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1997 XJ - Light Fender and Flare Whacking

author: ThePhantum

After installing my Rocky Road Outfitters budget boost and new wheel/tire combo, I immediately ran into problems due to the low backspacing I choose (3.75")...I began to have problems with rubbing. Just going in and out of my driveway the tires would rub on the front bumper guards.

installed budget boost on the XJThe methods I used are what I like to call "Redneck Engineering". There are better tools for the job than the ones I used. These methods will work though. Before I started this is what the XJ looked like.

As I was installing a front hitch receiver to establish a tow point up front, my first step was to eliminate the front valance/spoiler. This was done by removing the factory fog lights/housings and then drilling out the 4 rivets that hold the valance to the bumper. Then I moved on to the bumper guards themselves.

First I marked where I wanted to cut them with a white sharpie. I then removed the bumper guards and scored the markings with a utility knife. Then I just used a coping saw and followed the groove (this was done prior to my acquiring a Dremel). The end result is shown in the following pics (click for larger images):

xj fenderxj fender
XJ fenderXJ fender
Front of XJ

This eliminated all rubbing on road (I still have to finish it off by getting some sheet metal and making some splash guards to protect the horns...which, as you can see in the 2nd image, sit inside the bumper guards and are now completely exposed. Either that or just relocate the horns...)

The first time it went off road was a whole different story. It rubbed all over the place. On top of the wheel wells, on the fenders, I even knocked loose two of the fender flares.

XJ flareXJ flare

coil spacer and whacked fenderTo fix this, I simply removed the flares. Okay, not so simple. I used lots of PB Blaster and I still broke bolts. The flares snap onto a metal flange which bolts to the fender. I broke like four of the studs on the flanges. No real problem, just drilled them out and used nuts and bolts to reattach. Anyway, once the flares were off I took a hacksaw and made small 1" cuts every 2" or so in the fenders. I then bent back each section with channel locks and applied some black rustoleum to keep it from rusting.

I then used the tire marks on the flares as a guide to determine where they needed to be cut back. I cut them using the same method that I used to cut the bumper guards (again...pre-Dremel). I re-attached the flares to the mounting flanges and re-installed the flares to the body.

XJ flareThis eliminated all rubbing except at the top of the wheel wells, but that is because my bump stops were not long enough. Stay tuned...that (albeit brief) writeup is coming.

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