How Much Clearance Is Needed Between A Tire And The Fender? 


A tire rubbing against a fender can cause a lot of problems, one of the worst being a blown-out tire. Making sure that there is enough clearance between a tire and a fender is especially important when you are making any type of modifications to your tires or wheels. Ensuring that you have enough clearance between your tires and fenders isn’t as easy as eyeballing the space between your tires when your car is parked. 

How much clearance is needed between a tire and the fender? On standard vehicles, it is recommended that there is at least ¾ of an inch between the tire and the fender. If you are driving a car with a trailer, it is recommended that there is a clearance of 3 inches. Manufacturers will give different recommendations on tire clearance depending on the stiffness of the stocks and the turn radius of a vehicle. 

Fender damage, blown-out tires, and car accidents are all things that can come from having a tire rub against a funder. Messing up a tire or a paint job just because you didn’t take the time to check the clearance between your tire against a fender is cause for one big headache. Some people love putting bigger tires on their cars or lowering their cars, which are all great options but it is important to take into consideration the clearance between the tires and the fenders. 

The Clearance Needed Between A Tire And A Fender

The amount of clearance that you will need between the tire and fender is going to vary depending on what type of car you drive and what activities you plan on doing with your car. For example, a car that you use for off-roading is going to need much more clearance than a car that is strictly going to be driving on well-paved streets. It is also important to take into account that the tire is going to get close to the inside of the fender when you turn the car. As you can see there isn’t just one clear answer for how much clearance your specific car needs. 

Recommendations for tire clearance to the underside of the fender for street vehicles are usually between half an inch and one inch. This recommendation comes from car mechanics and car fanatics. Most car manufacturers are going to recommend that you have at least 1 to 1 ½ inches of clearance. Something you do need to be aware of is that as the clearance decreases, your car’s turn radius will increase. Your wheels are going to be to turn as tightly as they would have without rubbing against the fender so you won’t be able to turn as sharp as you used to. 

Off-road vehicles or vehicles that haul trailers are going to need a larger minimum clearance than that regular street vehicles. Vehicles that have a trailer can vary in the amount of clearance they have when they aren’t hauling a trailer and that isn’t the thing that matters. What matters is how much clearance the vehicle has after it is weighed down with the trailer. A vehicle hauling a trailer should have a clearance of at least 3 inches to ensure you don’t rub when you go over a dip or bump in the road. 

The clearance for off-road vehicles should be at least that much if not more. When off-roading, the shocks on your car are going to be compressing and expanding a lot so you are going to want to have around 6 or more inches of clearance so your tires don’t slam into your fenders when you are going through ruts or uneven terrain. The level of the wheels can be very different during off-roading situations, so it is important to have plenty of clearance for your wheels to move around. 

What Happens If You Don’t Have Enough Clearance?

Not having enough clearance between your tires and fenders can lead to scratched or ripped fenders, worn thread, and even tire blowouts. I have already talked a bit about the negative consequences of not having enough clearance between your tires and fenders in the first part of this article but we are going to revisit it quickly. Damage caused by tires rubbing against the fender can start at just $100 or so in damage but ended up costing you several hundred dollars of damage if you don’t fix it. 

Blown-out tires are the most dangerous thing that can happen due to a tire rubbing against a fender. Not only is this going to cause you to lose control of your car which can easily turn into a car accident but it is also going to be a lot of money to repair. Not only will you have to replace a tire but you will likely have damage to your rim or even have damage done to the arms and housing for the wheel. 

As a tire rubs against a fender, both the tire and the fender are going to gradually wear down, and often time the fender wears down more quickly than the tire does. Wearing out a fender can also mess up your car’s paint job if it is hitting the outside of the car. Repairing a paint job can be as much as a couple of hundred dollars. As the fender wears down that plastic or fiberglass can be sharpened which can easily lead to blowing out. 

Avoiding these problems is very simple. When you have something done to your tires or the height of your car have whoever is installing whatever it is ensure that no rubbing is taking place. If you need to lift your car or get smaller tires then do it because it will be worth it in the long run. Spending a few hundred dollars for a lift kit is going to be much cheaper than having to pay for damage from a car accident.

Signs That You Don’t Have Enough Clearance Between Your Tire And Fender

Signs of not enough clearance between your tire and fender are going to look like any wearing down of the fender and any resistance you feel when you turn the wheel. When installing new wheels or lowering your car you are going to want to be doing a walk around of your car after every time you drive it to check for any signs of rubbing. This may look like marks on the fender or even chipping of the underside of the fender. 

When you are driving if you feel a sudden resistance when you turn the wheel or when you go over a bump this may be a good sign that there isn’t enough clearance between your tire and the fender. What this means is your tire is hitting your fender when you turn or go over a bump. Over time this contact is going to lead to the wear down of your tires and fenders so you are going to want to get that fixed as soon as possible. 

Can You Put Too Much Clearance Between A Tire And A Fender?

Technically I am not sure that you can put too much clearance between a tire and a fender but of course, it should be realistic. There are giant trucks that get lift kits that can have clearance up to three or four feet. Once you start getting clearance over that then I think vehicles begin to be impractical to drive. So, you could say there is a limit to how much clearance you are going to want to have between a tire and a fender. 

Also, there are always vehicles that don’t have any fenders at all and then you don’t even have to worry about if there is enough clearance or not. To increase the clearance of the tire and the fender there are plenty of options for you to choose from. 

Amanda Cannon

Amanda has an ever growing knowledge of cars with her education beginning when she was a little girl. She was frequently seen working on cars with her dad and today can be seen working on a 1966 Bronco, 1968 Firebird, and modifying her 2022 Bronco.

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