Time for a TRIM! - Front Wheel Well & Fender Flare: "Clean-Up" for improved off-road clearance and/or larger tires

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Oh Kee Pah

Full Access Member
Mar 26, 2019
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Hello TYForum,
In Jan 2020 I had my 4" BDS lift installed, which seems to have moved affected the relation of the front tire to the front wheel well. I've also had the OE fender flares installed for 30k+ miles. This combination has had me constantly wondering not if, but when, my front tire was going to catch the front edge of the wheel well. Running approx. 34" diameter tires has meant that I bring the front wheel well much more into play than many TYForum members seemed to have experienced. This is particularly true when putting the suspension through more serious off-road articulation. I find myself being conscious of the wheel angle when approaching major bumps/obstacles so as to make sure I do not clip the front wheel on the leading edge. Recently, I removed the fender flares to completely clay bar and detail the Tahoe, prior to Maine winter. My goal was to get some extra protective coating on before the roads got really bad. Anyways, with the flares off, I decided now was the time to address the front wheel well issue. I have gone back and forth in my mind about trimming the Tahoe, and have really wanted to stay away from that. But, with 140k on the clock and the new GM models coming off the line, and a 4" crossmember lift that I already had to cut up the OE suspension for...I figured what the heck and just go ahead and start trimming.

Here's the front wheel well before trimming, with fender flares removed. The fender flares actually stick out from the vehicle approx. 1/2-3/4" and also extend over the OE body. When wheels are turned straight, I had about two fingers of clearance or approx. 1.5". When I turned the wheel to the point of MIN CLEARANCE, I measured about 1 finger or 3/4" of clearance. The point of MIN CLEARANCE was actually not very far from wheels straight...

ORIGINAL Tahoe Front Wheel - Wheels Straight - spacing 1a.jpg ORIGINAL Tahoe Front Wheel - Wheels Turned to MIN CLEARANCE - spacing 2a.jpg ORIGINAL Tahoe Front Wheel - Wheels Turned to MIN CLEARANCE - spacing 2b.jpg

Following the trimming of the front wheel well, lower front valence and front fender flares, I now have realized a great deal of space to allow for increased articulation over obstacles and care-free driving when approaching them. I measured approx. 3.25" of clearance now with about 2.5" of clearance at the MIN CLEARANCE point. That's actually about 115% increase over original setup!
In order to accomplish this trimming and spacing, I used the BDS Suspension front trimming instructions and modified to suite my needs. BDS Instructions here: https://bds-suspension.com/instructions/021307-021309.pdf

ORIGINAL Tahoe Front Wheel - Wheels Straight - spacing 3a.jpg ORIGINAL Tahoe Front Wheel - Wheels Straight - spacing 3b.jpg

Primary tools used were:
Dremel - circular cutter
Drill - 3/16" bit and Step-Bit (great for holes in plastic)
Socket wrench and appropriate bits (different size screws and heads in and around wheel well areas)
Chalk pen (mark my cuts and holes)
Tape (blue painters tape)
Ruler and Measuring Tape
Sand Paper: 60/150/220/400 grit all used
OE Repair Paint (to match GM black)
RC Inner Fender Bracket (modified as bracket to pull wheel well liner in line with front "lip")
Hardware - new screws, bolts, washers (rubber and fiber); as needed
Fender Flare edge trim by King (replaced OE edge trim rubber)
Edge Trim for Truck/SUV edges by Cowles (used on cut fender flares)
Gloves and Glasses

Though it may be painful, I would very much appreciate any and all feedback regarding the trimming project, upgrade clearance and the new appearance. In the end, what's done is done, now...

Safe Travels!

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