It’s a workaround to comply with certain state regulations.
Look at certain Volkswagens, like this 2022 Golf R below, and you’ll notice a piece of black plastic trim above the wheel well in the front and rear. You might even see this same piece of trim on other makes and models, too.
Highlighted in green below is exactly what I’m talking about.
You might be already aware of this, but the majority of states have laws that specifically prohibit your tires sticking out past your fenders.
The basic logic is that tires might kick up dirt, mud, or debris and may cause a hazard to other motorists behind you.
“No person shall operate any motor vehicle with…fenders… thereto afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle and all such equipment or such body or attachments thereto shall be at least as wide as the tire tread. “
And, for illustrative purposes for other states like Louisiana, it’s much the same.
“Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle, when operated upon a highway of this state, shall be equipped with fenders…The width of such fenders, covers, or other devices shall be at least the width of the tires of the motor vehicle.”
Violating VC 27600 in California is subject to a fix-it ticket,a $25 base fine if you get it signed off. It’s about the same in other states.
Since some Volkswagens like the Golf R and Golf GTI Autobahn have a wide wheel and tire package that, without the stick-on piece of black plastic trim, would technically stick out past the stock fender, this makes it legal to sell.
This affects Golf R and Golf GTI Autobahn’s since they have 19-inch wheels which require 235 mm wide tires from the factory.
That black plastic piece of trim is technically part of the fender.
But, let’s be honest, even though the Golf R tire sticks out past the fender, it’s so small that only a stickler of a cop would pull you over without them.
It’s entirely up to you but, if you own a Golf R or GTI Autobahn and want to take them off, it’s easy.
“I took a hair dryer to mine, and it came off rather easily, it’s just some minor adhesives keeping it on,” says VW Vortex member Windemere.
Police are only going for heinous offenders where it’s obvious you’ve got the wrong wheel and tire package for your car, not a millimeter’s worth of poke.