Mud flaps are a simple and straightforward part of a car or truck, but Ford has come up with something a bit more elaborate.

In a patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Feb. 20—but filed on April 26, 2022—Ford details deployable mud flaps that would move outward from a stowed position to block spray coming off a vehicle's tires.

In the application, Ford says this system is primarily for keeping a vehicle's sides clean. Flaps would deploy when a significant amount of spray is detected, blocking it from hitting the side of the vehicle and getting everything dirty.

Ford doesn't provide much detail on the benefits of deployable flaps, as opposed to conventional versions that are fixed in place. But the automaker does note that achieving the ideal spray-shielding position also requires blocking a door handle.

Ford deployable mud flap patent image

Ford deployable mud flap patent image

Aerodynamics may also be a factor. Ford has also patented deployable dive planes with the aim of providing greater flexibility for aerodynamic tuning. Dive planes have a very different purpose, though, as they're downforce-generating devices generally used on performance cars.

As for what production vehicle—if any—will get deployable mud flaps, we do know that Ford plans to launch a new electric pickup truck in 2025. Codenamed T3, it's designed from the ground up as an EV, as opposed to the current Ford F-150 Lightning, which shares a platform with gasoline F-150 models.

Big trucks often sport mud flaps, and these deployable versions could help trim aerodynamic drag and help increase range in an electric truck.