American Adventure Lab Jeep JL Quick Release Fender Liners – Overview, Installation, and Review
Fender liners are an important part of your Jeep. Not only do they protect your sensitive under-hood parts and electronics, but also provide (or limit) tire to fender clearance. In all of these categories, the flimsy, stock fender liners are a huge letdown.
American Adventure Lab’s Quick-Release Fender Liners are feature-packed. They provide added tire clearance, superior durability, near-limitless customization, and quick-release functionality. In this article, I’ll demonstrate some of the key features, show you the installation process, and give you my thoughts after putting them through their paces on and off-road.
Find It Online
- American Adventure Lab Quick-Release Front Inner Fenders
- American Adventure Lab Quick-Release Rear Inner Fenders
Tools & Materials
- Jack and jack-stands
- Socket/lug key to remove wheels
- ½” drive ratchet
- ⅜” drive ratchet
- 8mm, 10mm, 13mm sockets
- Adjustable wrench
- T25 torx bit
- Trim removal tool
- Needle nose pliers
- Exacto knife
- Dzus tool (or allen key)
- American Adventure Lab’s Detailed Front Fender Removal Video
- American Adventure Lab High-Line Fender Brace with Daytime Running Lights
- Rivnut Installation Tool
The AAL (American Adventure Lab) fender liners are constructed out of .060” aluminum, making them light yet very strong. There is no need for space-wasting support brackets that flimsier fender liners make use of. AAL also offers rivet nuts (rivnuts) to replace the fragile plastic clips the hold the fender flares to the Jeep.
I have been very impressed with the AAL fender liner’s durability. During my use of these liners, I’ve had a tire push a large branch into the liner. After hearing the wood crunching against the fender liners, I was sure they would be damaged. But after taking a look, they were completely unharmed! Not even a scratch on the powder coating. Good job AAL.
AAL offers the most customization options in the industry. The fender liners come by default in a raw aluminum finish, which is naturally rust and corrosion-resistant. AAL offers a variety of standard powder coat colors for both the fender liners and the mesh logo cutout section. However, they can do almost any powder coat color imaginable. If you have an idea for a custom color or want parts color-matched to your Jeep, give them a call to see what’s possible!
For those of us running reservoir shocks, American Adventure Lab offers shock cutout options for a variety of systems. This means your fender liners will come pre-cut with the exact clearance needed for your shock system. Some of the shocks they support are Fox and King 2.5s, the EVO bolt-on coilover system, and Falcon 3.3s. Check their website for their latest offerings.
For my fender liners, I went with a sleek satin black finish with paint color-matched mesh logo cutouts, and they look absolutely amazing in person. They also have the shock cutouts for my Fox 2.5 DSC dampers, which fit the shocks and reservoir hoses perfectly.
For those of use running larger than stock tires, an important part of aftermarket fender liners is the clearance gained over the stock plastic fender liners. After removing the factory fender liners and splitting the inner/outer fenders, I gained over 3” of clearance which allows my 38” tires to stuff into the fender at full flex without rubbing. With the factory fender liners, I would have had to run additional bump stop extensions to keep from rubbing and destroying the fenders, which would result in reduced articulation.
I am also running AAL’s High-Line fender brace and Daytime Running Lights. These running lights look great and provide additional structure for split factory fenders.
These fender liners are the only ones on the market able to be installed or removed in just 30 seconds. This is due to their mounting brackets making use of ¼ turn “dzus” fasteners. Being able to install and remove and fender liners quickly makes routine maintenance or engine bay cleaning a piece of cake.
Step 1. Remove the AAL liners from their packaging
The fender liners come well packaged with all the panels, brackets, and hardware in their own plastic-wrapped bundles.
Step 2. Remove the Front Factory Fender Liners
Start by removing the two 10mm bolts that secure the inner fender liner to the fender. Then use a trim removal tool to remove the large push-pins from the fender liner.
Because I am running American Adventure Lab’s High-Line Fender Brace and Running Lights, my fender liner removal process was slightly different from someone with factory running lights. Refer to American Adventure Lab’s excellent video for a detailed step-by-step guide.
Here’s a great example of how fragile the factory fender liners are. This is a result of a crosswind blowing my factory fender liners into my tires on the highway, leaving my exhaust and chassis-ground cables exposed.
Step 3. Remove the inner fender liner
Remove the rivets down the edge of the fender and completely remove the inner fender liner from the Jeep.
At this point, you can unplug your factory running lights from their wiring harness and remove the 10mm bolts holding that assembly to the body.
Step 4. Remove the front fender from the Jeep
I found it easiest to use needle-nose pliers to detach the white clips from the Jeep. These clips are very fragile, so take your time during this process. After all the clips have been detached, the fenders should easily pull away from the Jeep. Instead of re-using these clips, you can replace them with AAL’s optional fender retention hardware.
Step 5. Split the inner and outer fenders
Separate the inner black fenders from the outer black or paint-matched fender flares. After removing the plastic rivet closest to the lower edge of the flare, you can begin pulling the liners apart. The inner and outer fenders are held together with plastic rivets – they do take substantial force to separate. If your fenders are painted, take care not to bend the plastic too much and crack the paint.
Use an exacto knife or razor to cut the plastic tabs off of the outer fender flares. This is demonstrated in the AAL front fender removal video.
Step 6. Assemble the fender liners and install the brackets
Loosely assemble the front fender liners. Install the four brackets that hold the fender liners to the Jeep. While installing the upper brackets, you will reinstall the fender flare onto the Jeep.
Install the fender liner using six ¼ turn dzus fasteners. The front is now complete! Next, move on to the rear fenders.
Step 7. Remove the rear factory fender liners
Similar to the front fender liners, the rears can be removed after removing a few 10mm bolts and the large push pins that secure the liner to the Jeep.
Step 8. Remove the rear fender flares
The rear flares are a bit harder to remove than the fronts. Because not all of the white plastic clips can be accessed, the flares must be forcibly removed by pulling them straight away from the Jeep. Don’t worry if the white clips break as they will all be replaced by the provided rivnuts.
Step 9. Split the inner and outer fenders
Just like the front fenders, remove the plastic rivets near the lower corners of the fender flares and pull the inner and outer fender flares apart to separate the plastic welds.
Again, use an exacto knife or razor to cut the plastic tabs off the rear fender flares.
Step 10. Install the provided rivnut hardware
Using a rivnut installation tool, install the provided rivnut into the holes in the quarter panel. I found it easiest to lightly hammer the rivnut into the hole and use an impact driver and box wrench to tighten it using the rivnut installation tool. Do not over-tighten as you can strip the rivnut.
Step 11. Install the outer fender flares and the AAL rear fender trim
Bolt the outer fender to the Jeep through the AAL rear fender trim piece along with the fender liner mounting brackets. Ensure the black trim clips are fully seated in the slots in the fender flares.
Step 12. Assemble the fender liners and install them
Loosely assemble the rear fender liners and install them using the ¼ turn dzus fasteners.
Step 13. Tighten the assembled fender liners
With the front and rear liners installed, tighten the screws that hold the fender liner panels together.
Anyone who knows their way around some basic tools can easily get this job done. It took me most of a day to complete the front and rear installation.
Since installing the fender liners, I’ve driven thousands of miles on the highway and taken a few trips to some difficult trails in the California Sierras. The additional 3.5″ of clearance allows me to run a much larger tire than I could with the factory fender liners while keeping my under-hood electronics and mechanical components protected. Because of this extra clearance, I was able to go from a 36″ to 38″ tire without having to add any more bump stop – huge win! After a few off-roading trips, being able to easily remove the fender liners for cleaning and maintenance is very beneficial. Not to mention, the custom powder-coat finish and color-matched mesh inserts look awesome.
Overall, I’ve been extremely pleased with the American Adventure Lab fender liners and definitely recommend them to anyone looking to upgrade.