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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Installing mud flaps on a Land Rover LR4

This post is an attempt to convey, in writing and via pictures, how to install the rear mud flaps on a 2010 Land Rover LR4 (while I suspect other years are similar, I do not know for sure).

I consider this project to be moderately difficult, but only because there's a tight space in which you need to navigate an anchoring bracket and screw it in place.  If you are impatient or have large hands, this project will most likely frustrate you something awful.  That said, if you want to save what I've seen on the web as over $300 dealers are charging to install these things, read on...

As far as time goes, the first one took a while (I want to say maybe an hour) because there's no instructions online and the paper ones only adequate at best.  Like IKEA, they contain only pictures, but unlike IKEA, there's no head-scratching stick figure with a question mark above his head and a toll-free phone number to call.  The second only took around 15 minutes.

Before starting, check to make sure you have all the parts:  you should have two mud flaps and two anchoring brackets (all four labeled L or R), four screws, and four plastic anchoring tab things (mine were blue).

If you are able to remove the tires, do so, it will make this a lot easier.  If not, raise the air suspension to the highest setting (Off-Road Mode).  It's not great, but it does give you a little more room.

Lying on your back slide under the rear of your car behind one of your rear wheels.  This is from the right side of my vehicle:

Figure 1: The bottom of the right rear corner panel - note the
square, fixed anchor bracket in the middle of the picture.
Unscrew that bottom screw and set it aside.  In the middle of the picture you can see an anchor bracket that's attached to the rear corner panel - the anchor bracket that is included in the kit will attach here.  I believe that aluminum grid thing on the right is a heat shield for the exhaust (oh, and on that note, let the exhaust cool before doing this.  Getting a 3rd degree burn while installing mud flaps should not be considered a "battle scar.").

Press one of the plastic anchor tab things into the square hole of the fixed anchor bracket shown in Figure 1:

Figure 2:  Insert one of the plastic anchor tabs into the
fixed ancor bracket attached to the corner panel.
Remove the screw shown in this picture (this is in rear part of the wheel well) and set it aside (don't mix it up with the screw you removed above in Figure 1, you can tell them apart because the screw from the bottom is longer):

Figure 3:  The second mounting screw that needs to be removed.
This is a zoomed out picture of Figure 3 above - note the little dimple in the middle of the picture:

Figure 4:  A zoomed out view of the rear portion of the wheel well.
This dimple is where one of the two screws that came in the kit will go.  Recall that the anchor brackets that came with the kit are labeled L and R for the appropriate side of your car.  Note that the bracket has a round hole and a square hole.  Following the paper instructions insert one of the plastic anchor tabs into the square hole as indicated and set it aside (I apologize that I never took a picture of this).

The instructions say to screw this anchor bracket from the kit into the fixed anchor bracket shown in Figure 1 and then when mounting the mud flap screw the middle anchor screw through the wheel well and into the plastic anchor tab on the kit anchor bracket but I found that doing so made it impossible thread the middle screw into the plastic anchor tab.  I suspect if I had taken the wheel off, it might have been significantly easier.

I used a pocket knife to poke a hole through the dimple shown above in Figure 4 above and ensured that I could hand thread one of the kit screws through this hole.  Then I held up the mud flap in its mounting position and threaded the screw through the hole so that it could hang in place without me holding it (tip: if you thread the screw through so that it actually pokes through it makes attaching to the kit anchor bracket easier):

Figure 5:  Loosely thread a kit screw through the mud flap and dimple hole.
Now take the lose anchor bracket and thread the plastic anchor tab onto the screw.  This part sucks because the heat shield is not forgiving, it has sharp edges, and there's not a lot of room for your hands and fingers to maneuver.  There were several ways I attempted to do this.  The way that worked was to actually hold the screw in place with my left hand and rotate the kit anchor bracket around the screw so as to at least get it partially threaded such that it would not come apart if the bracket was moved or bumped:

Figure 6:  Thread the kit bracket on to the middle
anchor screw that goes through the mud flap.
Don't tighten the screw all the way.  You will need some play to align the round hole in the kit anchor bracket (shown above in Figure 6) with the plastic anchor tab (also shown above in Figure 6).  Thread a kit screw through the round hole of the kit anchor bracket and into the plastic anchor tab:

Figure 7:  Take a kit screw and attach the kit anchor
bracket to the fixed bracket on the corner panel.
Go ahead and tighten this screw and then tighten the screw going through the middle mud flap.  Tightening the screw that goes through the middle of the mud flap was a major pain in the ass with the tire mounted.  Even my shortest Phillips screw driver (probably 3") was still too long to fit in the gap between the tire and the head of the screw.  I wound up having to take a Phillips bit meant for a drill, clamp it with a Vise Grips, and use quarter turns and applicable back pressure to keep the bit in the screw to be able to tighten it completely (it would have taken mere seconds with the tire removed):

Figure 8:  Tighten the fixed anchor bracket screw first
and then the screw that goes through the mud flap.
If you made it this far, congratulations!  You're almost finished.  The last two screws go in very easily and should only take a minute.

Re-attach the top screw (the shorter one) through the mud flap and tighten:

Figure 9:  Re-attach the top screw through the mud flap and tighten.
Finally, re-attach the bottom screw (the longer one) through the mud flap and ensure you go through the original hole in the bottom of the wheel well lining and into the existing metal tab attached to the rear corner panel:

Figure 10:  Re-attach the bottom screw to complete the installation.
That's it!  Repeat the steps for the other side of the car and you just saved yourself over $300.

Please let me know if you discover any errors in my installation and I'll update.  Thanks.