Modern Classic Enterprises Fender Flares
If you have never heard of Modern Classic Enterprises then you are missing out. Modern Classic Enterprises specializes in making flatty style flares for Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ and JK models. These aren't your typical armored up tube style flares that have become so popular, these are made of plastic. Specifically, they are made of a material called TPO which, unlike other plastic fenders does not fade or crack, in fact these flare are made to be wheeled on and take a beating, but still return to their original shape.
So why would I put plastic flares on my JK?
My first thought was that I needed something to clear 37's with my long arm, but I didn't want to lose a bunch of suspension up travel by having to add bump stop extensions to keep my tires out of my factory flares. My second thought was that I wanted something that could most likely pass inspection anywhere I go, therefore I wanted to find something that allowed me to run my factory corner lenses in about the same location that they come on a stock flare. There were several tube fender companies that I was looking at, and all of them make fantastic products but something else started to cross my mind.
In the process of swapping over, one of the first things I did was add a Teraflex HD Hinged Carrier (another fantastic product) to hold up the extra weight of the 37" BFG on a steel wheel without damaging my tailgate. Leaving the shop that night I could feel just how much weight that tire added on my poor 3.8 so I started thinking about weight reduction. I knew that adding aluminum wasn't for me, because I typically crack a flare every time I go out and the aluminum would start looking pretty gnarly after a few trips. I knew steel wasn't for me because I like the fact that my two door is light for a JK and I wanted to keep it as light and nimble as possible. So I remembered a few years ago that I was perusing a forum and found that there was a company that made a plastic flare you can drive over. I punched in MCE flares on google and good news, they make a JK flare now.
My last consideration was this. Steel flares are great but their design on a JK is somewhat flawed in most cases. A majority of a JK's body is very thin stamped steel and is really only somewhat rigid at the pinch seams. A big steel flare is going to be stronger than the material that it is bolted to in most cases and will simply transfer the impact from the very rigid steel flare into the flemsy tub and now you have permanent damage. There are some companies that do add bracing to help with this in the front, but not many and in the rear the only solution is to get a flare that mounts directly to full corner guards. Adding full corner guards is a great way to armor up, but in comes the weight problem again.
So that was it, I called up Mike at MCE and got a set on the way for the shop JK and I ended up with a flare that:
1. Is durable and has a lifetime warranty.
2. Gave me the room I needed to keep my suspension up travel on 37's.
3. Looks Cool :-)
4. Should pass inspection in the great state of Louisiana.
5. Actually reduced the weight of my Jeep (by about 3 lbs. but hey...at least I didn't add weight).
5. Don't transfer impacts to the tub causing permanent damage.
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If you are curious about the installation, keep reading.
So how did the install go.
Well...it was pretty straight forward. The toughest part is cutting the old inner fenders out and fitting them back into the wheel well, but after you do the first one the second is much easier. Other than that here are some tips if you decide to take on the install in your garage at home.
1. Use a lower speed cordless drill when drilling. Use a 5/16" socket on the self tapping screws to secure them to the tub and keep the drill torque on a lower setting if possible. This will keep you from having to swap out drill bits and the lower torque setting will keep you from running the self tappers so far in that they strip the hole.
2. Measure twice and cut/drill once...I can't reiterate this enough. I almost drilled about half of the holes in the rear flare in the wrong spot but I caught it by double checking.
3. When lining up the front flares use the button head bolts on the front of the flare that mount to the factory holes to hold the front of the flare in place and use a clamp to hold the back of the flare in place.
4. If you have a black jeep don't use a black marker to mark the tub for drilling...you won't see the marks...
5. There are a bunch of factory holes already in the tub, if you find that one of your holes will be close or on one of these factory holes that is okay. Leave that hole empty and drill a new hole through the flare close to that spot where the screws can make contact with good metal.
6. When you are putting the front flares on, take the front button head bolts out of the flare, this will make it much easier to install the adjusters that go on the factory flare support bracket.
7. I used a step bit to drill the hole for the LED's to be mounted on the flare lip. It's easy to do, and there is a hole that you can pass the factory wires through that is already on your jeep. Initially I taped the wires out of the way but I have since added some 3M stick on zip tie mounts to keep everything secure.
8. When you are connecting the wires from the LED's to the factory corner lights the black wire from the LED goes to the white wire from the factory harness and the white wire from the LED goes to the black wire from the harness. Now this may have been a fluke but the lesson here is double check your wiring to make sure everything works before you commit to connections and run short on wire.
9. The rear are much more straight forward than the front, especially when your factory flare is already busted and falls right off.
1. Match your flare height to your lift and tire, I am running a 4" flexible suspension on 37's. If I would have stuck with 35's my tires would look quite small. In fact, you can probably run 35's on little to no lift with these flares because of the extra clearance they provide on top of and behind the front tire and the extra clearance they provide inside of the rear wheel wells and all the way around the rear tires.
2. Measure twice cut/drill once...I can't say this enough, nobody wants a brand new jeep that is riddled with holes.
3. Take your time installing, if you don't feel comfortable installing then let a professional do it.