Main photo credit: Deni Williams/ Shutterstock.com
Plink! The sound of a small stone dances in your wheel well for a moment as the air shimmers in the heat of summer, radiating up from the rolling asphalt ahead. It’s hour three of your road trip and you’ve long since grown weary from hearing “Baby Shark” on repeat. The kids are asleep, but you know the moment you switch the playlist, it’ll be all tears and tantrums. It’s an uneasy peace, but you’ll take it, trying to let the music fade into the background, instead of focusing on the regular thrump, thrump, thrump of the expansion gaps on the highway.
It’s then that you see it. The glittering grille of a tractor-trailer fills your sideview mirror. The broken wings and legs of a hundred deceased insects flutter in the 70 MPH draft, threatening to make your crossover the hulking beast’s next meal. A blinker flashes, and he’s beside you, matching your speed. He points a beefy arm at his windshield, aiming at a fresh fissure in the glass and shouts over the roar of the highway, “Get a pair of mud flaps, YA JERK!” As the big rig’s diesel grumbles and pulls ahead, you can only focus on those massive rubber gravel guards waving in the wind like the cape of a hero whose superpower is freeway courtesy. On them, the name of his freight company is embossed, Hammerhead Hauling.
Taken as onomatopoeia, the name “mud flap” is practically vulgar. But while they invoke images of dirty exhaust and rush hour gridlock, these accessories guard against airborne asphalt, pebbles, road salt, snow, and the eponymous mud. It’s not just about protecting tailgaters either, the pristine paint job you save may be your own. The practicality of mud flaps goes well beyond the purview of lifted trucks. They come in many shapes and sizes from heavy gauge rubber panels that protect your travel trailer to contoured flares that are as much for looks as they are for shielding your rocker panel from debris on track day.
In this guide we’ll focus mostly on universal mud flaps, which can be trimmed and drilled to fit practically any vehicle. However, we will single out a few specialty guards for some popular models and specific use cases. So, whether you’re in the market for practical protection from paint chips or just want an accessorized look from behind, read on.
For more information on the best mud flaps, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor’s Pick: Husky Liners Rubber Rear Mud Flaps
- 2. Budget Pick: SUNPIE Car Mud Flaps
- 3. Trailer Hauler Pick: Rock Tamers Mudflap System
- 4. Ford F-150 Pick: Husky Liners Black Custom Mud Guards
- 5. Jeep Wrangler Pick: TeraFlex JK Transit Mud Flap Kit
- 6. Rally Armor Mud Flaps
- 7. Husky Liners Long John Flare Flaps
- 8. Dee Zee Full Size Brite-Tread Mud Flaps
- 9. REK-mesh Off-Road Mud Flaps
- 10. Plasticolor Yosemite Sam Back Off Easy Fit Mud Guard
- What do Mud Flaps Do?
- Who Should Own Mud Flaps?
- How to Install Mud Flaps:
- Custom Mud Flaps
- Universal Mud Flaps
1. Editor’s Pick: Husky Liners Rubber Rear Mud Flaps
Providing good, all-around projectile mitigation for trucks and full-size SUVs are the Husky Liners mud flaps with weights. Constructed from a hard-wearing thermoplastic meant to endure all seasons, this set of two rear-wheel guards should be in it for the long haul.
The mud flaps measure 23.25-inches long by 12.25-inches wide for impressive coverage. As for the “weights,” the company admits they are strictly for aesthetics. In fact, if you prefer to eschew the brushed metal accents, a similar Husky Liners set can be had at almost half the price. A matching pair for the front wheels is available for purchase separately.
These guards feature a universal fit, meaning you can equip these to practically any vehicle you prefer. Husky includes installation hardware, but it’s up to you to locate the best mounting points for your vehicle and drill your own holes. As with all universal flaps, you may find it necessary to trim them to fit.
Buyers call these mud flaps impressively heavy duty and durable. Those who have self-installed these guards say that while the process is relatively straightforward, you might consider purchasing an extra metal support bracket from the hardware store. The Husky Liners mud flaps have so much heft that they tend to strain their attachment points over time.
2. Budget Pick: SUNPIE Car Mud Flaps
Coming in at considerably lower cost and curb appeal, SUNPIE’s affordable splash guards are a great way to get started. Measuring 13 by 11.4 inches, these black, non-descript mud flaps provide considerably less coverage than our top pick, making them more appropriate for compact to midsize crossovers and cars.
This set of four guards features universal fitment, and you will need to drill your own holes. This also means you are free to customize how low you want them to hang and how far you want them to extend from the side of the vehicle. Mounting hardware, consisting of plastic rivets, is included.
Customer reviews recommend skipping the flimsy mounts, instead using some of the money saved on stainless steel screws and fender washers. The panels can be trimmed as necessary using tin snips or a carpet knife.
One compromise that may be a visual bridge too far is that these four panels are all cut with one die from the same sheet of material, which is matte on one side and glossy on the other. Who cares? Well, this means one side of your car will feature shiny mud flaps and the other will be dull, no matter how you arrange them. But, at such a steep discount, this disparity may be worth the savings.
3. Trailer Hauler Pick: Rock Tamers Mudflap System
Unlike the universal picks on our list, this Rock Tamers system employs mud flaps for a very specific use case. This set of two rear guards forgoes permanent mounting within the wheel wells for a 1-inch area of free space on your trailer hitch, which makes sense because the Rock Tamers are designed to keep debris from kicking up and scratching your towable payload.
Whether you’ve got a shiny speed boat, a pricey Windstream, or just a cargo trailer, this duo of massive 24 by 24-inch guards is made to protect your tow-behind from a constant barrage of dust and gravel. Available in 2-, 2.5- and 3-inch mount sizes, the Rock Tamers are also unusually customizable with an adjustable width that ranges from 66.75 to 97 inches.
The hub and arms of this apparatus are made of forged aluminum, which is powder coated for resistance to corrosion. The rods that support the flaps are constructed from zinc-coated steel, which is sheathed in a stainless steel sleeve. The guards themselves are made from fiber-reinforced rubber and are a whopping 3/8-inch thick.
While the flaps are height adjustable via the arms, they also feature pre-molded cut lines that make permanent downsizing possible if they are still lacking ground clearance.
The biggest downside may be the Rock Tamers’ oversized price tag. For the cost, some buyers wish they were a bit more durable, but most seem to concede that they’re worth the money. Installation is a breeze compared to other products on our list, though when it comes to customizing the panel size, reviewers say bring your drill. While a rubber punch tool is bundled with the kit, it isn’t very useful. Also be wary of positioning the flaps behind a hot exhaust pipe, which can lead to warping or cracking.
4. Ford F-150 Pick: Husky Liners Black Custom Mud Guards
Another entry from Husky Liners, this pick is exclusively for America’s best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150, more specifically model years 2015-2019. Like many custom, no-drill kits, these mud flaps aren’t very… flappy. Instead they’re attractively molded to match the factory styling of the pickup truck.
This set of four provides full tread coverage of the F-150’s factory tires and is made from durable thermoplastic. Because these are a custom fit, no drilling or trimming should be required, making installation that much easier.
Despite this, some users complain that they aren’t as easy to install as they should be. In fact, if your truck gets more than the average share of rugged abuse, be prepared to get the drill out and buy some screws to replace the stock fasteners. This, reviewers say, is especially true for the front wheels.
5. Jeep Wrangler Pick: TeraFlex JK Transit Mud Flap Kit
Sticking with popular utility vehicles for the moment, the TeraFlex Mud Flap Kit is expressly for the JK Jeep Wrangler (2007-2018 model years). This set of two guards for the rear of the vehicle also accommodates Rubicon and Unlimited trims, and you might well ask what a go-anywhere rock scrambler needs with mud flaps.
Setting aside the fact that many, if not most, Wranglers serve as grocery getters, some states require the installation of mud flaps. For off-roaders that covet every degree of approach and departure they can get, a compliance mud flap is just one more obstacle. To that end, TeraFlex has a unique trick up its sleeve. While its guards are plenty rugged, they can also quickly be removed with the turn of a knob when navigating tricky terrain.
The Transit Mud Flap Kit is probably among the easiest to install on this list, owing to the Wrangler’s legendary customizability. Just two bolts on each side directly attach the mud flap supports to the vehicle’s frame. No removing wheels or drilling holes.
The guard itself is made from UV resistant polyurethane, textured on the outer surface to match the Wrangler’s trim and smooth on the inner surface to better slough off mud and dirt.
According to user reviews, these mud flaps hold up to cold temperatures, continuing to maintain some give where others become brittle. But, as durable as they may be, they should still be removed before too much “fun” because they can certainly be damaged if left attached. One final caveat: this kit is not compatible with wraparound bumpers. If you cannot see straight into the wheel well, unobscured, there is no way to attach these guards.
6. Rally Armor Mud Flaps
Rally Armor is a brand known for providing custom mud flaps for trackable cars from Subaru, Ford, Honda, and others. However, with this model, the company offers up a universal option for sporty cars. Presenting a smaller, 12 by 15-inch footprint, this four-piece set is intended for light-duty dust and stone deflection.
Notably more affordable than the vehicle-specific kits Rally Armor produces, if you’re willing to be a DIYer, you could save quite a bit for your trouble. The catch? It doesn’t come with any mounting hardware, and because it needs to be able to flex to the contours of any car, it’s reportedly more “bendy.”
These deflectors are big crowd pleasers based on the reviews. Buyers, of course, confirm that installation is more work than custom versions, but can be completed in about an hour. Remember to come ready with self-tapping screws or fender clips, plus cardboard to make a template. Overall, reviews rave about the sporty aesthetic the product achieves. One verified buyer sums it up, “Can’t complain for the price.”
7. Husky Liners Long John Flare Flaps
For a slightly different take on universal mud flaps, we turn back to Husky Liners and its Long John Flare Flaps. These extraordinarily long splash guards are part mud flap, part fender flare. Clocking in at 15 by 36 inches, a long and slender portion of the flap climbs up and under the top of the wheel well providing even more shielding from dirt and mud than a standard deflector.
Sold in sets of two, these flaps feature a lightly textured finish and are trimmable to customize the amount of coverage the guards provide.
Users report that the kit includes mounting hardware, which makes the flaps simple to install. However, some reviews wish it came with more secure fasteners since the additional protruding surface area makes it even more likely to get snagged and torn off. The most succinct verdict? Ugly but effective.
8. Dee Zee Full Size Brite-Tread Mud Flaps
And now for something a bit more… ornamental. Dee Zee’s Brite-Tread Mud Flaps are for the truck driver who not only wants to protect against flying debris, but also needs to make a statement while doing it. The chromed-out diamond plate aesthetic is a classic look, and if that’s your style, these are for you.
Despite their rigidity, these 12 by 16-inch aluminum plates are, in fact, universal fit. As with more flexible and forgiving materials on this list, you’ll need to make a few custom holes to get these puppies mounted. Remember: measure twice, drill once. Mounting hardware is included for this pair of two rear guards. Front plates can be purchased separately.
It’s worth noting that these Dee Zee flaps will not fit vehicles with fender flares. Buyers love them, but they are realistic about their usefulness, cautioning shoppers to consider them mostly for decoration as they bend easily and won’t hold up to off-roading abuse. Nevertheless, reviewers claim to buy them again and again as they wear out. If these are your jam, you already know it.
9. REK-mesh Off-Road Mud Flaps
For something decorative with a more contemporary touch, we present for your consideration the REK-mesh Off-Road Mud Flaps. Sporting an aggressive but technical look, these guards measure a considerable 12 by 24 inches with the upper two thirds composed of stainless steel mesh.
These mud flaps are universal, and that mesh means no drilling as long as your vehicle has the necessary holes for secure placement. This set of two guards has a stepped shape to accommodate knobby tires and is available in three color schemes: black on black, black on white, and brushed metal on black. These accessories are definitely more for looks than function, and they come at an incredibly steep price.
User reviews complain that the included screws corrode quickly with exposure to the elements. They also say that while the mesh does let some water and mud through, the flaps generally do a good job of blocking the heavier stuff that will mar your paint job. While these REK-mesh mud flaps are, as one buyer writes, “BADASS,” another confirms that the metal is “tin can thin” and that these flaps bend in deep snow.
10. Plasticolor Yosemite Sam Back Off Easy Fit Mud Guard
There is a certain crowd for whom mud flaps aren’t mud flaps unless they have the scowling visage of Looney Toons’ Yosemite Sam emblazoned on the back. Yes, it features cartoon guns, and that might not be for everyone.
Sold by Plasticolor, this classic design features universal fitment and is composed of PVC with a fiberglass backing that resists cracking from impacts and temperature extremes. At 11 by 19 inches, this flap provides a decent area of coverage.
Reviewers almost universally love this mud flap for its mix of nostalgic design and practical protection. Buyers praise it for its sturdiness and say it cleans up and ages well. A minority of users even claim that it actually discourages tailgaters, a bit dubious. Perhaps it would be better adorned with an actual Yosemite Sam quote, “When I say whoa! … I mean whoa!”
What do Mud Flaps Do?
These aftermarket upgrades are useful for cars, crossovers, and trucks, but most needed for vehicles that, for one reason or another, tend to spray rocks, loose asphalt, dust, and of course mud from spinning wheels. Mud flaps are a no-brainer for drivers who live on, or whose commute takes them down, dirt roads. Guards placed in the rear of the wheel well protect other drivers and your own paint job from flying projectiles.
And while mud flaps are made for a very specific purpose, there’s no denying that some drivers just want to accessorize for a unique look. While some flaps are made to go unnoticed, those clad in chrome, brushed steel, or red logos are designed to be seen. The mud flap you choose can accentuate the sportiness of your hot hatch or the rugged stance of your lifted pickup.
Who Should Own Mud Flaps?
Owing to their utilitarian nature, trucks are the most frequent recipient of mud flaps, but they aren’t the only use case by a long shot. Low-slung cars, especially those that frequent the track or attend autocross events, are also often equipped with splash guards. If you intend to keep your prized canyon carver in factory-new condition, mud flaps will mitigate the amount of fine dust and shards of gravel showering your rocker panels and doors at highway speeds.
That said, your vehicle isn’t the only object susceptible to the chips, scuffs, and hazing from road detritus. If you tow a boat, a travel trailer, or other precious cargo, they roll behind your truck or SUV in a constant line of friendly fire. That’s where hitch-mounted mud flaps come in to protect your towables with wide rubber guards that sit behind the vehicle instead of permanent mounting within individual wheel wells.
How to Install Mud Flaps:
Mud flaps come in two basic flavors: custom and universal. The former is purchased for a specific year, make, model, and body style. It will come molded or cut to fit that particular vehicle with the appropriate mounting hardware and pre-cut holes to match the attachment points found in the wheel well.
Universal mud flaps, on the other hand, are generally less expensive and can be customized to fit any vehicle. The trade-off for affordability is installation time and aesthetics. With either type of mud flap, thoroughly read the included instructions as mounting procedures may vary from model to model.
When installing either type of mud flap, your first step should be thoroughly flushing your wheel wells free of all debris and grime to ensure you have clean, dry surfaces for mounting your deflectors. To install front guards, turn your wheels all the way to the left or right to give yourself the maximum amount of clearance for mounting the panels.
Custom Mud Flaps
For custom mud flaps, compare the flap to the wheel well where it will be mounted. Observe the screws or clips that match up with the holes in the guard. Remove those screws or other hardware and reserve them.
Hold the panel up to the wheel well, making sure all of the mounting holes line up. The mud flap should match the contours of the surface. If not, double check you’ve selected the correct mud flap from your kit.
Inserting them through holes in the mud flap, reinstall the screws or clips you removed to the holes they came from, being mindful that the kit may have included additional washers, nuts, or other hardware meant to interface with the vehicle and the mud flap. Some kits include protective tape intended to save your paint job from scratches where the mud flap is seated, should you ever decide to uninstall it.
If additional holes remain in the mud flap, which do not match up with mounting points on your vehicle, subsequent drilling into the vehicle body or self-tapping screws may be necessary.
Repeat this process for all remaining wheels, noting that it may be necessary to remove the rear wheels if you are unable to maneuver in the wheel well.
Universal Mud Flaps
For universal mud flaps, check your kit for an included template. If one is not available, locate a spare piece of cardboard large enough to accommodate one of the mud flaps. Trace the outline of the mud flap you wish to install and cut it out.
Using the cardboard or included template, locate the position within the wheel well where you want to mount the matching mud flap, making sure that there are attachment points which will securely hold the flap.
Note the locations of the screws by marking them with a pen or pencil. Note also whether the panel will need to be trimmed to fit. In general, mud flaps should hang 3 to 4 inches off the ground.
Return the template to the mud flap and drill out holes in the marked spots to match, starting first with a smaller drill bit and changing out to a larger one if necessary. Trim the panel according to your markings using a sharp knife or utility snips.
Remove the noted screws from the wheel well and reserve them. Place the drilled and trimmed mud flap in the wheel well, confirming proper fitment and that the holes line up with the mounting points on the body.
If everything checks out, reattach removed screws and/or use included hardware provided with the mud flap kit. If the attachment doesn’t feel secure, consider drilling new holes and adding additional screws or fender clips.
Repeat this process for all remaining wheels, noting that it may be necessary to remove the rear wheels if you are unable to maneuver in the wheel well.
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