Fender Upgrade: Cut JK Fender Flares

May 10, 2017

If you’re looking for an easy way to take the look of your Jeep to the next level, look no further than your stock fender flares! Aftermarket fender flares, or even cut stock flares, totally change the stance of your rig and make it look like you’ve got more lift, at low cost to you. Plus, fender flares are something you can easily change out yourself. I recently acquired new-to-me cut fender flares from Ryan, one of the sales guys at Northridge 4x4, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result! (Many thanks, Ryan!!)

 

 

As with every Jeep venture so far, this was a learning experience for me. I’d never taken off fender flares before and heard it was easy, but here are some tips and things I learned.

 

First, I watched some videos to figure out where the fender clips were, how the fender flares attached to the Jeep, how the liners came out, and so forth. This video is good, and this one also, but there are a ton out there if you search. (Both of these videos show cutting the stock flares also – but the flares I put on were already cut so I was just looking for info on take-off and fender liner trimming).

 

Rear flares were removed first since they’re easier with no bolts to take off (just fender clips). Basically you just pull them off your Jeep with tremendous force – there’ll be a super loud ripping noise (but it’s ok!) and the fender flares plus the fender liners come right off. (Note: the tubing that was in the fender flare in this photo is specific to my AEV water bumper).

 

 

Removing the front flares - the aforementioned videos explain how they’re attached, and how to remove them better than I can. I do want to emphasize, though, the importance of using a fender liner with your front fender flares. The liner protects the inner mechanics of the Jeep from rocks, water, mud, salt, etc. and the liner should also cover the hole in the Jeep body that’s behind the front tires. Make sure this area is covered or debris will collect in there and rust will develop sooner than you’d like. In addition to the fender liner, there’s a sturdy support piece that should be retained under the front fender flares (unless you're putting on aftermarket flares that don't flex). You’ll need to trim that down to an appropriate width for your new cut fender flare, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s a photo of the stock liner plus support that’s under my front fender flares, shown pre-trimming.

 

 

 

When the stock flares were removed paint scratches were visible, and if your Jeep’s any color other than black (and if you’re putting on black fender flares) consider painting the wheel well and area where the fender flares will be placed. Not only does this impart a cleaner look, it also protects against further paint chipping and rusting. We used Rust-oleum Bedliner Spray but any spray paint of your choice will work. Taping off the area to be painted is essential, then spray and let dry.

 

 

For the rear fender area, I opted to paint the whole thing with the bedliner spray, instead of re-using the rear fender liners. That area is all enclosed anyway, and painting it was much easier.

 

 

Then came the all-important part – trimming the front stock liners and support (if re-using those). Watch the aforementioned videos for ideas on how to do this – but ultimately you’ll have to decide how much to trim off the liner and off the support so that your new flares look good with the stock liner. I used a sawzall to cut my liners and supports, then smoothed them out with a wood file. One word of advice is to start cutting off less, then try the flares with the support to see how it looks. More can be cut off if needed.

 

 

When I tried my flares with the support after the initial trimming I found there was still too much of the support visible.

 

So, I chopped off another 1.5 inches (there was still plenty of support left to provide structure for the flare) and then it was perfect with the flare on. Yes, this is more work and if I do this again on future Jeeps I’ll know where to cut initially, but the first time trying anything is always a learning experience!

 

 

Lastly, if you want to re-install the front side lights, hook them back up and fasten under the fender flares. You'll have to find an appropriate place and bolt, push clip, or zip tie to secure.

 

 

Then we have the before and after!

 

Thanks for reading, and Jeep on!

 

 

 

 

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