What Do Splash Guards Do?

What Do Splash Guards Do?

Last Updated April 11, 2024 | Andrew Boyle

Splash guards, or as they’re sometimes called, mud guards, are one of the most quintessential truck accessories you could imagine.

Even though you might have a vague idea of what a splash guard or mud flaps are for, there are some things you should consider.

Splash Guards or Mud Flaps?

As previously mentioned, splash guards go by several different names. Splash guards and mud guards are the formally correct names for this accessory, but no one is going to get confused if you call them mud flaps. Mud flaps are, in some cases, the generic term for anything that sits behind your wheels blocking debris. In other cases, the term mud flaps specifically refers to flexible flaps that hang behind your wheels, as opposed to rigid guards.

Jeep Wrangler in Mud

Part of the reason many enthusiasts prefer to say splash guard is because of the reputation of the word “mud flaps”. It’s often synonymous with the iconic silhouette mudflap girl, indecipherable CB radio chatter, and the song “Convoy” by C.W. McCall. That being said, it’s a very minor distinction.

What Do Splash Guards Do?

As the name implies, splash guards keep the areas behind your vehicle’s tires from getting battered by whatever the road flings at them, be it water, mud, gravel, or debris. At first glance, it’s easy to see how this accessory could protect your ride. Road debris can come flying off of your wheels at quite a high speed, potentially leaving scratches and dents on your wheel wells.

Splash guards aren’t just for protecting your own vehicle though. They are a great way to ensure that any pedestrians or those driving behind you don’t get pelted or splashed by what your tires fling up. For this reason, they are legally required in some states on certain vehicles.

If you’ve ever had your windshield cracked by a rock flung up by a poorly splash-guarded truck, then you’ll understand why these are legally required.

Example of a Rigid Splash Guard

Besides the legal requirement to have a splash guard, there are plenty of other reasons that you might want to install a mud or a splash guard on your vehicle.

If you live somewhere with frequent rain and snow, then splash guards can help prevent rust from forming. The less water that gets flung deep into your vehicle’s wheel wells, the fewer chances rust has to propagate. If you live in an area like the Midwest or the Northeast that is practically allergic to unsalted roads, then a splash guard can really help keep the rust at bay.

Splash guards and mud flaps aren’t just for trucks and SUVs. There are splash guards for any type of vehicle that may need them.

Types of Splash Guards

Splash guards come in many different varieties. There are no real functional differences between them, but rather, their appearance and method of installation can vary.

The first two big categories of splash guards are drill and no-drill. Again, this is as simple as it sounds. No-drill splash guards don’t require you to make any holes in your vehicle’s wheel wells, while drill splash guards do.

Even though this makes it sound that the drilling must be a major pain if no drill guards are an option, that isn't necessarily the case. Both are easy to install, some owners simply prefer not to drill into their vehicle's bodywork at all. Take a look at this install video from CJ Off-Road's YouTube channel to see what a drill mud flap installation looks like on a JL Wrangler.

Another category of splash guards to consider are molded vs flat guards. Not all wheel wells are made equally. Some vehicles need a wide range of coverage while others need only a small amount. While there are splash guards that can work across many vehicles, some splash guards are specifically molded to a particular vehicle.

All in all, splash guards are a great mod to consider for practically any vehicle. They are easy to install, won’t make a splash on your budget, and provide immediate benefits. If the roads near where you live are even the slightest bit nasty, then a pair of splash guards could keep your ride looking clean and running great.

This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.