Fender is the American English term for the part of an automobile, motorcycle or other vehicle body that frames a wheel well. Its primary purpose is to prevent sand, mud, rocks, liquids, and other road spray from being thrown into the air by the rotating tire. Fenders are typically rigid and can be damaged by contact with the road surface. Instead, flexible mud flaps are used close to the ground where contact may be possible.
Sticky materials such as mud may adhere to the smooth outer tire surface, while smooth loose objects such as stones can become temporarily embedded in the tread grooves as the tire rolls over the ground. These materials can be ejected from the surface of the tire at high velocity as the tire imparts kinetic energy to the attached objects. For a vehicle moving forward, the top of the tire is rotating upward and forward, and can throw objects into the air at other vehicles or pedestrians in front of the vehicle.