As I get more comfortable with my rig and RV life, I feel more confident to make modifications and changes to improve the experience. After successfully adding carpet to my RV steps I decided, surely, I could hack my way to adding mud flaps to the tow vehicle.
You probably don’t have the same 2017 Chevy Express Van as I do, but I think the how-to instructions are general enough to be applicable for many vehicles.
As I unhooked Quill from the van when I arrived in Texas, I noticed something. First, I noticed dots and splats of black on the front. As I looked closer, I saw more on the sides near the bottom. The same dots and splats were also on the van.
It looked like paint but a swipe with my finger told me it was sticky tar (or whatever it is they use) from road construction. Ugh.
I tried to let rain do the work of cleaning everything. But that was wishful thinking. The sticky nature of the stuff meant it wasn’t coming off easily. After a sufficient amount of procrastination, I finally got a bucket of water and a scrub sponge and started the job.
That was when I noticed something even worse.
The front of my beautiful trailer looked like a chickenpox epidemic had hit and in its wake left nasty ugly scars. Tiny pits and pockmarks across the nose of the fiberglass. No matter how hard I scrubbed, those weren’t getting fixed with a sponge.
I was heart-sick. All that perfection. Gone. My trailer now had its first battle scars.
At first, I told myself passing trucks must’ve been the cause. But the van is the only thing directly in front of the trailer so I had to accept that I’d done it to myself.
And it surprised me too because the only dirt or gravel roads I’d been down were the ones in campgrounds. It wasn’t just a couple of pits. Certainly, campgrounds alone couldn’t have caused the extensive damage. Construction zones, it was the only answer.
The Solution: Mud Flaps
It was obvious that I had to figure out a way for the van not to further damage the trailer. There are people who put covers over the front of their trailers (or over their towed cars in the case of Class A and C motorhomes towing a vehicle).
But, I didn’t want to change the aesthetic of my trailer. Not if I didn’t have to. I decided to start with mud flaps. And while my first thought was to wonder where I’d take the van to get them installed, upon reflection I decided to first see if I could do it myself.
- The most important thing with this hack is to make sure you purchase the correct mud flaps. I checked a couple sources to verify both recommended the same ones. Returning things is more of a pain on the road so I wanted to get the order right the first time.
- Mud flaps are also referred to as splash guards and mud guards.
- This is obvious, but it’s also something I know many of us don’t do. Read the instructions before and during the installation.
- Have all the tools you’ll need on hand before you start the install. This is a: do-as-I-suggest-not-as-I-did tip.
How Long Did the Project Take
Re-read the fourth bullet above and you can guess how long the project took. Longer than it should have! I estimate the project takes an hour. It took me four. Yep, four hours.
I got sidetracked for two hours looking for a half-inch socket wrench. I have tools in various places. It seemed strategic when I separated them into four different spots. It seemed equally stupid not to have everything in my toolbox (in one spot) as I searched and searched for a single tool.
Still two hours?
I have every other size of socket wrench so I just knew I had to have a half-inch one. They came in sets, after all. I refused to give up the search. I started looking in places where tools shouldn’t be. Just in case.
And two hours passed. I never found it. Then I lost another hour using the wrong tool for the job.
By the way, if you ever see me in a campground and are in need of a three-eights-inch socket wrench for your own project, please come knock on my door. For some reason, I have four in that size.
What You Need: Mud Flaps, Soapy Water and Sponge, Socket Wrench, Screwdriver
Remove Fender Panel Stone Guard with Screwdriver.
My fender panel stone guard was secured with center pins that were like plastic expandable screws. It’s not like a regular twist screw. Some vehicles may have regular screws. Some vehicles may not have any type of stone guard. To remove, I pried them out with the screwdriver.
Line Up Mud Flap with Holes. Secure in Place.
Repeat on the Other Side (Use the Proper Tool).
Admire Your Work.