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Tire Clearance & Style: Tacoma Fender Flares

Tire Clearance & Style: Tacoma Fender Flares

Toyota Tacoma pickups are one of the trendiest trucks on the market. Due to the law of attraction, many off-road trends will follow this platform. The trends that generally follow are utilitarian friendly though; they’re practical upgrades to accommodate the truck’s intended lifestyle. One particular aftermarket trend that goes hand in hand with these trucks is the use of fender flares. Fender flares are an absolute must for off-road trucks, especially those that have big tires, fling mud, and spend some time on the highway.

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The immediate impression of fender flares is that they're an appearance mod, designed to outfit your Tacoma in a more rugged fashion. In truth, fender flares allow you to fit wider tires on your truck without getting in trouble with the law. Most fender flares are constructed to handle slight off-road impacts, improving your Tacoma's ability to take side impacts as well.

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What are Fender Flares

The areas above the wheel wells are exposed to some serious abuse. Large, wide tires like to pick up and fling rocks and mud all over the place. Mud flaps protect the area behind the wheel but won’t stack up when mud is flung upward of the wheel. Flares work to protect the truck from said debris. They also are needed when tire clearance is an issue. Wider tires can stick out quite a bit and if they are too far out from the wheel well, Johnny Law can give you some trouble. Not only that, a truck without fender flares and wide tires does look pretty goofy.

Stock Fender Flares

Toyota Tacomas arrive with fender flares from the factory. This is a nice measure taken by the manufacturer to add additional protection to the truck where it’s needed. With the demand for an OEM look, these flares are a bit on the small end and cover what’s needed when it comes to stock tires. 

For guys and gals who are looking to make some minor changes and use the truck modestly, these flares will make the cut. If you are going to make big changes to the tires and wheels used or are going to do some serious mudslinging, you’re going to want to ditch these stock flares in favor of something more aggressive.

Aftermarket Fender Flares

Making the move to aftermarket flares is something Tacoma owners have been doing for a very long time. The aftermarket manufacturers of fender flares have taken full advantage of this trend and have made any kind of flare you will need regardless of the intended use. 

When you’re shopping around the list of options can be quite confusing and you will benefit from a heads up. In order to pick the best option for your particular truck, you will want to take a look at what is out there and balance it with your build.


Off-roading with aggressive tires will mean that debris is flying everywhere. Mud can wind up on the windshield but rocks tend to stay within range of the fender. Tall flares are designed to keep these rocks from making their mark on your truck. Even if the tires aren’t all that much wider than the factory set, this is where you should turn your attention. At the very least, you should consider a set of taller flares when any sort of off-road travels are on the agenda.

Tire Coverage

Wide tires go a long way off-road. The more contact patch you have, the more traction the truck will have to work with. This also means the tires will stick out further from the wheel housing. Sure, taller flares will help to an extent but you want to make sure the flares reach out far enough for adequate coverage. Also, consider the laws in your area or areas traveled. Wider flares are necessary in a lot of states when the tires stick out further than the stock tires.

Flat Fenders

Flat fenders cover a lot of areas in this department. This is the most costly option considering the whole fender is replaced as opposed to simply being modified. Flat fenders provide additional tire clearance along with coverage and protection from flying debris. This design is best for those looking to run a big lift with tires around the 35” mark. It does provide a very aggressive look, but function is above form and these should only be considered for the most extreme builds.

Fender Flare Material

Due to the harsh environment fender flares are subjected to, you might be surprised to find that they are made from plastic when you put your hands on them. Don’t be fooled; ABS plastic is durable material that can stand up to the test. For those who have style in mind, this material can also be worked with and painted. 

Some manufacturers and suppliers may even offer the flares as painted to match the factory paint of your Tacoma. It is an additional expense but for many, this is well worth it considering they can maintain the OE feel regardless of how extreme the flares are.

You Can Drill if You Want To

Flares are anchored to the body of the truck in two manners. Most will want to stay away from having to drill into the sheet metal and will reach for tape on alternatives.

Flares that are drilled into the body of the truck are more secure and this option should be taken when you know you will be bumping up into them. Tape-on flares may come off easier but are no weak link and will keep you from damaging the truck. The proper choice is in the eye of the beholder but tape-on flares are for those who have resale value in mind.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro