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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A Bold Transformation: Upgrading the Fenders on my 2020 Jeep Gladiator

One of the biggest reasons I bought a Jeep Gladiator is the sheer customizability of it. Sure, the stock Gladiator looks great, has loads of interior amenities, and can hold its own on difficult trails.

But if you really want to level up the Gladiator’s game, aftermarket accessories are where it’s at. I’ve added a laundry list of goodies to my Jeep over the years, and am finally getting to the point where I think I’ve got it pretty well dialed in how I want.

The latest addition to my Gladiator are DV8 front and rear fender flares and DV8 inner fender liners. In today’s article, I’ll walk you step-by-step through my setup, including why I decided to upgrade, the specs on the new fenders, the installation process, and more.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

The Original Rubicon Fenders

fog lights

Every journey begins with a first step. In the case of my 2020 Jeep Gladiator, that initial point of departure was the original Rubicon Fenders.

Rugged, reliable, and representative of the Jeep brand’s off-road heritage, these fenders served their purpose well. Still, like many standard-issue components, they were designed with certain parameters in mind – parameters that, in my case, were about to be stretched.

The Gladiator’s unique structure, combining the classic Jeep design with the utility of a pick-up, make it an ideal vehicle for my overlanding and off-road adventures. With a cap and roof rack installed, it’s ready to carry all the equipment needed for a weekend in the wilderness or a spontaneous road trip. The setup is practical and versatile, but it came with one particular challenge – climbing onto the roof to secure items to the rack.

lighting for 4wd vehicles

This is where the limitations of the original Rubicon Fenders become evident. These fenders, while aesthetically pleasing and durable enough for typical off-road adventures, were not designed to bear the weight of a person. Even light pressure applied while stepping onto them feels precarious.

The fenders flex, creak, and generally seem unhappy with the task. It became clear to me: the OEM fenders, while excellent in many respects, were not meant to serve as an impromptu step or foothold.

lighting placement

This situation sparked my interest in an upgrade. It was time to look beyond the boundaries of the standard equipment, towards components that could provide the additional utility I needed without compromising the vehicle’s rugged appeal.

The search was on for fenders that could match the strength and robustness of the Jeep Gladiator itself, ones that could withstand the dual pressures of off-road driving and regular roof access. It was in this quest that I discovered the DV8 Spec Series Fender Flares and DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fender Liners, and so began the next chapter in my Gladiator’s transformation.




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Why I Decided to Upgrade: A Journey of Durability and Aesthetics

In the world of off-road vehicles, form follows function. Every feature is designed with a specific purpose in mind, whether it’s to traverse rocky terrain, ford rivers, or clamber up steep inclines.

Yet, there’s no rule that says these functional pieces can’t also add a dash of character and style to a vehicle. My decision to upgrade the fenders on my 2020 Jeep Gladiator was driven by these dual motivations: improved durability and striking aesthetics.

Firstly, durability was a key concern. Given the extensive use of the Gladiator, especially the frequency with which I find myself stepping onto the fenders to access the roof rack, I needed an upgrade that would withstand not only the typical off-road rigors but also this added stress. The DV8 Spec Series Fender Flares, with their robust steel construction, offer a level of durability that surpassed the standard Rubicon Fenders. This resilience was a major factor in my decision to upgrade.

front before and after dv8 fenders

But I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the appeal of the aggressive, rugged looks of the DV8 new fenders. Their micro-texture black finish, satin black accent panels, and integrated lighting system offer an aesthetic edge that really speaks to me.

It was like giving my Gladiator a set of armor, projecting an image of toughness and readiness for any adventure that lay ahead. From a visual standpoint, the addition of the new fenders, along with the wheels and tires, provides the most dramatic transformation to my Jeep’s appearance.

front no fender dv8 installation

The upgrade didn’t stop at the exterior fenders. I also replaced the stock inner fenders with DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fenders. Apart from their lightweight and sturdy aluminum construction, these inner fenders offer a significant advantage in terms of engine cooling. Their design allows for greater airflow into the engine bay, a feature that promises to be particularly beneficial during the hot summer months in California. It’s an often overlooked aspect, but a well-ventilated engine is crucial for overall vehicle performance and longevity.

All things considered, the decision to upgrade to these DV8 fenders was not just a choice—it was an investment in the Gladiator’s performance, durability, and style. This transformation, both practical and visual, marks a significant step forward in my Jeep’s journey. It is the next level of evolution, driven by a desire to enhance and customize my vehicle to meet the unique demands of my adventurous lifestyle.

Specifications of the New DV8 Fenders and Inner Fenders: A Blend of Form and Function

As I embarked on this transformative journey for my 2020 Jeep Gladiator, it was clear that my choice of components needed to be as tough and versatile as the vehicle itself. The new fenders and inner fenders I chose deliver on these requirements in spades. Here’s a deeper dive into their specifications:

Spec Series Fender Flares

before and after front dv8 installation

Constructed from 2.5mm/3mm steel plate and 3mm steel tube, the Spec Series Fenders from DV8 are designed for ultimate off-road protection. Their steel construction provides an unrivaled level of durability, essential for tackling the most challenging terrain without worrying about debris kicked up by the tires. The fenders are finished with a micro-texture black powder coat that not only offers extra protection against the elements but also contributes to their aggressive look.

The Spec Series Fenders include a clever feature that sets them apart: plug & play dual-stage daytime white running lights and amber turn signals. This integration ensures seamless replacement of the original turn signals, requiring no wiring and providing a distinctive visual appeal.

Moreover, the new fenders come with a rubber seal that runs along each fender’s length. This seal protects the body panels and prevents dust or small rocks from building up at the seam, an essential feature for the off-road enthusiast.

DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fenders

dv8 inner fenders

As for the inner fenders, the DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fenders stood out as the obvious choice. Made from lightweight aluminum, these inner fenders are designed to seal the engine compartment when using aftermarket fenders, thereby providing better protection from dust, debris, and water.

These inner fenders feature aluminum mesh panels that improve airflow to the engine compartment. This is a boon during the sweltering summer months in California, as a well-ventilated engine is less likely to overheat.

The DV8 inner fenders also bring the added convenience of easy access to the shocks and do not require the fender and inner fender to be removed for maintenance – a clear advantage over other models on the market. You can see this functionality in the image above from DV8.

This blend of robust materials, smart design features, and an aggressive aesthetic ensures that the new fenders and inner fenders not only met my requirements but also elevate my Jeep Gladiator’s capabilities and looks to a whole new level!

The Installation Process of the DV8 Fenders and Inner Fenders: A Journey of Adaptation and Precision

Like every aspect of off-roading, the process of installing the new DV8 fenders and inner fenders on my 2020 Jeep Gladiator was an exercise in adaptability, precision, and a bit of trial and error. While the experience was challenging, the end result was entirely worth the effort. Here’s a rundown of the installation journey, along with a few helpful tips I picked up along the way!

DV8 provides instructions for both the fenders and inner fenders on their respective product pages, which served as my primary guides throughout the process. Overall, the instructions were comprehensive and user-friendly, but I did encounter a few hitches that weren’t covered.

Before and after bracket removal dv8 installation

One particular challenge that stood out was the need to relocate a bracket on the frame (above, left) to properly fit the rear inner fenders. This issue wasn’t mentioned in the instructions, but it became evident during the install.

After a bit of brainstorming and tinkering, I was able to successfully move the bracket and secure a perfect fit for the inner fenders. The before-and-after transformation of this modification was a testament to the importance of adaptability and resourcefulness in the installation process.

dv8 fender close up

As for the DV8 front inner fenders, they came in two pieces that required a series of bolts for assembly. A key lesson I learned during this process was the importance of not fully tightening the bolts until the entire inner fender was correctly positioned. This approach allowed for easier adjustments during the installation and resulted in a better overall fit.

Another note worth mentioning is about the mesh part of the DV8 inner fenders. I noticed that some of the bolts holding down the mesh were slightly loose (you can see these bolts in the image above).

Given the potential vibrations while off-roading, it’s crucial to ensure that all these bolts are tightened appropriately to prevent any issues during your off-road adventures. It’s a small detail, but it can significantly impact the longevity and functionality of the inner fenders.

rear no fender dv8 installation

The installation of the DV8 fenders and inner fenders took about six hours for all the fenders and inner fenders, which isn’t bad. Honestly, it would’ve taken less time, but I was delayed because I overlooked a required tool for the installation: a Nutsert tool (shown below).

dv8 fender installation

I ordered this tool from Amazon as I couldn’t seem to find one locally. Harbor Freight had two in stock, but neither one was large enough – I needed one that covers both M6 and M8. Well, stupid me, the original tool I ordered only went up to M6! After realizing this goof, I ordered another one, so now I have two of these super handy tools!

In retrospect, the installation process was a rewarding experience that not only equipped me with a deeper understanding of my vehicle but also gave me a profound sense of satisfaction. There’s something uniquely gratifying about customizing your vehicle, overcoming installation challenges, and seeing the transformation unfold before your eyes.




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My Satisfaction with the Transformation: A New Look and Enhanced Capability

before and after rear dv8 installation

Looking back at this journey, the transformation of my 2020 Jeep Gladiator with the new DV8 Spec Series Fender Flares and DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fenders has been nothing short of remarkable. The decision to upgrade my fenders has proven to be one of the best modifications I’ve made to my Jeep.

Visually, the impact of the new fenders is striking. Their aggressive, rugged aesthetic is precisely the look I had envisioned for my Jeep Gladiator. The micro-texture black powder coat finish gives it a distinctive presence that sets it apart, and the satin black accent panels further contribute to the off-road-ready look. I believe that the combination of these new wheels, tires, and fenders has delivered the biggest punch in its visual transformation journey.

front dv8 left stock right

But beyond their aesthetics, these new DV8 fenders have also significantly enhanced my Jeep’s functionality and durability. The increased protection and clearance they offer for off-road articulation provide a much-needed reassurance when navigating challenging terrains. The added durability means I can now tackle tougher trails with less worry about damaging the bodywork.

The inner fenders, too, have made a considerable difference. The improved airflow to the engine compartment is a game-changer. This upgrade ensures the engine stays cooler, reducing the risk of overheating during intense off-road outings.

The satisfaction of installing these components myself has been an added bonus. I’m a car guy, so I love doing stuff like this. It’s been an enlightening process that has deepened my understanding of my vehicle’s inner workings and improved my installation skills.

And these things just look fantastic! The blend of the new aggressive look and enhanced capability has me itching to take an off-road adventure.

Conclusion: Transforming Your Jeep, One Fender at a Time

dv8 front installed

In concluding this journey of transformation, I’m reminded of an old saying that resonates profoundly with this experience: “Don’t be afraid to stand out.” That’s precisely what these DV8 Spec Series Fender Flares and DV8 Off Road Front Inner Fenders have allowed my 2020 Jeep Gladiator to do. They have set it apart from the crowd, not just visually but also in terms of its off-road capability.

For fellow Jeep owners looking to elevate their vehicles from the ordinary, I wholeheartedly recommend these upgrades. They have the power to transform your Jeep into a statement piece, a visual representation of your adventurous spirit. The rugged, bold aesthetic, coupled with the added functionality and durability, makes these fenders a must-have modification.

As I noted earlier, from a functional standpoint, these upgrades are invaluable to my overlanding vehicle. The additional protection, increased clearance, and improved engine cooling have undeniably boosted my confidence in tackling tougher terrains and extended off-road trips.

So, would I recommend these fenders and inner fenders? In a heartbeat! DV8 has truly hit a home run with these, and their design team certainly deserves more than just a pat on the back. Perhaps a round of cold beers might be in order, preferably shared around a campfire after a long day of off-roading (as long as someone else is doing the driving!).

In all seriousness, the journey of transforming my Jeep Gladiator has been a rewarding one. The result? A standout vehicle ready for anything the trail throws at it. So to all my fellow Jeep enthusiasts, I say this: don’t just blend into the crowd – stand out, go bold, and drive the Jeep of your dreams. After all, life’s too short to drive a boring vehicle!

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