Call them what you may, mud flaps, splash aprons, splash or mud guards. It's the piece of material that is attached to the wheel well with the sole purpose of defraying and reducing the spray or splash of debris from tyres.
Pickup trucks, utilities and SUVs are instances of what type of automobiles commonly make the upgrade to OEM splash guards. The difference in names for this particular accessory is regional. Most countries refer to them as mud flaps. Splash or Mud Guards are terms utilised in the Midwest of the United States and Splash Aprons aren't unusual on the east coast of the U.S.
Everyday dealers internationally sell new pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans that are not sensibly equipped with the correct type of splash guard. Driving in rain, snow, mud and even dust without protection may cause damage to your own vehicle or to those driving behind you.
Many of us view mud guards to be superfluous or that they may get in the way while 4x4 driving. Many mass-produced and OEM mud guards are sometimes made from a contoured low quality plastic and unfortunately cover a minimal area of the tire. This type of mud flap is subject to breakage in extraordinary temperatures and does not offer much anti-spray protection.
All-rubber splash guards offer more pliability but have a tendency to sail up defeating the purpose. All metal, generally stainless steel, are prone to bending or being easily dented.
Then why isn't there a better alternative?
Fortunately there are a number of after market manufacturers of high quality mudflaps. They utilise specially formulated polymers with custom lengths and widths to accommodate most applications including road, rally and recreational off-road. Many of the custom-made varieties are temperature tested for extreme conditions as well.
The critical items to consider when making your selection are;
1. What purpose will they be used for the majority of their life - road off-road etc...
2. What's the average temperature as some polymers are prone to cracking and bending in extreme conditions
3. If the custom-made mud flap attach to the existing mud flap as an extension or as a replacement
4. Do they require additional weight so as to avoid excessive lift or 'sailing'
Before purchasing your guards also consider consulting your dealer if the vehicle is under warranty.
It's also a good idea to discuss your choice with the retailer or supplier so that your mud flaps prove to be the right choice the first time around.