Home / News / Wider 4x4 tires demand wider fender flares

Wider 4x4 tires demand wider fender flares

Dec 15, 2023Dec 15, 2023

Flares and flaps are a must for safety, courtesy, and the law

Some vehicle modifications are just for looks, but plenty more are for function — especially when it comes to proper off-roaders. Oversized and extra-wide tires are common characters in both categories as owners aim to improve off-road performance — or at least to make it look like they know what a trail is. Even on the road, however, an extra-wide stance can also aid cornering stability on trucks with lifted suspension.

Sometimes the wider track can be achieved by simply swapping tires on original rims. For extreme width, owners will often use rims with a more pronounced offset, and/or a set of spacer plates mounted between the rims and wheel hubs. But before you head out to drop thousands on the wide-track treatment, check some traffic and road regulations to make sure your enhancements don't hinder your travels in the eyes of Johnny Law.

Wheel spacer plates have been outlawed in Ontario since 2017. Wheel spacers are machined plates with their own set of wheel studs that mount to the vehicle's wheel hubs to provide an extra-wide stance. These shouldn't be confused with hub rings, which are often used to mount universal-fit aftermarket alloy wheels to a vehicle's unique wheel-hub diameter. These are legal and critical to include if you mount a set of rims with an inner hub-ring size that's not an exact match to the hub size on the vehicle. Without them, the entire weight of the vehicle will be suspended on the wheel studs — a burden that those fasteners are not designed to handle.

When it comes to extra-wide wheels, many jurisdictions across Canada have laws that require mud flaps or fender extensions to reduce any wheel spray they produce. Some laws, such as in Alberta, specifically require any protection to extend to the outer edge of the tire. As a result, some vehicles contravene the law as soon as they leave dealers’ lots, even without modifications. For example, Jeep's popular Wrangler model doesn't meet Alberta's requirement for a protective body panel or splash-guard to extend below the rear axle's horizontal centre line. Fortunately for Wrangler fans, it was up to Transport Canada to approve that design, not provincial governments.

Still, the reasons for adding splash protections are simple: to prevent road spray from hitting vehicles approaching from behind. Water spray isn't as pressing of an issue, but the more serious risks of paint-chipping and glass-cracking solid debris such as stones or gravel remain.

Many modified truck and SUV owners don't think they’ll ever be caught or ticketed for these infractions, and statistics tend to back them up. But if they’re pulled over for an unrelated issue, the chances of catching a bonus fine for extra-wide tires without splash protection climb. Avoid the risks altogether by mounting appropriate fender flares and mud guards when you install the wider tires.

Brian Turner is still kicking and doing his best to put over 4 decades of frontline parts and service experience to work helping you understand not only how your vehicle works, but how to get the best deals when getting it repaired or maintained. He started with us at the Ottawa Citizen and hasn't looked back. He survived rooming with David Booth during his university days and we all admire him for that.

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

To contribute to the conversation, you need to be logged in. If you are not yet registered, create your account now - it's FREE.

5 Affordable EVs

Small trucks

Popular Crossover SUVs

Practical 3-row SUVs

Minivans for the whole family

Compact Cars

Luxury SUVs

Affordable AWD SUVs

Sign up to receive's Blind-Spot Monitor newsletter on Wednesdays and Saturdays

A welcome email is on its way. If you don't see it, please check your junk folder.

The next issue of's Blind-Spot Monitor will soon be in your inbox.

We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again