Splash guards, or as they’re sometimes called, mud guards, are one of the most
quintessential truck accessories you
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. Whether you’re looking to install some splash guards onto your truck,
or you’re just curious about what
they’re for, we’ve got the answers you need right here on CJ Off-Road’s resource
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.
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
by a rock flung up by a poorly splash-guarded truck, then you’ll understand why
these are legally required.
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
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
Take this particular pair of molded splash
guards for the S197 Mustang. This particular shape wouldn’t work on any
other vehicle. Because of its
specific design, however, it has a much more natural fit on the Mustang. It
isn’t just a flap of rubber hanging
behind the wheel, it’s an extension of the bodywork.
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.