Fender Flares to Cover Rust: Is It a Good Idea?

One problem with cars that is difficult to remedy at home without a lot of skill is rust. Furthermore, a good repair will never be inexpensive, and for a good reason. To remedy rust, you require top-notch preparation work, cutting, welding, filling, painting, etc. A high degree of expertise and experience is needed to complete each of these processes correctly. You may be tempted to cover up the rust because you believe it would be simpler and cheaper, but should you?

You should know a few things before using fender flares to hide corrosion. Firstly, rust cannot be stopped from spreading by covering it. Additionally, fender flares might hasten the rusting process. Finally, good fender flares are not exactly inexpensive, either. Fender flares are thus not a good choice to hide corrosion.

Why it Is a Bad Idea to Cover Rust With Fender Flares

Rust is only one example of why ignoring issues is a bad idea. It is crucial to realize that rust behaves similarly to a rash or cancer. Meaning that once it manifests, it will not stop spreading until the damaged area is removed and the surrounding material is safeguarded. And with that, it becomes evident that adding fender flares to hide rust would not do anything.

Additionally, fender rust grows quickly; in only a year, it may have expanded beyond the cracks. Once that occurs, there is little you can do to prevent it from happening again, and fixing it will also cost you a lot more money. Not to mention that the fender flares are not inexpensive, so that money will also be lost. Therefore, it is preferable to wait a few months to save $100–$200 over the cost of fender flares and do it the correct way, even if you do not have the funds to treat the rust properly.

Fender flares will probably hasten corrosion in addition to that. This is because to attach them, the fender usually requires drilling. And even with the right preparation, holes in the metalwork usually result in rust.

Additionally, there is a good likelihood that the fender flares may collect muck, snow, water, and filth from the road. A buildup of those causes healthy metal to rust fast, and a piece already rusted will decay in months.

As a result, you will have spent $150 on fender flares that no longer hide the rust in a couple of months. In addition, the price of correctly fixing the fenders has increased from $200–300 to $500–600. Therefore, it is not worthwhile to disguise the rust with fender flares in any manner.

If You Still Choose to Use Fender Flares to Cover Rust

Even so, there are certain techniques to reduce the possibility of utilizing fender flares to do more harm. And the way to achieve it is to prepare the area before installing them. The good news is that you do not need much expertise to do this at home.

You need to sand down the paint surrounding the rust to access healthy metal. Next, remove the rusted parts and paint everything with primer paint or another corrosion protection after removing the rusted parts.

Even better would be to weld a fresh piece of metal into the rusted cutout; alternatively, you may get someone to do it, as it should not be too costly. Of course, subsequently, safeguard the metal.

This is a compromise between the two options, while it still is not the ideal answer and gets very near to replacing the fender correctly. You will not spend much money and will not run the danger of spreading rust, and it should last you a few years. But be careful to let any prospective buyers know if you are selling the car.

When is it OK to use fender flares to cover rust?

Never use fender flares as a stand-in for appropriate fender corrosion repair. Fender flares are a cool temporary remedy, however, assuming the rust patches are not too large and you intend to replace them later.

Install the fender flares only if you want to maintain them or if you intend to replace the whole fender. That is because most high-quality flares need to be drilled, and even those bonded will probably cause the paint to become permanently damaged over time.

However, another consideration with fender flares is that you probably need bigger wheels or, at the very least, spacers. Otherwise, the vehicle will not be as attractive as it once was. Even if smaller flares are available, they probably will not be sufficient to hide rust.

You will also need to paint the flares on your truck to keep it in stock, raising the overall cost. So, in the end, it will cost you nearly as much to install the fender flares correctly as it would cure the rust.

Cost to Fix Rusted Fenders

Depending on where you reside and how much rust there is, the cost of replacing corroded fenders varies greatly. However, most customers get quotes for one fender between $300 and $500. While it may seem like a lot, it calls for at least six hours of difficult labor. However, if your back fenders are rusted, I would advise against doing so, as you would have to rebuild the whole truck bed, and they are not simple to repair.

But purchasing front fenders from junkyards or even eBay is a far better option. Fenders for a 2018–2020 truck that is in good condition cost between $200 and $300. All left is to replace them, and you should be sure to get them in the same shade as your vehicles.

You have so effectively solved your issue for $200. Additionally, you can repair the fender and save tons of labor costs if you have any mechanical ability. How? Read on.

How to Replace a Front Fender

There will be several secondary pieces removed while repairing a front fender. It is preferable if you locate the whole process for your particular vehicle since practically everything comes in the way, but this is the overall process.

  1. Check the inside of the fender for anything fastened to it by opening the hood. That might be a battery, windscreen washer tank, intake, headlamp, etc. Remove each of them first. On all cars, it is rather easy, and the bolts holding them are fairly evident.
  2. After that, you should remove the front grill and bumper if they are still connected to the fender. You can find a big quantity of videos demonstrating how to do this, regardless of the kind of vehicle you drive. It could be a bit tough.
  3. The wheel well liner has to be taken out next. If the truck is high, you may either turn the wheels to one side, jack up the automobile, or remove the wheel. The inner lining is secured with bolts and plastic pins, making removal very simple.
  4. Check the hood’s attachment to the fender now since it is often where the hinge is fastened. Take it out, then securely support that side of the hood.
  5. It is now time to take off the fender. When you open the doors, you will see bolts under the A-pillars. Along the borders of the engine compartment as well. Additionally, one or two bolts can be in the front behind the bumper and beneath the vehicle.
  6. After all the bolts have been taken out, the fender will simply come off. Reinstalling a new one in the reverse sequence remains to be done.

What Is the Point of Fender Flares?

Better appearances are fender flares’ primary goal. Nevertheless, most states mandate that the fenders completely or partially enclose the tire. Therefore, the fender flares might assist in covering bigger or offset wheels to keep your car in compliance.

Is Fender Flare Installation Difficult?

No, it is rather simple to add fender flares. However, you should use caution to prevent drilling holes where they should not be or applying glue incorrectly. Therefore, it is essential to watch several DIY tutorials to learn how to adjust them correctly and to determine what type of surface preparation is required.

How Legal Are Fender Flares?

Fender flares are legitimate, yes. Several states have passed laws requiring the installation of fender flares on cars. Fender flares can only be considered unlawful if they do not cover the tires; however, that depends more on the wheel and tire combination. Fender flares may also be prohibited in Europe without the required certification because of the various rules governing auto modifications.

Do Fender Flares Require Holes to Be Drilled?

Depending on the car type and the fender flares, you may or may not need to drill holes for them. Smaller fender flares are often glued on. Additionally, if your car already has factory-installed fender flares, you may purchase aftermarket ones that screw into the same holes. This eliminates the need for drilling. However, bolt-on fender flares are still available, so it is crucial to research before buying.

What Kinds of Fender Flares Are There?

Fender flares come in various designs, such as OEM type, street style, bolt-on flares, and extended fender flares. The tiniest flares are OEM-style flares, which are essentially tiny plastic trimmings. Only a bit broader, street-style flares nonetheless resemble OEM. The bolt-style flares are available in various sizes and feature obvious bolt holes. Finally, flares in the expanded design range in width from 5 to 7 inches.

Should You Use Fender Flares?

If your fenders are in excellent shape and free of corrosion, then fender flares are a good choice. To undo the procedure if you decide to sell the car, ensure the fender flares are detachable and do not leave any additional holes. However, apart from that, fender flares are inexpensive, give any car a considerably more aggressive aspect, and allow for bigger wheels and tires.

How Long Does the Installation of Fender Flares Take?

The installation of all four fender flares typically takes three to four hours. But it depends on the kind of car and the flares. Bolt flare installation will take the longest on a car without factory holes and the shortest on a vehicle with such holes. Finally, installing glue-on fender flares will take at least a couple of hours since they need extra preparation.

How Do I Pick Fender Flares?

You should first determine how you want your car to appear when selecting fender flares. Meaning first choose a look you like. After that, model-specific flares are preferable over generic ones. Finally, choose flares that bolt into already-existing fender holes or just glue flares on.


In the end, covering rust with anything—including fender flares—is never a smart idea. While rust repair is pricey, it is not much more expensive than high-quality fender flares. Additionally, replacing the whole fender with a used one of the same color is preferable if just the front fenders are corroded.

You should not use fender flares to hide rust that will not be effective for more than a year since rust grows with time. That defeats their whole goal in this instance. But you can get away with it as a stopgap measure.

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