Where Is the Quarter Panel on a Car?

Dustin Hawley | Feb 15, 2021

Modern vehicles are equipped with a variety of different panels that make up their bodies or exterior chassis. Understanding what these panels are, where they go, and what they do is vital if you need to perform maintenance or repairs on your vehicle; or plan to undertake a restoration project for a car you want to fix up.

what is a quarter panel

Panels make up some of the most fundamental structural elements of a car’s body, and one that is essential is the quarter panel. But where is the quarter panel, and what is it responsible for? 

Quarter Panel Location

Your car has two quarter panels, both of which are located at the rear of your vehicle.

Your car’s rear quarter panels can be found right between your rear door and the trunk or bed (depending on whether you have a standard car or a truck). Seams or bolts usually mark the panels, so identification should only take a couple of seconds. There’s one panel per side, and the quarter panels usually extend above and around your rear wheels.

You might be able to quickly locate your quarter panel due to the wear and tear they often endure. Because of its location (right above and around your wheels), quarter panels accrue a lot of dirt and debris over time. They are also common locations for impact damage in minor accidents or fender benders.

Why Are Quarter Panels Important?

Quarter panels are among the most critical parts of your car’s chassis for a couple of significant reasons. But why?

Aesthetics

For starters, your quarter panels are vital pieces of your chassis and can influence how the rear of your vehicle looks. They are the character and defining shape of your vehicle's tail's sides.

 If they’re angular, your vehicle will have a sharper form, and if they are softer, your vehicle will look a little curvier or organic.

Since they are both functional and esthetic, you should regularly clean your quarter panels due to their exposure to extra dirt, debris, and even exhaust oil, as mentioned above. Dirty quarter panels, even as the only visible parts of a car with grease and debris, can make your vehicle appear dirty and less visually appealing.

Support

Your car’s quarter panels also provide significant support for the rest of your chassis’ structure. They support the back trunk panel of your vehicle and the other rear panels that may comprise your car’s trunk or truck bed, as well as the rear fender/bumper.

Protection

Lastly, quarter panels protect the other panels surrounding them, including your rear wheels, by acting as a physical barrier. They help prevent dirt and debris from being thrown into the rear undercarriage of your car and protect surrounding panels from oil smears or road tar.

Replacing Quarter Panels

As we began to outline, it’s pretty clear that quarter panels take a heavy beating all the time.

  • When driving, your rear wheels often throw up dirt, road tar, dead bugs, and other debris straight onto your quarter panels. This stuff can build up over time and grind its way into the paint, eventually breaking down even a coat of wax or car sealant.
  • Furthermore, at least one of your quarter panels is exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations on a regular basis. The panel above your car’s exhaust pipe is exposed to extreme heat whenever your vehicle is running, which can cause the metal to warp during the winter, as intense cold clashes with the heat. In fact, the heat itself can eventually melt the panel or damage the paint on top of it.
  • As mentioned before, quarter panels are commonly damaged in minor accidents. Since they’re located near the back bumpers, they’re frequently dented or crushed when one car impacts another from behind. 

Because of these and many other reasons, people find themselves having to replace their quarter panels more often than other sections of their car (like a bumper, for example).

Fortunately for drivers, quarter panels sometimes come in multiple sections. For instance, your car may be equipped with both upper and lower quarter panels that can be taken apart or replaced independently. Determine whether your vehicle has a single piece or upper and lower quarter panels when assessing if a replacement panel is necessary, so you don't pay more than you have to. Only one piece will need to be repaired or replaced in some situations, saving you money on replacing the entire panel.

Should You Repair Quarter Panels?

Though we have outlined many elements of a quarter panel, and while you may be able to repair them in practice, it’s not usually recommended. 

Remember, quarter panels are necessary for your vehicle’s overall structural integrity. Welding or otherwise adjusting damaged steel on such an integral component of your car is generally risky and may result in a subpar panel that can’t support your car or truck’s rear weight.

It’s best practice to simply get your quarter panel(s) replaced if they become damaged in an accident or other hazards. Plus, new quarter panels will look a lot better than ones that have an opportunity to be hastily repaired or welded back into shape.

A replacement quarter panel won't usually cost you too much, either. You can often find smaller or upper/lower quarter panels for as low as $50. Larger or more extensive quarter panels may run you between $100-$1000 depending on the material used, their total size, and the paint job required to make the panel match with the rest of your vehicle. If this is the case, you must decide if the cost is worth the benefit and make a determination that is best suited to your needs.

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