Mercedes 2002 ML Mud Flap Installation

The following instructions are my effort to install mud flaps on my 2002 Mercedes ML500. The rear mud flaps were changed in model year 2002, and these instructions are specific to 2002 and newer MLs. If you have a model year 2001 or earlier ML, see SchneiderIS's instructions at http://www.mbnz.org/forums/W163/vthread.asp?messid=16535.

These instructions are based on the instructions of Vernon, ML430, and SchneiderIS on the W163/ML discussion board at www.mbnz.org. I gratefully acknowledge their work.

If you have ANY doubt about whether flaps are needed, Photo 1 should clear them up! That's not dirt, it's wear and tear on the paint. It's evident in photos throughout this document. This wear occurred in less than 6 months during an unusually mild winter (not much snow, so not much sanding of the roads). The shape of the ML's body, combined with wide tires that seem to throw a lot of sand and stones at the paint make flaps an absolute necessity in my opinion. That, and they really do work to help to keep the car much cleaner.


Photo 1

 

Rear Flaps

In order to install a rear flap, you'll need:

Tools -

  • a pair of tin snips
  • a "stubby" phillips screwdriver
  • an adjustable wrench or socket wrench

Parts -

  • The flap
  • 6 - "T" clips
  • 5 - #10 x 1/2" stainless pan head phillips sheet metal screws
  • 1 - #10 x 3/4" stainless pan head phillips sheet metal screw
  • 6 - stainless washers to fit the screws
  • 1 - 6mm stainless metric nut


Photo 2

To get the rear flap to fit, you will need to trim a piece from the bottom of the fender liner. There is a crudely scored line drawn across the bottom of the liner, about 1/2" above the bottom edge. The words "MUD FLAP" are crudely scored in the area between the line and the bottom edge. I used a pair of tin snips to cut it off.


Photo 3

Photo 4 shows the piece removed.


Photo 4

Clean the area where the mud flap will contact the bumper. The flaps use two-sided tape to help hold them in place.

Note the 5 pairs of "nubs" molded into the bumper along the inside edge in the fender well. Photo 5 shows the pair of nubs nearest the bottom of the bumper. These nubs show where the "T" clips are installed in the next step.


Photo 5

Install 5 of the "T" clips, one between each pair of nubs, with the "bend" in the clip aimed AWAY from the tire. You should be able to press these on with your fingers.

Photo 6 shows 3 of these clips as installed.


Photo 6

Here's where the 6th "T" clip goes - on the bumper, just behind the wheel, underneath. There's a "shelf" there, just about the width of the "T" clip.

Photo 7 shows the shelf as seen from the side, just behind the wheel. (Note all that paint damage on the bumper!)

Photo 8 shows it viewed from the rear of the car.


Photo 7


Photo 8

The 6th "T" clip must be installed on this shelf with the "bend" in the clip aimed UP from the ground. There are no "nubs" on the shelf to indicate the exact positioning of the clip, but the shelf is only just slightly wider than the clip, so I just centered the clip on it.


Photo 9

Now do a "trial fit" to plan exactly how you will position the flap for installation. The final installation was the most nerve-racking step for me since you really only get one shot at getting it right once you expose the two-sided tape on the mud flap!

I experimented with the idea of mounting the flap loosely in place with its screws, without exposing the two-sided tape, and then somehow flexing the flap away from the bumper enough to peel the protective tape off the two-sided tape, but there really wasn't enough room or flexibility to do this.

I found it best to press the screw-hole area of the flap against the inside fender well edge of the bumper, align the "peninsula" on the flap with the styling groove in the bumper, and then slide the flap toward the car. After a few practice runs, it's onto the real thing....


Photo 10

Now peel off the 4 tapettes exposing the double-sided tape...


Photo 11

Carefully stick the flap to the bumper. I found that if I didn't press too hard, I was able to flex the flap in such a way that I could unstick a short area of the tape at a time in order to make minor adjustments. Also, at the very top of the flap where a small piece of tape sticks to the inside edge of the bumper, you can flex the inside top edge of the flap enough to completely unstick that piece in order to press the flap firmly onto the surface of the bumper (as shown in Photo 12). Then you can allow the flap to return to its normal position and allow that small piece of tape to fully stick to the inside edge of the bumper. This minimizes any gap between the flap and the bumper at its very top edge.

Press the flap firmly to the bumper all the way down and under the bumper to fully stick the double-sided tape.


Photo 12

Now insert the 5 #10 x 1/2" stainless steel sheet metal screws with washers through the holes in the flap and into the 5 "T" clips.


Photo 13


Photo 14

Insert a #10 x 3/4 inch sheet metal screw into the 6th "T" clip underneath. You could probably use a shorter screw like the others here, but I found the extra length helpful in getting the screw started in its hole, especially when working at such an awkward angle.


Photo 15

To secure the retaining cable to its stud, I chose to use a 6mm stainless nylon friction nut as shown in Photo 16.


Photo 16

I used a metric nut driver to attach the cable to its stud. Pliers, or an adjustable wrench could also work, although there isn't a lot of room to work in.


Photo 17

 

Front Flaps

In order to install a front flap, you'll need:

Tools -

  • a "stubby" phillips screwdriver
  • a flat blade screwdriver

Parts -

  • The flap
  • 2 - spring-steel retaining clips
  • 2 - clip-on retaining nuts
  • 1 - steel "V" bracket
  • 3 - #10 x 3/4" stainless pan head phillips sheet metal screws
  • 3 - stainless washers to fit the screws
  • 1 - #10 x 1/2" black large head phillips sheet metal screw
  • 1 - plastic push rivet


Photo 18

The plastic push rivet is used to install the steel "V" bracket to the rocker panel just behind the front wheel. The correct orientation of the rivet with respect to the "V" bracket is shown in Photo 19.


Photo 19

However, the push rivet I received (which was identical to the ones already holding the rocker panel onto the car, complete with the MB "star" molded into the head) fit a bit too tightly into the "v" of the "V" bracket due to the size of the rivet's flange -- it's just a hair too big to allow the rivet to sit perfectly in the "v". So I used a pair of tin snips to trim a tiny amount of the flange off so that the rivet would sit better.


Photo 20

Photo 21 shows what the push rivet looks like after I trimmed it (with the center piece removed).


Photo 21

Now it fits perfectly!

Photo 23 shows the assembly with the center piece of the rivet in place.


Photo 22


Photo 23

Since the steel "V" bracket is difficult to see once the mud flap is in place and mounted to it, here's a picture of what it looks like assembled off of the car:


Photo 24

Remove the center of the plastic push rivet under the rocker panel directly behind the front wheel using a flat blade screwdriver.

(Again, note the badly chipped and worn paint on the rocker panel!)


Photo 25

Pry out the body of the rivet using a flat blade screwdriver.


Photo 26


Photo 27

Insert the push rivet through the "V" bracket as shown in Photo 23, and then through the rocker panel and into the hole left in Photo 27.

Push the center of the rivet in, which will expand the body of the rivet inside the hole, holding everything in place as shown in Photos 29 and 30.


Photo 28


Photo 29


Photo 30

Now install the two clip-on retaining nuts to the bottom of the fender well liner. Note that the little bend at the front edge of the clip must be oriented UP.


Photo 31

As with the rear flaps, practice positioning the flap before removing the protective tapettes from the two-sided tape on the mud flap. Of particular interest is a small hook-shaped "nub" on the flap that is inserted into the gap between the plastic rocker panel and the metal fender. Be careful while handling the nub since it looks like it could be easily broken off. I found that by pressing down firmly with my finger as shown in Photo 32, I could make the gap between the rocker panel and the metal body fender just big enough to push the nub through the gap without damaging it. On the other side of the car, I could not open the gap enough with my finger. So I wrapped rubber electrical tape around a flat blade screwdriver (to avoid scratching the paint) and pried the gap open enough to get the nub in.


Photo 32

Once you've got your plan set, remove the protective tapettes from the double-sided tape on the flap and install the flap into place.


Photo 33

Firmly press the flap to the fender and rocker panel to make the double sided tape stick well. The "nub" will help to hold the flap firmly to the car at the seam between the rocker panel and the fender.


Photo 34

The retaining clips are installed with the flat side toward the tire. The mud flap has a slot cut into its edge that is parallel to the metal fender edge (it is not shown in the picture, but is just above the metal clip in Photo 35). The flat side of the clip in installed into this slot, and the "flap" shown in the photo is folded over the edge of the fender so that the "bent" side of the clip is installed over it. The result is that the fender is protected by rubber on both the side that the flap touches, as well as the inside. The metal fender is sandwiched inside the clip between two flaps of rubber -- there should be no metal-to-metal contact between the clip and the metal fender!


Photo 35

Photo 36 shows the clip partially installed with the rubber flap folded over the edge of the fender and held in place by the clip. You can also see a slight bulge in the surface of the flap immediately to the left of the clip in the photo. That's because the clip is inside the edge of the mud flap, in its slot.


Photo 36

I found the clips extremely difficult to install without having it shove the rubber out of the way as I tried to install them (there are 2 on each flap), so I used 2 flat blade screwdrivers to pry the clips open a bit.


Photo 37

Now install the 3 #10 x 3/4" stainless steel sheet metal screws with washers on the inside of the mud flap.

The inner two of the screws are threaded into the two clip-on retaining nuts shown in Photo 31.

The outermost screw goes into the forward-facing hole of the "V" bracket shown on Photo 29. Note that you can adjust the position of the "V" bracket, if necessary to line the screw hole up with the one in the mud flap, by reaching your fingers up inside the rocker panel. Don't completely tighten this screw until you have installed the black screw in the next step.


Photo 38

Install the dealer-supplied black large-headed sheet metal screw into the outside of the mud flap into the rear-facing leg of the "V" bracket shown in Photo 29. Note that you can adjust the position of the "V" bracket, if necessary to line the screw hole up with the one in the mud flap, by reaching your fingers up inside the rocker panel. Once you have tightened this screw, go back and tighten the outermost one shown in Photo 38 (the one pictured with the screwdriver on it).


Photo 39