plastic wheel skirts, attached with velcro. (EDIT: see update, June 21, 2008: now attached with brackets. Not because they fell off, but because they were too hard to remove.)
why plastic: lightweight, non-rusting, easy to work with.
why velcro: i didn't want to drill any part of the sheet metal in the wheel well, because it's one of the most rust-prone areas on a car, and ontario is in the rust belt.
that said, drilling and using some other kind of fasteners would definitely be faster and probably easier. also, metal would be fine, or if you're good with fiberglass. the basic layout/planning steps will be similar.
- black krazy karpet ($2 ea., 1 per wheel)
- 1 in. wide velcro strips (free - junk drawer)
- tube of sticky silicone-type glue/sealant ($4)
- duct tape
- aluminum strip ... the thing that goes across a doorway to trim the transition between different flooring materials (free, in workshop - 1 per wheel)
- not shown: heat gun
btw, for those not familiar, this is what krazy karpets are usually used for! crazy ***, psycho-slipperly fast, unsteerable fun on snowy hills.
many an injury has been caused by these things, including yours truly, whose karpet ended up in front of me in a childhood crash, and its thin edge jammed into my face between my lip and nose and carved a nice gash. krazy!
tape newspaper over wheel well. try to make it taut and wrinkle free. trace wheel arch outline.
use the arch tracing to make up a cardboard prototype. when cutting the cardboard, don't cut right to the edge of the tracing. you need extra material to fashion the curves to get around the tires and leave space from the wheel. and depending on your attachment method, you may be forming a 90 degree lip as i did, to mate to the lip in the wheel arch.
take your time getting the cardboard shaped right. probably the most important area is the lower part of the arch. the length of the skirt material here determines how much room you'll have to fashion the right curves and leave enough room to clear the tire & wheel/cover.
making the plastic version...
- i cut the velcro into 1/2 in. strips, lengthwise, glued one strip to the wheel arch lip (inboard as much as possible), and the other in sections to the corresponding "tabs" which make up the lip i cut & formed in the plastic
making the plastic version, continued...
- to give the plastic some rigidity and to hold the proper shape to clear the tires/wheel covers, i taped, then drilled and attached 3 screws through a strip of flat aluminum trim on the back of the skirt. (the trim is what you find on the floor in a doorway at the transition between different flooring types.)
i dremeled off the extra length of the middle screw to keep it from touching the tire/wheel cover. (the side screws are ok like that
that's it. i didn't have to paint my skirts because the black plastic is a fair match for the paint (a coulple of shades lighter). fyi, the skirts don't look quite as nice as the pics suggest, but i'm happy overall.
the only thing that needs paint are the screw heads. a couple of dabs of black will hide those.
i used the heat gun to soften the plastic enough to form a character line at the bottom of the skirts that continues a line above the rocker panels.
time to complete:
4 to 6 hours.
i'm confident the velcro is going to hold the skirts in place in all normal situations. the only thing i wouldn't do is subject the gap between skirt & wheel well to the blast of a pressure washer.
the velcro is tricky to get into place when finally installing the skirt without it sticking where you don't want it to. one way to get it done is stick tape loosely in sections on the velcro - so you can get stuff into position, then pull the tape out and press the velcro together.
there's just enough room beween the wheel and the skirt that i can reach my skinny arm up behind and press the "tabs" firmly in place.
the adhesive i chose to stick the velcro to the car and the skirts wasn't the best - it's not strong enough. i won't be able to remove and re-install the skirts frequently or i'll be pulling the velcro off. one way around this is using a thin putty knife or screwdriver to separate the velcro, rather than just pulling on it when taking the skirt off.