Preparing for 35s: New Inner Fenders
I have a love, hate relationship with the inner fenders on the JK. I love them because they are very light weight and do an amazing job preventing crap from getting stuck in all the body holes and the engine bay. I hate them because when something gets past the inner fender, it is staying there FOREVER. They also extend needlessly into the area of which the tires need to articulate… why did Jeep do that?
Anyhow, they have to go for the new 35” tires.
Let’s start with the rear inner fender. This was very easy to remove and once it was gone, I decided it was going into the trash. What I did find was that the wheel well was going to be easy to keep clean, but it was painted the body color, white in my case.
I’m not a fan of a white inner fender so I bought some spray bedliner, taped it off, and went to spraying. I think it came out great and we’ll see how well it holds up. Cheap and easy.
Now, the front is a different story because the inner fender for the front actually serves as protection for the engine bay. I could not leave this open. The inner fender is designed in a way that it is almost a necessary part of the fender and I was going to cut the fenders where they attached to inner fender so there would be nothing holding the two together.
I started researching and found some cheap aluminum front inner fenders. Let me reiterate that I found some nice, expensive ones too but these new tires have significantly reduced my available budget for this project. Anyhow, these inner fenders looked nice and would do the job.
One complaint I have with them is that they are built with very little tolerance around some of the suspension components, which sounds great, but doesn’t sound great as they rub the frame going down the road and makes you think that they are going to come through the firewall at your feet. I did a few things to mitigate the noise they caused.
(1) I am a HUGE fan of using the stick-on weather-stripping to give a little cushion between things that rattle and rub. I used this on every contact point I could find.
(2) I bent the aluminum away and would have probably cut it a little around those specific rub points if I had not have had to take them all the way off again.
These two things have mitigated all of the sounds that were concerning me, and I am happy with the outcome.
One thing to note is that I am keeping the stock fenders which offer a little extra complication to the installation of these things. The support for the fender has to be cut pretty significantly to allow the inner fender to mount correctly.
If you are the buy-and-bolt-on kind of Jeeper, get some new fender flares to go along with these. What I am finding as I continue modifying this Jeep is that one mod starts affecting others and they can work together, they just take a little patience and ingenuity.