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bushwacker fender

 

First a couple opening words about this article:

Taste is a subjective topic, and the designs I like the most might be your least favorite, conversely a feature you love might be something I suggest avoiding. I'll be talking about design and critiquing minute details in these various offerings. If your needs, priorities, and most of all tastes are different from mine feel free to disagree.

I have split this article into two pages, the first page is all metal fenders, and this page is all non-metallic fenders.

The Contenders

 


Jeep High Top

Did you know that Mopar offers a high clearance version of their stock fender flare? Me neither, but they do, and they're called High Top Fenders.

jeep high top fender1
Factory style with more clearance.

jeep high top fender2
Notice the cut-out for the gas cap/door access.

The 4 door version is part number 77072342AB and the 2 door version is 77072341AB. They mount to the same locations the stock flares mount and are paintable. According to Jeep you can run 35" tires with these flares without a lift and 37's with a 2" lift. There is no mention made about the fender liner. The MSRP is $795.00 in the 2015 Jeep Performance Parts Catalog. I couldn't find instructions on line.

Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
A Little ? No ? Yes Black

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MCE

MCE offers "flexible" plastic fenders in a range of colors and finishes. MCE fenders are the only fenders I've found that do not fasten to the factory fender support bracket, which allows them to bend in ways others can not. However not being fastened to the bracket might allow the fenders to wiggle and vibrate while driving at highway speeds. To prevent this MCE provides an adjustable tensioner that mounts to the factory fender support bracket. The tensioner pushes up against the fender to give it some preload to reduce highway wiggle and keep the fender from sagging. There is also a bracket at the front that supports the fender which can be unfastened for off-road use to allow the fender to move when necessary.


Flexible fenders gives you three advantages over rigid plastic fenders:

mce front fender2
The MCE fenders have a great fit.
mce fenders texture
Here you can see the mounting flange and the textured finish.

 

MCE offeres their flares in textured black (above), high-gloss faux brushed aluminum Silver Edition, and in high-gloss faux carbon fiber.

mce silver
The high gloss brushed aluminum look.
mce carbon fiber
The high gloss carbon fiber look.

 

MCE flares are made in America and have a lifetime warranty against cracking. Price for a set of four fenders is $753 for textured black, $689 for Silver edition, and $803 for carbon fiber. MCE has instructions on their website but inexplicably they are in Word format. To spare you from the hell that is dealing with Word documents I have converted them to pdf. Here are the MCE front fender installation instructions and here are the MCE rear fender installation instructions

Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
Yes Modify
Factory
Liner
No No Yes Black
Silver
Carbon Fiber

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Bushwacker

Bushwacker has 2 styles of plastic fender flares for the Jeep Wrangler to choose from, Pocket Style and Flat Style. The Pocket Style flares are available in two widths, their "Max Coverage" which has 11.75" tire coverage in the front and 6.75" in the rear, and their "Factory Coverage" which has 9.5" front and 4.75" rear. The Flat Style is offered in only one size, 9.5" front coverage and 4.75" rear. Bushwacker has different rear fenders depending on whether you have a 2 door and 4 door Jeep, which is highly unusual.

bushwacker fender max
Bushwacker max coverage fenders.
bushwacker fender factory
Bushwacker factory coverage fenders.
bushwacker fender flat
Bushwacker flat fenders.

With the pocket style flairs you retain most of the factory fender liner and do not need to drill any holes. This means that this fender package should be very good if corrosion is a concern. The reason most other fenders require the inner liner to be trimmed is because the liner limits the tire travel, therefore it can be assumed that the pocket style fender does not provide as much room for wheel articulation as other fenders that require the inner liner to be trimmed away.

The Bushwacker Flat Style flares do require that the fender liner be cut away outboard of the body sheet metal. The outside edge of the Flat Style flares is considerably higher than the Pocket Style flare allowing for larger tires and more articulation.

Like the pocket flares the flat flare uses concealed mounting blocks that are first mounted to the Jeep, then the flares are attached to the blocks. All Buchwacker flares have integral side-marker lights, and they all have adhesive gaskets all around to keep crap from getting between the flare and the body. On the flat style flare I think this gasket also helps keep the flare in positions, which gives me a little apprehension, but that design also means there are no visible fasteners, which makes for a very nice looking installation.

bushwacker fender cutaway
Bushwacker flat fender cutaway.

This is a very detailed install video for Bushwacker flat flares. It looks very tedious with a lot of adhesive-lined gaskets to deal with.

After looking at the installation instructions and the video I think it's fair to say that the Bushwacker flares are not designed for hardcore trail use. The flare material has some flexibility but Bushwacker uses double wall construction which adds rigidity. This creates leverage for screws to get ripped out and gasket adhesive ripped loose when pushed on hard enough. Bushwacker flares also lack any kind of bracing to reinforce the body sheet metal and all the mounting blocks are plastic. Taking this into account I'd avoid making too much contact with any trail obstacles.

Bushwacker Pocket Flares flares are about $770 for a set of 4 and the Flat Style flares are about $620 a set. Installation instructions for the Pocket Flares are here and instructions for the Flat Style flares are here.

Bushwacker Pocket Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No Modify
Factory
Liner
No Yes Yes Black
Bushwacker Flat-Style Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No Modify
Factory
Liner
No Yes Yes Black


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Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge has 2 styles of plastic fender flares for the Jeep Wrangler to choose from, the All-Terrain Flat Top Flare and the Hurricane Flat Flare. Both fenders come in black but can be painted. For instructions on painting them look at the instructions for the All-Terrain Flat Flare because for some reason they don't have the painting instructions included in the Hurricane instructions.

 

Hurricane Flares

The Hurricane flare features a double-screw pocket design that is purely decorative, they supply two sets of little screws (black and stainless steel) that don't go thru to the fender. Drilling is required for installation.

rugged ridge hurricane fender1
Rugged Ridge Hurricane fenders.
rugged ridge hurricane fender2
Rugged Ridge Hurricane front fender with black pocket screws.

The Hurricane flares are about $700 for a set of four. Instructions are here.

All-Terrain Flat Top Flares

Rugged Ridge did a terrible job naming their All-Terrain Flat Top Flares, they are not flat in any direction, they have a contour to them. I think that is a good thing because I think true flat fenders look out of place on a JK, these Rugged Ridge flares look great. They are paintable, install without drilling, and have a matching inner fender liner available which makes them an excellent choice if corrosion is a concern. These flares (like all plastic flares I've found) mount only to the Jeep sheet metal so if you run hardcore trails these may not be the flares to have. They look like they may be relatively flexible but I have yet to see them first hand to know.

On the downside, these flares have mostly negative reviews on Amazon and other places I've looked. At the time of this writing 57% of the reviewers gave them just 1 star. Yikes!

If you like the look of these Rugged Ridge flares you might want to consider just trimming the factory flares. Check out this video and look at the finished product, it's virtually free, fairly easy, and the look is not far off from the Rugged Ridge Flat-top flares.


rugged ridge flat fender red
Rugged Ridge flat fenders have a nice contour.
rugged ridge flat fender underside
View of relocated side marker and fender liner.
rugged ridge flat fender liner
Rugged Ridge fender liners for the All-Terain Flat Fender Flares.

The Rugged Ridge All-Terrain Flat Fenders are about $850 with fender liners and $470 without. Instructions for the flares are here and for the fender liners here.

Rugged Ridge Hurricane Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No Modify
Factory
Liner
Yes No Yes Black
Rugged Ridge Flat-Style Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No Custom Liner
Available
No No Yes Black


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Wild Boar

Wild Boar offers a wide-body fender flare made of fiberglass. They are 2" wider and 4.5" higher than the stock flares providing room for 35" tires without a lift. They mount in the original factory fender mounting holes, include a side marker light, and can be ordered in textured black, shinny grey, or bare gel coat ready for custom finishing.

wild boar fender1
wild boar fender2

Those sure look pretty but you'll have to take care with fiberglass on the trail. Price is $775 but I'm sure the finish you request might effect that. I couldn't find instructions for them on line.

Wild Boar Fiberglass Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No ? ? ? Yes Textured Black
Shinny Grey
Bare Gelcoat


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Genright

Carbon Fiber Fenders?

genright carbon fiber fender1
genright carbon fiber fender2
No need to paint these beauties.

Here is a unique product from Genright, a fender made of carbon fiber. They look fantastic! However, besides being awesome looking and super light, carbon fiber is a terrible material to build a Jeep fender out of. Carbon fiber fails catastrophically when it is bent beyond it's ability to flex, which isn't much. If you are building a Jeep for show, they're great, but if you plan to actually take your Jeep off-road, you need to know that if you bump a rock with these, they will most likely fracture. The amazing looking fenders are pricey at $1,100 for the fronts, and $1,100 for rears. I'm not including these in the comparison since they are not really practical for most people who do trail riding.

Wild Boar Fiberglass Flares
Flexible Fender
Liner
Drilling
Required
Seal or
Gasket
Paintable Finishes
Available
No Reuse
Factory
Yes ? Yes Unpainted


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Honorable Mentions

 

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© 2016 Mike Riley

Category: Article