The huge box of flares arrived and unfortunately had to sit in the house for a week while we finished up the first part of our FJC Mini project (Page 14), so we would have room for the install. In the meantime we downloaded the instructions to the iPad and went through them a couple of times. While Bushwacker includes instructions in the box, they’re printed in black & white so we recommend using a computer or iPad to view the PDF you can download from their website. A digital device is also very helpful in zooming in on photos during the install. Installation is pretty straight forward, except that the instructions are written for an FJ with stock bumpers, so we knew from the beginning changes would be needed.
The first major obstacle we ran into were the clips that hold the stock flares on. All the bolts came out fairly easily, but the plastic ‘push in’ clips were a real pain. After nearly 70,000 miles on the OEM flares – the clips get brittle and quite ‘stuck’ in their position. We didn’t manage to get any of them out without breaking, luckily Bushwacker includes new clips so the originals can be discarded. Removing the clips took by far the most time of the two hour install.
We were a bit concerned that the Aluminess front bumper would have clearance issues, but as it turns out the fit is absolutely perfect, almost like the flare was made specifically for this bumper. We did need to mod the small piece of plastic Bushwacker includes to hold the stock plastic in the wheel well. Since some of that was removed during the Aluminess install, we simply drilled an extra hole in the retainer plastic and it functions perfectly. Both front flares went on exactly according to the instructions, so it was on to the rear of the truck.
In order to work around the bumper wings on the stock rear bumper, Bushwacker includes add-on pieces for the bottom of the rear flares. After removing the original rear flares, it only takes a few minutes to fit up the Pocket Style flares. The included instructions have you install the add-on pieces before you mount the flares to the truck, but after a test fit we noticed that the add-ons wouldn’t work with our LoD rear bumper, some trimming would be needed. We mounted the main flare piece first, then got the rotary tool and utility knife out to modify the add-on piece. All that was needed was a notch near the top of each piece, and a little trimming on the bottom half, and our flare was complete. Of course, by ‘a little’ I mean an hour or two of trimming, fitting, trimming, and fitting. Luckily our new photographer & number one tool guy, Jim, is a whiz with a utility knife. If you have an aftermarket rear bumper, you can count on some type of trimming to get the add-on pieces installed correctly.
The results speak for themselves with these flares. We really couldn’t be happier with the new look of our FJ. The Bushwacker Pocket Style flares give the FJ a much more aggressive, rugged look, and provide more space for larger tires the next time we upgrade. If you’re in the market for an inexpensive performance + aesthetic upgrade, give Bushwacker a call.
To get your copy of the October 2011 issue of FJC Magazine: