The Hilux has dominated the 4×2 and 4×4 ute categories for quite some time and is undeniably Australia’s best-selling car thus far in 2022. There’s the choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines and trims to suit all buyers. The workmate is a tradie’s best friend, while the Rogue and Rugged X models are perfect for off-roading fun.
As for accessories, there’s a decent amount of optional kits offered as OEM. But most buyers will be better catered to by the huge selection of aftermarket goodies.
Off-roading requires the Hilux to have basic front-end protection, decent lighting and recovery essentials to get you out of a tight spot. Any extra gear, like spare tyres or camping gear, should sit on a well-appointed roof rack.
Though, you shouldn’t stop there. Better protection for those larger wheels and tyres is handled by Hilux flares in the design and colour of your liking. Pair this with serious suspension upgrades and better airflow, and choose your destination.
Fender flares are vehicle accessories fitted on the guards of the car or ute. The aim is to get additional guard sizes for larger wheels and tyres. Flares designed for the specific vehicle ensure high precision.
When shopping for Hilux flares, make sure to get flares for your series and MY. This is to ensure that they do what they’re intended to do, and don’t look out of place.
Why Do You Need Flares?
The main reason to get fender flares is to keep mud, dirt, and water away from the wheel wells, especially with tyres with off-roading treads. This keeps the vehicle clean and clear of potentially dangerous debris flying in all directions.
The other reason is to accommodate bigger wheels and tyres. This is something you’ll do when heading towards the red soil. Fender flares reduce the risk of tyres rubbing against the top of the wheel wells, so going stock will only limit tyre and wheel selection.
Depending on the size of the new set of wheels and rubber, flares can be optioned in 50, 75 or 95mm of tyre coverage. Besides functionality and safety, these accessories also have their flair. A Hilux fitted with fender flares on all fours means business.
Materials and Fit
Locally produced flares consist of an injection moulded ABS plastic. This is hardwearing yet flexible and UV resistant, so it will stand up against prolonged abuse in typical off-roading settings and searing heat. Most variants come with a black textured finish and don’t need an additional coat of paint. Hilux owners can, however, have them painted.
Flares fit the factory mounts with included screws and rubber trims. And this falls within the legal requirements surrounding fender flares. Front Hilux flares are often a two-piece design to cater to changes to the front end with an included full-sized bull bar. It’s recommended that a pro installs your flares to ensure a snug fit. Some additional work may be needed depending on your vehicle setup before fitting the flares to the ute.
Pre-assembled and calibrated kits are available for the Hilux, Landcruiser and Prado, as well as other makes and models. Air suspension relies on pressurised air bellows, taking the place of stock springs. They can be installed as air-assist kits riding on the rear axles and balancing out the Hilux with the tub full of off-roading or camping goodies or with a fitted canopy.
Full air suspension systems balance out both front and rear axles and will have in-cabin controls to change the ride’s height and the rebound and compression rates. This is the recommended setup for extreme technical terrain, and the ute is full of gear. It negates the loss of traction, keeping the ute as level as possible and the tyres firmly biting into the ground.
The main benefit is the level of adjustability. Air bellows can be lowered or raised and pressurised to the desired air pressure with a simple flick of a switch. In addition, individual bellows can adjust the suspension height over each wheel separately.
Drivers reap the benefits of the added height clearance where and when needed. And can dial back settings for a plusher ride when returning to sealed roads. You can’t have this level of customisation and control in any other suspension setup. Something worth considering if you’re set on doing the rounds in technical trails and unchartered turf.
Getting clean filtered air in for combustion is the job of snorkels. They not only clear the vehicle when driving through flooded rivers in the wet season but resist mud, dust and contaminants entering the engine and wreaking havoc. In addition, snorkel designs and tubing use physics to draw more air in and increase performance. Conservative figures have this at 25 per cent.
Kits can consist of reinforced plastics, often treated Polyethylene, that resists fading since it is UV resistant. The benefit is a low weight, but at the cost of overall durability compared to heavier and stronger high-grade (316) stainless-steel snorkels. These are either powder coated or brushed for a more purposeful off-road look, which goes well with the rest of the ute. Kits come with anti-vibration nuts to reduce in-cabin noise and brackets and bolts comprising the rest of the mounting hardware.
Source Accessories Made Down Under
Aussie companies have made a name in producing high-quality off-roading accessories and parts. Fender flares by Kut Snake have been copied the world over (buyer beware!) but are a true-blue brand respected for its innovative approach to every vehicle. They deliver on quality, workmanship, and fitment, meaning you get tailored Hilux fender flares designed to last.
Different configurations of air suspension (and suspension parts in general) are produced by Sydney-based suspension specialists Tough Dog. They’ve been in the business for close to four decades, and are true off-roading addicts, so they know a thing or two.
Safari Snorkels have evolved from pioneering work since the 1980s to reduce the hazards of dust and water in harsh Aussie conditions. The company’s Air Ram filtering systems are unique in that they are also rotatable, a design that has earned the company numerous local and global awards and recognition.
All three brands are also sold abroad. And all were born from the dedication of true off-roaders in delivering products that outperform all others where and when it matters – off-road. The products listed here are specifically for the Hilux, but if you drive something else, then Kut Snake, Safari and Tough Dog will deliver. Get them at your nearest 4WD parts and accessories retailer.