Review – JCR Vanguard Fender Flares

4WAAM-JCR-Full Set up

Eventually, after off-roading enough times, you realize that you probably want to upgrade your stock fender flares with something a little more durable or stylish. JCR off-road offers a full system that, as usual, is full of configuration options. The photo shows the Vanguard (full width) front and rear fender flares with the front inner fender liners. If you take a look at their site, you will see they offer options that range from deleting the flares entirely in addition to their narrow, medium, and full width flares.

Nice Look & Capability

The fender flare hardware itself is very heavy duty, CNC cut 3/16” steel. It sports a much more angular look than other flares on the market and you have the option to powder coat on order or get them unfinished. There is a hole cut in the front fenders for an after-market LED marker light. With a little arts and crafts time spent on the inner liner, the finished product can look pretty amazing.

4WAAM-JCR-Inner Fender Liner

Regardless of the width you decide to go with, they all flow into their top tier slider (reviewed in a separate article) perfectly. If sliding off a big rock, there is next to no chance that the obstacle will catch the lower portions of the fender flares. It will just transition up the side of the bullet proof flare.

Inner Liner Installation

The printed directions were easy to follow and installed relatively easy. As the directions even point out, there will be a couple of areas that are tight and require some pretty awkward arm positions to get everything bolted. To avoid the liners from rattling against your frame, a little tweaking may be necessary to get enough clearance before final tightening.

If you choose not to get the inner liners, the front fender flare directions clearly tell you how to modify and install your stock liners (their video even shows you). On that note, the stock liners are actually a good way to go if you want to maintain as much space in the wheel well as possible for full front tire tuck. Almost every after-market front inner fender liner system sacrifices a little clearance and the JCR are no different. Even the 35’s we run were impacting the fender liners before full tuck.

Front Flare Installation

Most everything during the installation followed the JCR provided instructions perfectly. We had no problems installing the lower reinforcement bracket and the mounting surfaces on the fender flares lined up well.

4WAAM-JCR-Front Fender Bracket

We ran into issues once we tried to place the upper support bracket. We first attempted to place the bracket following the directions to the letter but could not get the holes lined up adequately. The holes in the bracket and holes in the Jeep fender just wouldn’t line up enough to get bolts started even with judicial use of pry bars. The predrilled holes didn’t seem to up high enough on the bracket. Then, we decided to use the factory 10mm bolts to force the bracket up as high as possible. This improved the location of the holes but still not enough to get the bolts in (see the alignment in the blue circles). In order to get everything lined up properly, we resorted to lengthening the upper bracket holes just enough to where we could get the bolts started. We made sure to ream out as little as possible so the bolts still had to be started with some force applied upwards by a pry bar.

Once we had the upper support bracket holes reamed out, everything installed nice and solid.

Rear Flare Installation

The first set of rear flares we attempted to install didn’t match the complex mounting contour needed to lay flush against the body fender. The primary problem was transitioning from a flat mounting surface to the diagonal mounting surface on the front upper corner of the flare. The flare had to be trimmed significantly to dress into that area properly. We contacted JCR and they promptly sent out a new set.

4WAAM-JCR-Upper Corner Gap

The contour was a little better but there was still significant impact in that corner. We backlit the area to show the point of impact and how it forces the rest of the flare away from the body. If you force the flare to the body, a great deal of pressure is transferred to this point and we all know the body sheet metal is pretty thin.

4WAAM-JCR-Rear Planes Illustration

This group of photos illustrates how complex the contour is even after the upper front curve. The diagonal mounting surface, indicated by yellow, travels all the way down. The blue shows the flat plane on the body (corresponding colors for mating surface on flares). But close inspection leads us to the second major problem we encountered.

4WAAM-JCR-Flare to Body Impact

 

At least on the Vanguards I had ordered, on both sets, there was almost a quarter inch of steel protruding from where the diagonal mounting surface should round out. As you can see from the contour gauge (top left), there is no area for this extra metal to tuck into. As illustrated by the line diagrams, this causes that entire lip to impact the thin sheet metal on your body. Also, it creates an air gap that the bolts have to span to seat into the nutserts.

4WAAM-JCR-Impact and creasing

After quite a bit of shaping to the upper front corner, we were able to get both sides to lay flat against the body and get all the bolts secured. I drove the Jeep for one week with the flares mounted and took one off road trip (zero impacts to the fender flares). The above pictures show what the mounting area looked like after we took the original set off. The nutserts were getting ripped out, large grit dirt was building up between the flares and the body, and the body was getting creased from that extra lip on the flares. The air gap caused between the body and flare mounting surface by that extra lip of metal does not allow for proper mounting. If I was going to run them, I would need to contour the bend (seen below in the blue ellipse), trim the lip off (at the dotted red line from bottom to upper corner), and round out the diagonal mounting area.

4WAAM-JCR-Fix-Fender-Flare

Top Caliber Customer Service & Final Thoughts

Despite the issues we ran into, JCR was extremely helpful throughout the entire process. When I encountered these problems, their whole team, including management, was very responsive and timely. The JCR team followed up often and offered a level of support that I haven’t experienced with many other vendors. Even after I decided that these fenders just weren’t working for me, they continue to be extremely professional, helpful, and I look forward to trying out other products they produce and are developing.

In summary, to be fair, yes, we ran into a few problems trying to get these flares to fit. There is a lot of metal involved when trying to make a full width, 3/16th inch thick steel fender flare and it’s possible that the jig could have been off. At the time, I think I was one of their first customers to try these out. In the end, the flares themselves were very well put together, certainly solid, and once mounted, tied into their Crusader Rock Slider perfectly.

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