Let’s face it: when people get that insatiable itch to start modding their 4x4s, some just unavoidably end up looking better and have more meaning than others.
Body mods, in particular, are at the top of that list. Of course, everyone’s entitled to outfit their rig any way that they (and their wallet) see fit; but there’s a huge difference between a mod that begs, “Why in the world did you do that?” and one that affirms, “I know exactly why you did that.”
Fender area mods fall solidly within the group that can be every bit as meaningful as they are visually impressive, but it starts with a vision of precisely where the mod is headed and using the best quality products to make it happen. If you can bring those two aspects together properly, no one’s going to wonder why you did.
A Flare for Modding
Slapping larger tyres on your 4×4 will naturally increase the amount of debris you’ll kick up when you’re driving. If you’re lucky, you won’t ruin your own paint job (too quickly) because of that extra rubber ploughing up loose gravel on the street; but it’ll only take one errant bit of gravel to shatter the windscreen of the vehicle behind you. That’s why fender flares have to go on when the tyre sizes go up – and why it’s important for you to look for the retailer who’s stocking the best flares on the market.
What you’ll discover out there will be a lineup of extra-durable, ABS moulded and UV-stabilized flares for practically any 4×4 you can expect to find in Australia – from faithful old FJ Landcruisers to sleek new Everests – with every bit of flair that a flare could offer.
Bolt-on flares are the only way to go. If you’re serious about putting the best on your 4×4, then forget the flimsy, Saturday morning stick-ons that’ll fade in a few months … right before they start to peel off. Bolt-on flares are in a league all their own, and the best ones mount to your vehicle using stainless steel Allen head fasteners. They’re not coming off until you decide to take them off; and with rubber seals, you don’t have to worry about corroding fasteners or moisture setting in behind them.
At the end of the day, what you want is an Australian made flare that not only looks tough, but has enough durability to back it up. That’s everything that a proper mod’s supposed to be.
What’s Gotten You Offset?
There’s a long list of reasons that 4×4 owners have for going to bigger tyres, but the list of reasons for ultimately deciding to add fender flares is surprisingly short. In fact, there are really only 3:
- To really step up the vehicle’s overall appearance
- To hide rust or some other type of body damage
- To prevent the tyres from protruding beyond the bodywork of the vehicle.
The first 2 reasons are pretty straightforward, and you’d think keeping the tyres from poking around the bodywork are just a consequence of having bigger tyres, right? Well, not entirely.
If you’re a serious (… or even just a semi-serious) off-roader, not only are the chances good that you installed wider tyres to get a better grip and more traction, but that also elected to mount those tyres on slightly offset rims. There are 3 designations for offset rims:
- Zero offset – when the face of the axle hub aligns exactly with the rim’s centerline.
- Positive offset – when the face of the axle hub is moved outward from the rim’s centerline, resulting in the tyre positioning further inside the fender well.
- Negative offset – when the face of the axle hub is moved inward from the rim’s centerline, resulting in the tyre positioning further outside the fender well.
Negative offsetting is a preference for off-roading because even the tiniest increase in the vehicle’s track (width between tyres on the same axle) can add stability, and it’s a simple way to regain some of the steering clearance that was lost by going to a wider tyre.
Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14 (VSB14) not only set the limits for tyre sizes, but also prescribes guidance on the use of fender flares ( … technically, they’re called fender extensions) to facilitate larger tyres when they’re mounted on offset rims.
VSB14 even addresses the concern that some off-roaders have about the legality of installing fender flares if they elected to go to their largest allowable sized tyre. In short, flares are a perfectly legal mod over a vehicle’s original mudguards … with no restriction whatsoever on their size or design.
It means that depending on the brand of 4×4 you drive, when you’re ready to step up to bigger rubber-mounted an offset rim, fender flares with up to 110mm of wheel coverage are available and waiting for you. That’s a recipe for an aggressive, fully functional, and completely legal mod that looks great too. What more can you ask for.
The Perfect Flare
When it’s all said and done, fender flares are one of those mods that can go any of a number of ways. The key is simply to start with the best products available and to build it out from there. When you shop for the best, that means you’re going to have shop with the best. You’ll immediately recognize the retailer with the best quality, and there won’t be any question about whether they’ve got the perfect flare for your 4×4. And once you’ve installed them, your mates will look at your truck and they’ll understand exactly why you did it.