Installing Bushwacker Extend-A-Fender Flares

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland Expo

Years ago we removed the factory SR5 fender flares that came with our 1998 4Runner. They didn't provide much coverage, and the design left plastic rubbing against the body. Years of dust and dirt started abrading between the plastic and paint, causing the paint to be worn away and rust to form.

Fast forward to today, and we still see those pesky lines above the wheel wells, where the paint had been removed. This, combined with the 285 tires on FZJ80 wheels we have been running for the last five years left me wanting to go back and install a set of fender flares. Wanting more protection, and not wanting to further abrade the paint, I reached out to our friends at Bushwacker for help.

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland ExpoBFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland Expo

We had one of our writers install a set of their Pocket Style Fender Flares on an FJ Cruiser when I was at Toyota Cruisers and Trucks, and I loved how they turned out. Although they do not offer their Pocket Style flares for the 3rd-Generation 4Runner, they do offer their Extend-A-Fender Flares, which offer a look very similar to the flares found on Limited 4Runners of the era.

Specifications

  • Front Flare Tire Coverage: 1.25 in.
  • Rear Flare Tire Coverage: 1.25 in.
  • Front Flare Height: 4.50 in.
  • Rear Flare Height: 4.50 in.
  • Front Aftermarket Bumper Compatible: Yes
  • Rear Aftermarket Bumper Compatible: Yes
  • Price: $510

Equipment Needed

  • Electric Drill
  • Duct Tape
  • Jack and Stands - Required if you have to remove your wheels & tires
  • Pop Rivet Gun
  • Grease Pencil
  • 1/4", 3/16", 5/16", and 11/64" Drill Bits
  • 10mm socket
  • #2 Phillips-Head Screwdriver

Prepping the Vehicle and Flares

Before I started anything I ran down to the local car wash and gave the 4Runner a thorough cleaning, paying particular attention to the inner fenders and areas to be covered up by the flares. We just returned from our annual Labor Day camping trip, so there was a lot of dirt to remove. Once I was satisfied that the body and fenders were thoroughly clean, I headed home to start getting everything ready.

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland Expo
Installing the Rubber Edge Trim

Unlike our old SR5 flares, which rubbed against the body, the Bushwacker flares incorporate a thin rubber edge trim that sits between the fender and the body. To install, I slid the edge trim onto the flares, trimming to length, and then peeled back the red plastic strip to reveal the adhesive. This technique seemed to work better than the peel and stick method described in Bushwacker's installation instructions.

Installation

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland ExpoAs I had removed all of the old SR5 fender flares years ago, I didn't have any fasteners to remove. If you still have these or any other trim pieces, you will need to remove all of the metal fasteners, and any trim pieces.

I started by installing the front flares, as their one-piece design was the most straightforward. To begin I drilled 1/4" holes in the top three dimples of each front flare, and 5/16" holes in the lower four dimples. Next, a supplied stainless bracket (Part No. MB1-0008)needs to be attached to each of the upper three 1/4" holes with a supplied 1/4" Black Nylon Retainer (Part No. RV1-P001), keeping the slotted portion of the bracket to the inside of the fender.

Once complete, I was able to slide each of the front fenders in place and secure using the supplied M6-.3x20mm hex head screws (Part No. SW1-0036). Each slot on the stainless bracket and lower 5/16" hole should line up with one of the plastic inner fender retainers. I made sure to press against the flare as I was tightening the screws to ensure good contact between the fender and body.

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland Expo
Bolting on the Front Flare

With both front flares installed, I turned my attention to the rear, which took considerably more time. Each rear fender assembly has four plastic parts; the inner door, outer door, center, and rear bumper cap. To begin, I followed Bushwacker's instructions and taped the inner door to the outer door and applied two double-stick tabs to each inner door part. Using tape to temporarily hold the center and rear bumper caps in place, I lined up the door assembly and pressed it against the 4Runner door for a trial fit (keeping the other side of the double-stick tab covered.

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland ExpoEven after reading the instructions a few time, this was a bit nerve-wracking. I didn't want to screw this step up and be left with flare sections that didn't line up properly. I think I sat at the first fender for a good 20-minutes, checking alignment and opening the door before I finally committed to pulling off the double-stick tab covers and pressing the inner and outer door parts into place.

Following the installation instructions, I removed the outer door part and bumper cap and used the supplied drill-tip screws (Part No. SW1-0066) to attach the center part into place. Using a grease pencil, I made some alignment marks around the inner door part - something not explained in the instructions. This allowed me to pull off the inner door part and remove the double-sided tab. I was then able to realign the inner door part and attach to the door with the supplied drill-tip screws. I noticed the upper indent on the inner door part lined up with the door lip. Not wanting to drill through the lip and leave an exposed screw point to catch on things, I offset the screw slightly inside of the lip.

With the inner door and center parts attached, I worked on attaching the outer door and rear bumper cap. I placed the outer door part over the inner and drilled 11/64" holes through each of the alignment indents. I then inserted five of the supplied aluminum rivets (Part No. RV1-A002), using a rivet gun to secure them in place.

It was now time to install the rear bumper caps, rounding out the look. This requires drilling 5/16" holes in each of the three indents on the cap's inside flat. Using factory bolts, I secured the bumper cap to the bumper. Years of offroading has left my rear bumper a bit tweaked, so I had to play with the bumper's mounting bolts to ensure thre was enough gap between the top of the bumper and body to slide the cap in place.

Conclusion

BFGoodrich, Dometic, 4Runner, Overland, Overlanding, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal, Overland Expo
Bushwacker Extend-A-Fender Flares
From start to finish, this project took me four hours, with the biggest chunk second-guessing myself as I fitted up the rear door parts. I am really pleased with how these flares look, which not only provide a more aggressive look for June but also provide enough coverage over our 285 KM3s! I also like how well they align with our CBI Offroad Front Hybrid Bumper - which still offers great protection, even with the flares installed. I would, without reservation, recommend Bushwacker's Extend-A-Fender Flares to anyone looking to add fender flares to their 3rd-Generation 4Runner!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was given the equipment used in this article in consideration for publication.




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Author
Overland Expo, Living Overland, ToyotaBeau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs.


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