What is a Bumper Valance?

Categories: Engine, Performance

The Definition Behind A Bumper Valance

Valance panels can be trimmed to direct airflow or body panels under bumpers. We cover a few variations here and help you find the replacements you need.

You may have heard the term “bumper valance” or “valance panel,” but you’re not sure. In non-automotive applications, the dictionary defines a valance as a piece of material that hangs loosely from a bed, table or shelf to hide what is underneath for decorative purposes. So how does it relate to an automobile?

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Valance Panels Location

Valance panels can be found on cars and trucks from almost any era at the front and / or rear. Depending on the aerodynamic efficiency of the car manufacturer, a valance panel can be a narrow trim piece that is placed low to direct airflow in the same way as an air dam. Or a valance panel can be a larger piece with a built-in airflow lip at the bottom.

In some cases, a vehicle may even have two separate panels on the front or rear – one for the passenger side and one for the driver side. These are only partial parts and do not typically cover the vehicle’s entire width. Instead, they can only be placed on the corners. Valance panels are also referred to as “bumper valances,” “lower valance panels,” “lower bumper trim plates” or “front lips.”

Valance panels do not improve aerodynamics in some cases. They may be simple cover pieces that conceal areas below the level of the otherwise exposed bumper (or bumper cover). This would effectively cover the lower part of the radiator on the front and protect it. The gap between dual exhaust pipes located on opposite corners of the vehicle could be bridged by a valance panel in the rear.

Materials Used for Valance Panels

Valance panels usually consist of the same materials as the bumpers of a vehicle – but not always. An older vehicle with steel bumpers, for example, is more likely to have steel valance panels. However, on later vehicles built with exposed steel and chrome bumpers, plastic valance panels are not uncommon. If you look at a new vehicle with plastic bumper covers, however, it is a sure bet that the valance panels are made of plastic as well.

Driving over speed bumps, angled driveways, potholes and a host of other road irregularities can easily damage valance panels positioned low to the ground. And even if you don’t have a low-hanging valance panel, rock hits, parking lot stops and other mistakes can still dent or crack it.

Valance panels are essentially sheet metal body panels on older vehicles that need to be removed and replaced with automotive bodywork experience. On new vehicles, swapping on a new valance panel with pieces made of plastic is simply a question of bolting on a new trim piece.

If the replacement valance is metal, and you’re performing a full-on restoration, we’re presuming that the entire body will be professionally shot with paint all at the same time. On a newer vehicle where it’s easier to remove and replace a plastic bumper cover, you may want to consider tackling the job yourself and trying to do the paint work.