Friday, June 22, 2012

Installing Euro Mudguards on a 2012 Prius

We finally got a new car.  A 2012 Prius 3.  Three tanks of gas in, and it's getting right about 51 mpg overall.  As long as gas stays above about $3.25 a gallon, my math says it will pay for itself vs. reasonable alternative cars.

I've always put mudflaps / guards on my cars.  They don't keep the dirt off, but they do reduce the amount of rock chips and tar that winds up on the side of the car.  There are two styles of guards available from Toyota.  The ones for the U.S. market are smallish, for some reason, but there are folks on the internet importing and selling the European version, which look much more like normal mudflaps to me.  I got a set from, mainly because I found a 10% off coupon code on a forum.  A lot of people seem to be concerned with how difficult it will be to install these mudflaps, and what they will look like, so here's my experience.  They were very easy to install, and... they look like mudflaps!

Here's a before shot of the front, with the existing fastener points indicated.  VERY easy.  I used a small flathead screwdriver, and a 10mm socket on a small 1/4" drive wrench.  The screwdriver is used to pop up the center of the little plastic connector, and the socket undoes a couple of screws, which are re-used to attach the mudguard.  The mudguards come with a new, longer plastic connector to fasten in the top hole, and that's it.

The rear is slightly more of a pain.  I did it without taking the rear tire off, by using a really stubby screwdriver bit holder.  If you jack up the car and pull off the tire, this job is trivially easy, and you can use regular screwdrivers and a drill to make your holes if you're more comfortable.  The tools shown are a couple of stubby #2 phillips screwdrivers and a homemade tool called a birdcage awl.   It's just a nail, set into a wooden handle and sharpened to a square point with a file.  I use it for scratching marks, and the corners on the square point will cut a quick pilot hole in wood or plastic if the tool is twisted.

Hold the mudflap up against the car and carefully make sure it's located properly.  Use the awl to reach through the lower mounting hole and scratch a horizontal line through the paint on the plastic fender / bumper.  Slide one of the little metal screw clip thingies onto the plastic fender at your mark, and make a pilot hole in the center with the awl or whatever you're using.

With a short awl and really stubby screwdriver, you don't need to take the rear wheel off.

Put the guard in place, drive a screw into the lower hole, and then locate and mark the upper hole in the same way.  I know this seems fiddly, and doing them both at the same time would be faster, but this way you know everything will line up.  Finally, drive the third screw in from the bottom of the guard, into the underside of the bumper.  Now go find a rally course and try to spit some gravel at a Subaru.