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Fender Flares: What They Are and How to Make Them Work for You

Fender Flares: What They Are and How to Make Them Work for You

Fender flares are a popular automotive accessory. They enhance the aesthetics of your vehicle and serve practical purposes. Whether you own a rugged off-road vehicle or a stylish street car, understanding what fender flares are and how to install them can enhance your driving experience.

Today, we’re exploring everything you need to know about fender flares, from their purpose and how to install them to maintenance tips and tricks. Let’s dive in!

How To Install Pocket Style Fender Flares / 2015 Ram 2500 / Spec-D Tuning

What are Fender Flares? 

Before diving into the world of fender flares, it’s crucial to understand what they are.

Fender flares are extensions from the wheel well of a vehicle, typically plastic or fiberglass. They are designed to attach to the wheel arches of your vehicle and can be factory-installed or aftermarket. These flares extend beyond the wheel wells, giving your vehicle a wider and more aggressive appearance.

What are Fender Flares Used for?

People use fender flares for various reasons, but one of their primary functions is providing additional tire coverage. This is especially useful if you have oversized tires, as they can extend beyond the factory wheel arches. They help prevent road debris, mud, and water from splashing onto your vehicle, protecting the paint and bodywork from damage.

Overlanders and off-road enthusiasts often install these devices to accommodate larger off-road tires. These flares provide the necessary clearance for the tires to articulate without rubbing against the body of the vehicle. They also shield the vehicle from rocks and obstacles while off-roading.

These flares can also dramatically enhance the visual appeal of your vehicle. They can give your car or truck a more aggressive and rugged appearance, which is especially popular among travelers who want a customized look for their vehicles. They can also improve aerodynamics by reducing air turbulence around the wheels, which can lead to better fuel efficiency. 

Fender glares needed
See how these tire stick out, this can be very messy, damage your paint, and even be illegal. The tires throw lots of road debris, sand and, when offroad, rocks and mud around. They should be covered to prevent throwing this material into your own vehicle or others.

How Do I Know What Size Fender Flares I Need? 

Choosing the correct size is crucial to ensure they fit your vehicle properly and provide the desired coverage. To determine the size you need, start by measuring the gap between your fender and your tires. You can do this by placing the measuring tape on the outer edge of your tire, pulling the tape upward, and then bending it at a 90-degree angle until it’s flush with the fender. The number at the 90-degree bend will tell you the size fender you’ll need. When in doubt, go bigger than what you need. It will ensure you have enough coverage.

The size of fender flares can also vary depending on your vehicle type. Off-road trucks and SUVs may require larger flares to accommodate bigger tires, while smaller cars may need more modest flares for style and protection. If you’re unsure about the size you need, you can always consult your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

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Truck fender flares while overlanding
Our truck has oversized aftermarket flares to fit our tires.

How Do I Choose a Fender Flare? 

Once you’ve determined the size, you’ll need to choose the correct type of flare. There are several styles to consider, like pocket-style flares, street-style flares, and extended-style flares.

Pocket-style flares have a bold and rugged appearance, often with simulated rivets. They can give your vehicle a tough off-road look. These are especially popular for trucks with wide tires, and they can be extremely helpful with tire coverage. Street-style flares, on the other hand, have a smoother, more streamlined appearance that enhances the vehicle’s aesthetics. These are especially popular for sportscars. 

Next, there’s the extended-style flares. These flares offer maximum tire coverage and protection, making them ideal for off-roading. You often find these flares on Jeeps and lifted trucks, providing a rugged overlanding look. 

Fender flares also come in various materials. For example, plastic flares are lightweight, affordable, and easy to paint, while fiberglass flares are more durable and can withstand off-road abuse. In contrast, metal flares are the most robust and durable option. However, they can be heavy and expensive.

agressive fender flares
Extended flares are necessary for large tires

How to Install Fender Flares

Installing your flares can be a fun project if you have the necessary tools and skills. It can also save you some money by avoiding installation costs. First, you’ll need to gather the materials for the job. You’ll need the flares, mounting hardware, a drill, screwdriver, tape measure, and a washable car marker.

Before you start, remove any existing fender flares and clean the surface of your fenders. Next, align your fender flares and mark the area with your washable marker, ensuring that they provide the necessary tire coverage. Then, you’ll want to remove the adhesive backing from the fender flares and secure them to your vehicle in the marked area.

Once you securely mount your fender flares with the adhesive tape, it’s time to drill. Carefully drill through the holes on the flares into the wheel arches. Then, securely attach the flares to the wheel arches using the mounting hardware.

While this is an outline of the installation process, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Installation methods may vary between different models.

Pro Tip: Looking for a new overlanding rig? Check out these 11 Best Stock Trucks for Off-Roading Adventures.

Do Fender Flares Cause Rust?

One typical concern among vehicle owners is whether fender flares will cause rust. Typically, they do not cause rust, but improper installation and irregular maintenance can lead to rust issues. To prevent rust when using fender flares, follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully. Use corrosion-resistant hardware and seal any drilled holes correctly to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Furthermore, keep your vehicle and fender flares clean to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating in the crevices. Pay special attention to the area between the flare and the vehicle’s body. You could also consider applying rust prevention products to vulnerable areas of your vehicle, including the wheel arches.

off road fender flare
Add a pop of color to your truck by painting your fender flares a bold color.

How to Paint Fender Flares

If you want your fender flares to match your vehicle’s color, you’ll be happy to know that you can paint them yourself. You’ll need automotive paint, primer, sandpaper, and a clear coat. Clean the fender flares thoroughly to remove any dirt or grease. You can also sand the surface lightly to create a rough texture for better paint adhesion.

Then apply a high-quality automotive primer to the flares. This helps the paint adhere better and provides a smooth surface for the topcoat. After the primer dries, it’s time to paint. Apply multiple thin coats of automotive paint, allowing each coat to dry between applications. Use wide sweeping motions when spraying to help apply even coats and avoid unwanted build-up in certain areas. Once the paint is dry, you can apply a clear coat, which will help protect the finish and give it a glossy look. 

Last but not least, allow the paint and clear coat to cure fully according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This may take a few days. After the paint cures, you can install the fender flares on your vehicle.

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Are Fender Flares a Good Idea? 

Fender flares are versatile after-market accessories that can provide practical and aesthetic benefits for your vehicle. If you choose the correct size, style, and material, and properly install and maintain them, you can reap the benefits of fender flares for years. You’ll have a better driving experience with fewer dings on your vehicle, and enhance your aesthetic. 

Would you install fender flares on your vehicle? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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