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Travel & Flare: Keeping a Low COG With EVO JK Fenders

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on October 10, 2017
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Proven formulas are just that—proven. When it comes to building a versatile four-wheel drive, maintaining a low center of gravity (COG) is critical for creating a safe and stable vehicle on- and off-road. With ten years of production under the belt of the ’07 to ’17 Jeep Wrangler JK, there’s been plenty of time to try hundreds, if not thousands of various build configurations. For our ’13 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, we wanted a Jeep that could stay practical for daily needs, but not have to watch from the sidelines on more challenging off-road adventures.

Fit with a modest 2.5-inch suspension system, we’ve been happy with the lift height, but were itching to get a little more clearance under our axles. To do so, we decided to move up to a 37-inch-tall Nitto Ridge Grappler. While moving from a 35- to 37-inch-tall tire may not seem like a major increase, it does require a few essential modifications. Beyond the need to change your differential gear ratio to adjust for the taller tires (a 5.13 ratio in our case), you’ll need to make room for the large tires to cycle.

To accomplish this on our JK, we decided to remove our Wrangler’s stock fender flares and replace them with a set from EVO Manufacturing. In addition to being completely bolt-on, the high-clearance EVO flares allow for us to fully cycle our 37x12.50R17 tires at our low lift height. Giving us a hand with the install were the EVO-certified installers at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina. To find out more about our setup and the install, read on.

To remove the stock front flares, you’ll need to unbolt the fender supports and unplug the side marker lights. With a firm tug, you can remove each inner and outer fender in one swift motion. You may have to pop out a few of the remaining clips by hand.
EVO ships the fenders bare, so you have the option of having them painted or powdercoated. Since the flares will routinely see debris from the tires, we opted to have our friends at Area 51 Powder Coating in Wilmington, North Carolina, lay on a more durable semigloss finish.
With the front fenders removed, we drilled a few holes at the backside of the wheelwell. This is necessary for the provided fender tie-in supports that bolt the lower portion of the EVO flare.
The fenders are comprised of 1 1/2-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing tied to 3/16-inch mounting flanges and braces with an 1/8-inch steel plate that runs the top length of the fender. This setup creates an incredibly strong fender without being obnoxiously heavy.
Out back, the fenders attach using a series of existing fender holes and nutserts. If you are performing the install at home, we highly recommend a Westward 5TUW5 tool for the nutserts as it will make the install much easier.
The roll-formed flares match perfectly to the JK’s stock, spacious wheelwell openings. In terms of before and after, we’re more than happy to get rid of our faded stock flares for the more stylish EVO set. Though the high-clearance flares offer a more classic flat-side look, they still offer decent tire coverage.
Another consideration for running a 37-inch-tall tire and 2.5 inches of lift is the pinch seam that’s at the front of the rear wheelwell. Early-model JKs will require a bit of sheetmetal trimming to ensure the tire doesn’t rub at full stuff. Rubicon models will need the slider trimmed as well. A Sawzall or cut-off wheel are both excellent tools to get the job done.

Dirt Finish
Getting on the trail is always the true test for any off-road upgrade. (Or at least a good excuse to go play in the dirt!) We’re extremely happy to report that our new flare set allows our tires to cycle freely and without rub. Bumpstops, along with wheel backspacing variances, can make a difference in whether your JK’s tires will still find interference. While we could have reused our stock front inner fender liners, we have a new set from EVO on the way that should be available by the time you read this.

PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630
714-252-0007
www.nittotire.com
Low Range 4x4
Wilimington, NC 28412
910-392-3204
www.lowrange4x4.com
Area 51 Powdercoating
910-769-1724
www.area51powdercoating.com
EVO Manufacturing
714-879-8913
http://www.evomfg.com

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