Mud Flaps Pros & Cons (Are They Worth It?)

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You live in the country, and dirt and grime keep getting slung onto the beautiful paint job of your new car or truck. What are the pros and cons of mud flaps?

The mud flap or guard's purpose is to protect the vehicle's appearance from road debris. While mud flaps can help to keep grime away, they can also be a hassle to maintain or replace should they fall off. Considering the cost of touch up, mudguards should be installed at the very least.

If you live in a rural area or work in the backwoods, you know what a hassle it is to constantly clean your vehicle from the clumps of mud that your rear tires sling everywhere. The residue looks terrible; frankly, mud has no business even coming close to your pride and joy. After all, you spent hard-earned money on this new ride and want to protect it. You know you need to do something to keep the mud from splashing, but what to use? Is it okay to install mud flaps? Do they work anyway? How expensive are they to install, and what size should you get? There are many questions, and we are here to solve all your mud flap questions.

Table of Contents


What is a Mud Flap?

You might laugh, but it is a valid question. A mud flap is a hanging piece of rubber, plastic, or metal that hangs behind the rear wheels and acts as a shield to prevent mud, water, and small rocks from being thrown up from the road. The mud flap keeps the debris from chipping the paint or clinging to the side of the truck.

Mud flaps come in all shapes and sizes and are built for cars, trucks, SUVs, and even motorcycles or scooters. Most are attached to the inner rear tire well and act as a deterrent to the water and road debris that a tire can spew upward. A well-positioned mud flap can guard the vehicle’s appearance and reduce costly repairs and touchups.

Doesn’t Every Car Have Some Kind of Mud Flap?

No, not all cars or trucks come with mud flaps installed from the factory. While most auto manufacturers have mud flaps that can be purchased or added as an option, most owners of new vehicles will have to purchase them separately.

What Are the Advantages of Mud Flaps?

There are several advantages to installing mud flaps on a car or truck.

Protective Shield

An adequately installed mud flap can deter water, dirt, and grime from being slung up your rear tires. Every time you travel, the rubber surface of the tire makes contact with the road. At times, the tire grabs residue, water, and debris and lifts it off the pavement. Since the tire is moving in a forward motion, the debris is often pushed toward the rear of the vehicle.

Since a mud flap is a primary shield against road debris impacting your vehicle's paint job, it is essential to remember that touching up a car can be a hassle and cost big bucks. The aggravation of finding an excellent touch-up guy, and then paying for the paint and the work could have been solved with just a bit of forethought. This is why I love the mudguards on the back of my current vehicle.


Since mud flaps come in all shapes and sizes, they can add to the charisma and appearance of a vehicle. Many truck owners choose mud flaps with a saying or express part of their personality.

Safety for Other Cars

If you have ever followed behind a truck or car and had a rock thrown into your windshield, you know how dangerous a roadway can be. American highways are littered with debris, gravel, and grime. A mud flap can keep rocks from flying and disabling the windshield or paint job of the car traveling behind you.

Protection of Pedestrians

In addition, a mud flap can keep water from spraying up and drenching the pedestrian waiting at the street corner. If you live in the city, you know how awful it is to have a car speed through a puddle, splashing muddy water onto your brand-new dress or pants, and leave you dripping from the encounter.

What are the Disadvantages of Mud Flaps?

While there are certainly some significant advantages, there are some negative things to consider about installing mud flaps.

Wind Resistance

Depending on the mud flap's size and position, they tend to act as a wind resistor dragging down the aerodynamics of the vehicle. While the gas cost is probably relatively negligible, it still is a reason not to install mud flaps, particularly large ones.

Mud Flaps Can Break

Hanging mud flaps will eventually come dislodged from the fender well and look shabby. If you have ever seen a pickup truck with one mud flap hanging at a weird angle, then you know how ridiculous they can look over time.

Care When Washing the Car

Because a mud flap is an added option, care must be taken when washing the car or truck so the spray from the nozzle doesn’t dislodge them from the fender well. This means that you have to be extra careful running your car through the tire shine option of your local car wash. Heaven forbid, but you might have to wash your tires with a garden hose.

Damage to the Undercarriage of the Car

If a mud flap is not installed correctly, and falls off, it can cause damage to the underside of your vehicle. In addition, instead of moving water and debris away from the tire, the mud flap kicks it back toward its exposed surface. The potential exists for the debris to hit the rotating tire and get launched toward the undercarriage.

What is the Difference Between Mud Guards and Mud Flaps?

Many people confuse mudguards with mud flaps. A mudguard is a curved piece of plastic positioned around the corner of the rear fender well, where the exterior paint job meets the tire opening. They are glued or screwed on and act as a small shield to protect the exterior paint job of the vehicle.

Most cars and SUVs have mud guards installed. While both act the same issue, mudguards just look more aesthetically pleasing to the vehicle's appearance.

What Does It Cost To Have Mud Flaps (Guards) Installed?

Considering that the average labor hour at a repair facility is above $130 an hour, you should expect to pay that much to install a mud flap. The project takes about an hour, depending on whether the technician has to drill into the rear fender well.

Can I Install Mud Flaps (Guards) Myself?

No law says that you can’t. However, remember that if you install them correctly, you could permanently damage the appearance of your vehicle. Even though it might only be a couple of screws, I prefer to have someone else install them.

If you have car experience, it might be a project you want to tackle. However, if you aren’t a technician or a body man, you might want to consider asking someone who is.

Some mud flaps or splash guards come with pre-drilled holes, making the installation relatively easy. Using the mudguard as a template, drill the hole or insert the screw into it and tighten it. If there are no pre-drilled holes to use, you will need to attach the mudguard to the car using the screws to mount it.

There are lots of installation videos online that can help guide you through the installation process. Chances are there is someone on YouTube who has tackled the installation of a pair just like the ones you are holding in your hand. There is nothing wrong with ensuring you know the ins and outs of installing before you start.

Be careful to put the right mudguard (flap) on the right side of the car. Nothing is worse than discovering that you have installed the wrong mudguard on the wrong wheel well.

(You’d be surprised how often it happens).

Why Don’t More Cars Have Mud Guards (Flaps) Installed from the Factory?

There are several reasons why more cars aren’t coming off the assembly line with installed mud flaps, and most have to do with money.

Many owners don’t like the look of mud flaps on their cars. While many manufacturers offer good mudguards that don’t detract from the appearance too much, not everyone loves them.

The manufacturers prefer to get into owners' wallets in any way possible. So, to offer owners the option of installing or not, they left mud flaps off, knowing that if owners wanted them, they would have to pay for the part and the installation.

Do Mud Flaps Rust?

Metal mud flaps can rust over time. However, most mud flaps are made of highly durable plastic compounds that don’t rust or fade over time.