Non-Metallic Fender Round-Up
A collection of all the noteable non-metallic fenders for the Jeep JK. This article is from 2016 so obviously things have changed since than.
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.
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.
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? Maybe a little but I wouldn’t want to test it.
Fender Liner? Unknown but my gut tells me yes
Drilling required? No!
Seal or gasket? Unknown
Available Finishes? Black
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:
- They wont self-destruct on impact.
- They transfer less energy to the Jeep sheet metal, reducing the chances of getting sheet metal damage.
- They are less likely to rip the mounting screws out of the sheet metal if something does come in contact with them.
MCE flares are made in America and have a lifetime warranty against cracking. Price for a set of four fenders (as of 2016) 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.
Fender Liner? Yes, modify factory liner
Drilling required? No
Seal or gasket? No
Available Finishes? Textured black, gloss brushed aluminum, gloss carbon fiber
Updated Jan. 2024
Bushwacker has 3 styles of plastic fender flares for the Jeep Wrangler to choose from, Pocket Style, Flat Style, and the for the JL owners, the very sleek Hyperform. (There is also the Bushwacker Trail Armor Fender Flare Delete Kit, which technically is still a fender sort of. Like the Hyperform, it’s JL only.)
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.
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.
Bushwacker Flat Style
Above is an installation video for the Flat Style fender flares. It looks a little tedious with a lot of adhesive-lined gaskets to deal with but there doesn’t appear to be any drilling into the sheet metal, so that’s good.
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.
This is a very sleek fender, maintaining the design cues of the stock JL fender but adding about 2″ of clearance. They are made of matte black paintable UV resistant ABS thermoplastic which Bushwacker claims is flexible enough to survive impacts on the trail or kicked-up debris. The fronts feature DOT approved running lights that double as directionals (which have this cool sequential lighting pattern, where they start lighting at the inside edge and work their way outward until fully lit). Drilling and cutting is required. These are made in Buford, Georgia, USA!
Instructions for the Bushwacker Hyperform are here.
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.
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.
Instructions for the Rugged Ridge Hurricane Fender Flares 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 (2024) 44% of the reviewers gave them LESS than 5 stars. When I first wrote this article in 2016 56% of reviews were just 1 star! It’s improved over time but I would expect these to be less than perfect based on the current reviews.
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 All-Terrain Flat Top Flares.
The Rugged Ridge All-Terrain Flat Fender Flares are about $350 on Amazon without liners. Instructions for the Rugged Ridge All-Terrain Flat Fender Flares are here and the instructions for the fender liners are here.
Updated January 2024: I don’t think these are made anymore. I can’t even find a website for Wild Boar products.
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.
Updated January 2024: I don’t think these are made anymore. I can’t find them on their website anymore.
Lund makes some fucking ugly fenders.
Xenon makes more fender flares than I can shack a stick at. Some are so ugly they should be ashamed, some are totally fine looking.