are useful tips for maintaining car rocker panels.
- Applying a coat of wax or polish on your car regularly will help protect rocker panels among other exterior parts from salt, dirt and moisture. Make sure to be aware of the difference between car wax and car polish before cleaning your car rocker panels.
- Another way to create a barrier between the rocker panel and damaging elements is to have your car undercoated.
- You can also search through car accessories for sale in the UAE to look for rocker panel guards. By installing these metal or plastic-made shields, you can protect rocker panels from potential damage.
Can a Car Be Driven without Rocker Panels?
Yes, a car can be driven for a short period without rocker panels. However, it is advisable not to drive it at all, as the absence of rocker panels compromises the car’s structural integrity. Without rocker panels, the forces of an accident can impact other body parts more severely. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in useful tips for safely escaping a car rollover accident, you can read them here.
What is a Slip-on Rocker Panel?
A slip-on rocker panel is a replacement rocker panel. Typically made of plastic or fibreglass, these types of rocker panels are attached to the vehicle using screws, rivets or adhesive. Nevertheless, slip-on rocker panels are a less expensive alternative to welding ones.
They are also a good option if you only need to replace a small section of the rocker panel. That said, slip-on rocker panels are not as strong as their welded counterparts and cannot provide the same level of protection in a collision. Therefore, instead of considering this temporary rocker panel replacement, it is better to have the damaged component repaired.
Rocker Panels Vs Side Skirts: What’s the Difference?
People often confuse side skirts and rocker panels, but these two parts serve different functions. Rocker panels are structural components, whereas side skirts are aftermarket additions.
Side skirts are attached to the rocker panels to improve the car’s aerodynamics and enhance its sporty appearance. However, when driving a lowered car, rocker panels and side skirts should be protected from potholes and speed bumps.
This was everything you need to know about a car rocker panel. Ensuring structural rigidity and vehicle appearance, it is among the most underrated car components. For more useful tips on maintaining car parts and extending their lifespan, read here.
From rocker panels to door hinges, carefully check every structural component when buying a used car in the UAE and choose wisely.
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