Fenders

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I think one of the most distinguishing design features on a Jeep are the fenders. They are a signature element of this iconic vehicle. Very few vehicles on the road today still use actual fenders.

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When deciding to change them out for something new, I didn't take this decision lightly. Let's talk about why we would want to change the fenders. The main reason for this is clearance. With the addition of bigger tires, and greater flex from our lifts, we need more clearance. some prefer to run a smaller lift, but want bigger tires. That presents a clearance issue as well. I knew I would eventually be running 37" tires with my 3.5" lift, and I wanted the clearance afforded by aftermarket fenders.

Like all things Jeep, we have so many choices when it comes to replacing our stock fenders. We can find them in plastic, steel, aluminum and even carbon fiber. We can find them in full, mid and slim coverage, much like we find in bumpers.  Jeep even offers a new fender through Jeep Performance called Hi-Clear Flares. These move the fender flare up higher on the body line. this represents some of the different thinking on fender design.

Steel tube fenders offer protection, acting as armor on the trail. They are designed to take a beating. The down side of course are two factors, added weight, and they can be susceptible to corrosion issues. Aluminum fenders offer light weight and corrosion resistance, but would be fairly easy to damage. The factory uses an ABS plastic. This offers light weight, flexibility, and if hung up on an obstacle on the trail, would be ripped off the Jeep, as the fender is held on by snap connectors. Also, each fender manufacturer works a certain line, design wise. Sometimes choosing a fender comes down to how it looks on your Jeep. So, as you can see, we have a lot of choices when it comes to fender selection.

For my build, trying to keep weight in check has been the overarching theme. The 3.6L pentastar is adequate for stock trim, but I'm not too keen on having it power a 6000lb. Jeep. This thinking had me looking at something that was light weight, was flexible, and enhanced the overall design I was after.

I've always been a fan of the honest straightforward design of the original Willys MB. Many of those original design cues are still found on the modern wrangler design...

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When I was looking for new fenders, the design of the Rugged Ridges Hurricane flares caught my eye. What I liked about these is they follow the design cues of the original willys...flat and very clean. Rugged Ridge did add some finesse to them with a pocket design as well as clean rolled edges. Here's a look at them being designed...

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When I ordered my Jeep, I specced it with body colored fenders and hard top. I really like the complete look when done this way. For my new fenders, I was after the same look. Rugged Ridge offers two versions of the Hurricane fenders, textured black and a smooth surface that is designed to be painted. I had the fenders shipped directly to a trusted bodyshop to be painted the same as my factory finish. It's important to note that when painting plastic parts that will flex, a flex additive must be added to the paint. Here's a look at the painted fenders...

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As you can see from the above photos, the body shop did a great job painting these. Next up, let's look at the install. As I mentioned earlier, the stock fenders are held in place via plastic snaps. To remove a fender, you first remove all bolts and fasteners that hold the fender liner and inner support bracket in place. Next, simply grab a hold of the fender and pull it off. I have to say, this was pretty daunting on the first attempt! Here's a look at the removal process...

Remove the bolts holding the fender liner...

Remove the bolts holding the fender liner...

Unplug the side marker light...

Unplug the side marker light...

Everything out of the way, ready to begin installing the new fender...

Everything out of the way, ready to begin installing the new fender...

This is the new side marker that comes with the Hurricane fender...

This is the new side marker that comes with the Hurricane fender...

Installed on new metal support bracket...

Installed on new metal support bracket...

This bracket is what supports the new fender. It is bolted to the factory fender support...

This bracket is what supports the new fender. It is bolted to the factory fender support...

One of the things I really liked was I can re-use my stock fender liners. I may switch those out down the road for a set of aluminum liners, but for now, I don't need to buy a set. I also like how much coverage the stock liners give. Living with Chicago's salty winters, I need that!

Here's a look at the front fender bolted into place.

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Here's a comparison shot of the new Hurricane and the stock fender... 

As you can see, quite a change...

As you can see, quite a change...

Now on to the rears. Unbolt and remove the stock fender...

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Here is a quick comparison of the Hurricane and the stock...

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And some detail shots of the new Hurricanes...

Here you can see how nicely they follow the line of the bumper...

Here you can see how nicely they follow the line of the bumper...

In this shot, I am running the black hardware. Rugged Ridge supplies both black and stainless steel hardware...

In this shot, I am running the black hardware. Rugged Ridge supplies both black and stainless steel hardware...

Here you can see the clearance gained from the Hurricanes. This is with a 35" tire...

Here you can see the clearance gained from the Hurricanes. This is with a 35" tire...

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I really liked how this mod really transformed the look of Rubi! The details are really nice with the allen head fasteners. The look ties in perfectly with all the allen head fasteners that Jeep uses. The additional clearance also gives the look that the Jeep is sitting higher.

Steven TalleyComment