Cutting up your fenders to install aftermarket parts can seem like a daunting task. This article not only covers how to properly cut your fenders, but also all the different aftermarket fender options available to you.By Brett Foote – November 25, 2015

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

If cutting up fenders sounds like a scary task to you, you’re not alone. Cutting fenders is something that you can’t really afford to mess up, unless you have the cash to go out and buy a new fender when you do. But cutting your fenders is often necessary when you want to install some aftermarket fenders, which will give your Jeep a custom look and, in some cases, allow you to fit a bigger tires underneath. So before you start cutting away, check out your options and continue reading, as we will detail the correct way to cut your fenders.

Table of Contents

Fender Modification Overview

Whether you simply want to cut your fenders for clearance, looks, or you are looking to buy an aftermarket set of fender flares, there are many options available to you when it comes to fender modification.

Cut FendersFender FlaresBolt-On Fenders
Price$5 to $10$100 to $500$100 to $750
DIY LevelModerateModerateModerate

Best Quality: Bolt-On or Fender Flares

Best Value: Cut Fenders

By far the most popular options for upgrading fenders are cutting, flares, and complete bolt-on fenders. All three present their own unique challenges as well as costs, and all three can give you a dramatically different look depending on which option you choose.

Cut Fenders

Price – $5-10

DIY Level – Moderate

Rating – Recommended

Cutting fenders is a popular option for Jeep owners for a number of reasons. One, anybody with a steady hand and a cutting wheel can do it. Two, it costs virtually nothing. If you don’t mind a little DIY and you aren’t afraid of messing up your factory fenders, cutting is a good way to go if you don’t want to spend a lot of cash to get a custom look. Cutting fenders can also give you more clearance for those monster tires you’ve been drooling over. Recommended for the budget-minded Jeeper, as this is an inexpensive and relatively easy way to give your fenders a custom look.

Fender Flares

Price – $100-500

DIY Level – Moderate

Rating – Recommended

If the thought of cutting up your fenders gives you an unsettling feeling in your stomach, a set of aftermarket fender flares might be right for you. You get the same great look and tire clearance, but without the scary DIY stuff. Simply unbolt your factory fenders, bolt on a set of flares and you’re in business. The trade off is cost, of course, as a set of flares can cost you hundreds of dollars instead of tens of dollars. Recommended for those with a bit more to spend on their toy.

Bolt-On Fenders

Price – $100-750

DIY Level – Moderate

Rating – Recommended

If you don’t like the looks of cut fenders or fender flares, or you simply want a little more coverage to prevent water and mud from flying everywhere, a set of complete bolt-on fenders might be right for you. Bolt-on fenders are easy to install and can give you Jeep a seriously tough custom look. The trade off is cost, as you can spend literally as much as you want depending on what option you choose. Recommended for those looking for the ultimate tough look for their Jeep

How to Cut Your Fenders

Custom fenders allow for bigger tires, better visibility of what the wheels are doing when you’re on the trail, and finally (as well as most importantly) they make your Jeep look awesome. However, if you’re a bit antsy about cutting up your pride and joy, here’s the DIY info you need to be at ease.

Materials Needed

  • Masking tape
  • Pry bar
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Cutting wheel, air grinder, or Sawzall

Step 1 – Prepare to cut

It’s best, but not absolutely necessary, to remove the inner fender guard before cutting. To do so, remove the rivets that hold the fender guard in place. You may need a pry bar or air chisel to do so. Next, remove all the plugs that hold the fender guard in place, then remove the assembly and set it to the side.

Figure 1. Remove the inner fender guard.

Step 2 – Cut the fenders

Measure off the area that needs to be cut (will vary based on what aftermarket part you are using) and carefully mask it off with masking tape. Using a cutting tool, use the tape as a guide and carefully cut along the edge of the tape. Take your time while cutting to ensure that your lines are straight and you don’t take off too much material. Set the inner fender guard back in place using the newly cut fender as a measure of where to cut it. Cut the inner fender to match. If necessary, use some 80 grit sandpaper to take care of any rough edges, then clean them with a solvent before reinstalling.

Figure 2. Cut the fenders.

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