The main benefits of fender flares on a pickup truck (or any vehicle really) are the better looks, particularly so if it has those large, offset tires, and preventing the road debris from damaging the wheel wells themselves.
The question here though is do they help prevent rust from forming? I mean, fender rust is a common occurrence on any vehicle for that matter, and preventing it from appearing, let alone spreading would be great, right?
No, fender flares generally do not prevent rust from appearing in those areas; ironically enough, they can actually cause rust instead, let me explain why.
They may be not watertight, that’s all. Normally flares are only held by bolts on the bottom, and a piece of gasket on top.
Eventually rain, dirt or what have you will find its way through the top, and pool at the bottom. Considering that the moisture has no route to escape quick enough, and there can be scratches because of the rubbing, this can lead to potential corrosion.
Fender flares can lead to even worse results for folks who live in those road salt-use places.
A lot of the residue will eventually end up being stuck behind the flare and the body of the pickup, and because it is a mix of salt, sand and water, the metal is bound to get eaten up.
But that’s just a general take on this… There will be owners who completely disagree with what i just stated, and tell that they never ran into any problems with this accessory.
And that can be actually true. Not every pickup truck is made the same – some have worse bodies than others when it comes to this topic, therefore drawing the comparison and blaming the rust formation purely on the fender flares may be nothing more than illogical.
Is there any way to use them without the rust?
There is actually one action you can apply which just might inhibit the rust production, and that is cleaning.
More specifically washing and drying under there every so often. You’ll probably end up needing to remove all of the four fender flares each time you want to do so, but hey, if you strive for that aggressive look or whatnot, this may not be a struggle for you at all.
Another thing i heard owners have luck with is first spraying the fender location with bedliner, and only then install the flares.
Doing so prevents any form of liquid entering the metal, and considering so that there is going to be a bit of moisture at play there at all times, this can fight the rust.
Times when using fender flares may make more sense
If your truck’s fenders are already heavily rusted, slapping on the fender flares will cover up the damage.
Is that the right way to go about it? I don’t think so, as you should fix up the rust first and only then consider adding anything on top of it, but if you don’t care much about the vehicle at that point, flares will certainly hide the eyesore.