Flat fender flares were always on the list for our Jeep build. We wanted to increase the approach angle, departure angle and tire clearance of the Jeep.
Enter Bushwacker, an Oregon based company that makes fender flares, bedrail & tailgate caps, bumper protection, and trail armor. We were aware of their reputation for producing impact absorbing, extremely flexible fender flares made with complete UV protection (great because you see faded flares on stock Jeeps everywhere). The Bushwacker fender flares are backed with a lifetime warranty against warping or cracking which is pretty impressive for a TPO flare. We were extremely excited when Bushwacker offered to sponsor our Jeep Build.
I decided to go with the Bushwacker Flat Style Fender Flares, Part #10919-07. After an initial run through the instructions, I was impressed with how much engineering went into these flares. All of the tolerances involved have to be pretty precise for the flares to fit snugly over their inner mounting pieces and flush with the vehicle’s fender surface.
Diving into the install, the first step was to stick the edge trim to the top edge of all the flares. The red vinyl backing covers the adhesive that will eventually stick to the fender surface.
As per the instructions, I started with the driver side front fender flare. I removed the few bolts that held the stock splash shield to the underside of the wheel well. Then amazingly, I just pulled the splash shield/fender flare assembly away from the fender. It comes off much easier than you would think, however, get ready for some popping noises and the breaking of a few clips.
Next, I slid speed clips over the holes of the inner mounting pieces. You can easily align the clips over the holes by using an “awl” type tool.
The inner mounting pieces bolt around the circumference of the fender opening.
It is necessary to reinstall the stock splash shield to protect the wide open area under the front wheel well. The splash shield must be removed from the stock fender flare and (2) pieces trimmed away for it to match up with the Bushwacker flares.
The Bushwacker Flat Style Fender Flares come with LED side marker lights that must be bolted on and then connected to the factory wires. Get an extra set of hands to help with this part. Be sure to test the light before installing the flare (yes, I forgot to check it on one side). If the light fails to come on, reverse the wires, even if that means you will be going black to white and white to black. Power will only run one way through LEDs.
The fender flares slide over the inner mounting pieces. They are held in place by screws that go through the holes in the flare into the speed clips on the inner mounting pieces. It can be a little challenging to line up all of the holes involved. I recommend using a flash light, an awl to find the holes, and in my case, reading glasses. It is also helpful to have another person push the flare against the fender while you are installing the screws (I had Art from T&A Offroad and later my wife and daughter perform that task – a great help).
What a difference – Bushwacker to stock.
With the rear stock splash shield, instead of removing mounting bolts, you must remove plastic fasteners. I highly recommend cutting off the heads of these fasteners and pushing the remaining fastener piece out of the hole with an awl. The fasteners are not needed at any future point in time.
Now onto the fun part of pulling the stock splash shield/fender flare assembly away from the fender.
I am going to use Rhino Linings inside the rear wheel well, so I skipped the steps necessary to modify the stock splash shield to match up with the Bushwacker flare (this procedure is done much like it was with the front splash shield, described above). After the speed clips are slid over the rear inner mounting pieces, the mounting pieces are attached (primarily with plastic push retainers) to the circumference around the fender opening.
Just like in the front, the fender flares slide over the inner mounting pieces. They are held in place by screws that go through the holes in the flare into the speed clips on the inner mounting pieces. Check out the difference between Bushwacker and stock:
The final step of the install involves pulling the red vinyl backing from behind the edge trim on each flare. The adhesive on the edge trim will now come into contact with the vehicle’s fender. Bushwacker even includes a small plastic tool which is used to push against the edge trim to help it adhere well. The edge trim is a small detail that makes a huge difference in the final appearance of the flares.
The Bushwacker Flat Style Fender Flares gave the Jeep a much edgier look while meeting all of the goals we were after above. The flares cover the tires more than I expected, 9.5″ in front and 4.75″ in rear. The most surprising thing, however, was how sturdy the flares feel on the vehicle. They are really on there! All of your weight will not move them what-so-ever.
We can’t wait to see how the Rhino Lining, aftermarket wheels and off road tires look with the flares. I will provide an update to this post once those projects are complete. Thank you Bushwacker for a fantastic addition to our build!