Thursday January 16 2014

Pocket dictionary : Fender, bumper

By Jude Katende

Growing up, we sometimes used to refer to car parts literally as to what we assumed was the right pronunciation. For instance, the mudguard was often referred to as mandigadi in Luganda. Poor pronunciation aside, we did not correctly get the actual part. What we called mandigadi (read mudguard) was in reality a fender.

That was then, but I am pretty sure some people up to now including some mechanics may still confuse not only these parts but many other car parts either because of their proximity with others or maybe because they (people) assume they look like that. There is also knowing the right part but then mispronouncing it and in the process misleading or confusing others.

Take for instance “wiper”, it is a simple English word referring to wiper blades used to keep the car’s windscreen clear in rain or foggy situations. It is derived from the verb-wipe, meaning to clean completely. In Luganda, some mechanics refer to it as “wipa (weepa/weeper)” and often confuse unsuspecting motorists. Add that to the fact that there is no actual Luganda equivalent. It is therefore safe to stick to English. Enough of the language lessons and back to the main topic.

Unlike in the past when we dwelt on one part, the proximity of all these parts necessitates that we look at all three at once. The fender, bumper and mudguards/mud flaps. refers to a fender as panel of a car which encloses the wheel area, especially the front wheels or a shield, usually of plastic or metal, on a bicycle that protects the rider from mud or water.

Fender is the American English term. In British English, the fender is called the wing (this usually only refers to the panels over the front wheel arches, in modern cars, since the rear ‘fenders’ are more an integral part of the car’s body shape). The fender’s primary purpose is to prevent sand, mud, rocks, liquids, and other road spray from being thrown into the air by the rotating tyre. Car fenders are usually in arch shape in line with the tyre’s circular shape.

Mud guards or mudflaps
Just below and often attached at the tail of the rear side of the fender is a mud flap also called mudguard. Like the name clearly suggests, these rubber and sometimes plastic square shaped pieces are meant to prevent dirt, mud and small rocks from damaging other parts of the car. Often driven at fast speeds and sometimes in challenging terrain, motor rally cars usually have bigger and longer flaps covering a large part of the rear fender.

A bumper is one most easily recognisable front and rear parts designed to allow the car sustain impact without damage to the vehicle’s safety systems. That said, bumpers are not designed to reduce injury to the vehicle’s occupants in a serious collision. They come in hard plastic, rubber and metallic material forms. On most cars, the front bumpers are closer to the fender than is the case with the rear bumpers.