Article and Photos courtesy of Off-Road.com and Pete Bach
Warrior Products Jeep JK Tube Fender Flares Installation
After nearly 70 years of production, one would think that the designers at Jeep® would have perfected our beloved off-road vehicle by now. Well, take one look at the Jeep JK’s fender flares and you’ll quickly see that perfection is a long way off. The flares are just plain ugly, bulky, heavy and are easily ripped off on minor trail obstacles. Maybe they were an afterthought after a Jeep engineer’s nightmare!
We did have some fun modifying them to a more acceptable state in a previous installment – Sawzall Surgery. So, after a couple of years and a lot pretending to love our modified plastic flares, it was decided that they needed to go in favor of stout, metal replacements.
The problem we ran into was finding a flare that was good looking, functional and strong enough to take a fairly hard hit. We looked at aftermarket flares also made from plastic materials and were not satisfied with their construction or look. We then found more plastic and metal monstrosities that looked more like wings than tire coverage. After a lot of searching and coming up empty, we finally stumbled across Warrior Products JK Tube Fender Flares. These look like something we’d be happy with and they are just now being released in the market.
We checked out Warrior’s Web site for more information on the flares and company and found a statement that intrigued us: “At Warrior, our product design mantra is simple: Target a specific area of the vehicle; design a product that either protects and/or enhances the functionality of that area; construct the product concept with the best materials available; and then offer that product at the best value possible. We’ve been doing so since 1992.” We like this mantra, and we also like the fact that Warrior products are Made in America!
It wasn’t long after reading a little more about Warrior that our decision was made on which flares to run on our JK Project. Soon after, we began the Warrior Tube Flare installation. The front tube flares are very well designed and look all business. Tubing construction is .095-inch Wall, 1.5-inch OD HREW, while mounting plates are 11 gauge HRPO steel and the top skins are 16-gauge HRPO steel; these flares can take some abuse. Our only concern is that these rugged fixtures are still mounted to the JK’s thin sheet metal. So, the only real weak point is the JK’s sheet metal, so a very hard hit is likely to do some damage. And we mean a very hard hit. The flares are still very tough and sturdy!
The design of the flares is beautiful, as well as proportioned and fitted for very large tires. Their high-clearance, flat-fender design is exactly what we need and is what many JK owners are asking for. With these flares and minor trimming or bump stop adjustments, we suspect a mild three inch lift can accommodate 38-inch tires. A big concern for many, due to some state laws, is that full tire coverage is a requirement. With our 38.5 x 13.5 Pitbull Tires, our rears are legal in any state.
The front tires are covered as well but still leave about 2 inches of exposed tread, which we like. No more worries of red flashing lights in the rearview when running through the streets of Moab! To complete the package, we also received the optional LED side marker lights. These lights are also an issue of legality in most states, and Warrior has addressed them by manufacturing a mount to go along with these sharp little lights.
We have had more than a few comments and questions about the small, staggered welds that attach the top plates to the tubing. While a continuous weld would look pretty, it could also cause metal distortion. We are guessing that a continuous weld would also increase the price to manufacture these affordable tube flares by adding build and finishing time. The staggered welds suddenly don’t seem like such a bad idea, and along with a few questioning comments, we’ve had many more raving comments over the look of our flares.
Installation of the front flares was nothing more than removing the factory flares and bolting on the new Warrior flares. The factory mounting holes are used with a series of bolts, washers and nuts. Adhere the small strip of rubber trim to each flare and bolt them up! We had the fronts on in less than an hour with regular hand tools.
The rears were slightly more complicated. These flares mount higher up on the body but still bolt to the inner wheel wells and to factory holes. The directions call for each hole to be drilled out to 1/2 inch and to use the provided threaded inserts. This seemed to work well; however, we went a slightly different route by using 5/16th rubber expansion nuts. Why? Two reasons: We like the solid fitment that they provide and know that they will not wallow out of the JK’s sheet metal. We also like them for the ease of removal of the flares. We run many extreme trails with our JK, and by removing the flares it gives us less possibilities of severely damaging them. We like running the toughest trails with no flares for increased visibility
The left rear flare mounts very close to the fuel-filler ring. In fact, it mounts slightly over the ring. There is no fitment issue here, as the rubber trim forms around the plastic ring, but we plan to trim the factory ring for aesthetic purposes only. Much like the fronts, the rears are a simple bolt-on affair after drilling and took less than an hour to complete. (Note: We recommend using a Step Drill Bit (Unibit) when drilling out the factory bolt holes in the body. It will provide a more accurate and cleaner hole to work with, whether you use the provided aluminum threaded inserts or rubber expansion nuts.)
Installation was complete and we then debated on what to do with our wheelwell liners. In the end, it was decided to leave the rears out completely and paint the exposed wells black. The fronts were trimmed and reinstalled. We don’t think that water and debris would be problematic entering the engine compartment; however, we do think that it looks cleaner with the partial liners installed. Our Warrior Tube Flares look great! They’ve completely eliminated the huge roost we get while driving in rain and snow, and our windshield wipers are no longer constantly used while on wet roads. We are confident that they’ll withstand most trail abuse we can throw at them … and keep us legal while getting there.
Warrior has come up with a great product for JKs and a great American Made product that is in line with foreign made prices, which is rare these days. These flares should be at the top of any JK owner’s list of needs.