Every component plays a significant role in protecting a car’s structural sustainability and safety. The rocker panel is one such component. But this may begin to deteriorate over time from extensive use or collisions from road debris.
In that case, can you drive without rocker panels? Yes, you can, but it is strongly discouraged. It supports the car’s weight and shields the passengers from side collisions. Without rocker panels, the car’s body is prone to harm from gravel and debris that the wheels kick up.
In this article, we will discuss the significance of rocker panels, the dangers of driving without them, and the effects of doing so.
Why Is It Not Advisable To Drive Without Rocker Panels?
Your car’s rocker panel is a crucial structural element, and its major function is to support and protect the body of the vehicle and its occupants.
According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the incidence of injuries and fatalities was actually lower in cars with undamaged rocker panels than in those with cracked or missing panels.
Thus, it is not advised to drive without rocker panels for a number of reasons, such as:
1. Safety risks
Your car’s rocker panel is normally made of steel or aluminum and is intended to withstand impacts from road debris and severe weather. A study found that using carbon fiber material in rocker panels increased their weight-reduction and bending performance by 40.7%.
The absence of a rocker panel makes the car’s frame weaker and prone to collapse in the event of a crash. This might lead to more serious injuries or even death for the driver and other passengers.
2. Lead to buildup rust
You cause serious damage to your car’s body every time you drive without a rocker panel. The rocker panel in your car shields the car’s frame and undercarriage from debris, water, and other hazards on the road.
When you drive without rocker panels, the undercarriage of your car may rust and corrode, which can weaken the vehicle’s structure and compromise its safety.
83-year-old Elizabeth Ibey was involved in a car accident in July 2014, and according to DMV Detective Charland, the vehicle’s rocker panel had considerable rust, corrosion, and deterioration. This weakened the car’s structural durability, making it less able to resist a front-end impact.
3. Difficult to drive safely
The rocker panel serves as a stable base for the suspension system and aids in evenly dispersing the weight of the car.
Without it, the vehicle could get out of balance, creating hazardous driving conditions and putting more strain on other car components.
4. In several states, driving without rocker panels is prohibited-
Driving without a rocker panel is illegal in various states. You risk receiving fines or other consequences if you are spotted driving without rocker panels. This is because it’s considered a safety hazard that can put other drivers on the road at risk.
5. Harm your car’s structure
The structure of your car is supported by the rocker panels that join the front and back wheel wells.
When rocker panels are missing or broken, the car’s frame is more susceptible to dents, scratches, and other damage. This can cause structural damage that could jeopardize the car’s overall performance and safety.
6. Raises maintenance costs
Without rocker panels, the exposed metal beneath the vehicle is more susceptible to deterioration from moisture, wear and strain. And other external variables, which can eventually lead to corrosion.
This may require more frequent upkeep and expensive repairs to avoid further damage.
Perks Of Driving Your Car With Properly Functioning Rocker Panels
The benefits of the rocker panel go beyond simple support and protection, making it a crucial part of your car’s design and safety. Hence, it is essential for all car owners to know the potential advantages of rocker panels. The benefits are listed in the table below-
Offers the car’s frame more stability
|The rocker panel supports the body of the car by uniformly distributing weight|
|It guards against collisions||In the case of a collision, the rocker panel helps to lessen the force of collision and shields you from outside objects|
|Enhances the aerodynamics of the car||By reducing air turbulence near the wheels, it enhances the vehicle’s aerodynamics and fuel economy|
|Provides a stylish look||Rocker panels come in a wide range of colors and materials, giving your car a stylish appearance|
|Helps to reduce road noise||A working rocker panel can reduce road noise by preventing airflow via gaps or cracks in the car’s body|
How to Replace A Broken Rocker Panel?
Although replacing a rocker panel can take a while, you can do it yourself and save some money if the damage is not severe. We have simplified the steps below for your convenience and clear understanding.
Step 1: Cut out the damaged rocker panel carefully using a cutting tool such as a saw or cutting wheels. Put on hand gloves, then clean out any leftover debris or parts to make room for the replacement panel.
Step 2: Then, using a measuring tape, determine the new panel’s size and shape. You must make sure the replacement panel is properly fashioned to fit the car’s body contours.
Step 3: Next, start attaching the new rocker panel to the car’s body by welding it together with a welding machine and welding wire. Make sure you establish a good weld along the whole length of the panel by starting at one end and working your way to the other.
Step 4: Seal any gaps or apertures in the replacement rocker panel after firmly fastening and correctly positioning it. Afterward, to improve the appearance of your car, apply a fresh coat of car paint.
Step 5: At the end, perform one last inspection. And then drive your car to make sure the replacement panel does not cause any unusual vibrations or affect the overall performance and stability of your vehicle.
Watch this YouTube video to get a clear picture of this process.If you’re curious about driving without rocker panels and its implications, MotorAdvices provides valuable insights and information on various automotive topics. While it’s important to understand the safety considerations associated with driving without rocker panels, you may also find our article on driving without a radiator cap informative. This article delves into the role of the radiator cap in maintaining the proper functioning of the cooling system. Additionally, our article on driving a car with a broken shifter cable provides valuable insights into the potential issues and precautions associated with this component. By exploring these resources, you can gain a better understanding of various automotive concerns and make informed decisions for your vehicle.
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding a car’s rocker panels.
It’s critical to remember that preventing rocker panel damage is the best course of action. Your rocker panels can last longer with regular maintenance, including cleaning and corrosion prevention.
While it is not recommended, it can be feasible to temporarily drive your car without rocker panels in extreme emergency conditions.
Due to their position near the bottom of the car, they are susceptible to corrosion because of exposure to salt, moisture, and debris. Moreover, rust may develop if the metal of your car’s rocker panel becomes exposed as a result of chipped painting.
To sum up, your car’s rocker panels are a crucial part of its structural design since they protect the body, support the frame, and keep the undercarriage from corroding. As a result, driving a car without rocker panels is typically not advised because it puts the car’s safety and durability at risk.
Therefore, it is recommended to have any damaged or missing rocker panels on your car fixed or replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage and prolong the life of the car. If you are not experienced in performing automotive repairs, you must consult with a mechanic to complete the repair.