Ah, the lowly fender cover. It was born with a single life mission: to protect the painted surface of a front fender from nicks and scratches while underhood work is being performed.
However, this innocent piece of rubber, foam or cloth is often abused and neglected. It wants to be loyal and to do its job, but is often mistreated or misused. In far too many cases, the cover is tossed about the shop like an old rag doll, picking up dirt, grit, grease and other fluids, then plopped onto a fender, with the assumption that it’ll do its job.
The top surface of a fender is exposed to temporary tool storage, the pressure and wiggling of elbows and the ever-present damage that can be caused by drips of glycol brake fluid. The sides and upper edges face the scuffing and dinging dangers of belt buckles and pants zippers.
Let’s do our part to help. Before placing any type of protective cover onto a customer’s fender, first carefully clean the fender to remove any dust, road grime, bird doo-doo, etc. Then inspect the fender cover (whether a brand-name dedicated fender cover or an old blanket that was enlisted to serve) for cleanliness. If the fender and the underside of the cover aren’t clean, we just end up rubbing grit into the paint.
Also, consider that a fender cover does not shield the fender like a suit of armor. Its job is to prevent scuffing. Just because we lay it onto a fender, remember that the fender itself (in the majority of cases) is thin sheet metal. Supporting our body weight on our elbows can easily deform, warp or even dent the fender. The cover can’t prevent this, as it simply hides the damage.
It’s time to treat fenders and fender covers with the respect they deserve. If we all do our part, customers will thank us. Like a puppy that wants to serve us as a loyal companion, the fender cover can’t meet our expectations if it isn’t well cared for.
Beyond its utilitarian function, use of a clean fender cover is a representation of our attention to detail and a concern for the customer’s property. It’s an iconic part of a shop’s image. ■
Editor’s note: In our last issue, we ran a profile on Updated Automotive Service in North Royalton, Ohio, featuring owner Bill Caroniti. A photo of Bill and his wife, Laurie, appeared on our contents page, but Bill wants us to stress that she is the true “star of the show.” Bill credits her with managing the shop’s office operation, allowing Bill and his crew to concentrate on customer repairs and service.
Send us fender cover photos, just for fun
We welcome you to send us photos of your favorite fender covers, unique fender covers, and/or the nastiest, worn-out fender covers lying around your shop. We’ll highlight the photos on www.autoserviceprofessional.com, with your name and shop name. We think everyone will get a kick out of it!
To read more of Mike Mavrigian's editorials, see: