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How to Attach Your Pre-Painted Replacement Bumper
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Damaged Bumpers Can Be Unavoidable
Rear-end collisions are one of the most common accidents. They are usually caused by distracted drivers or people who can't park or reverse in parking lots. Even a light brush on the bumper from another car or object will cause unsightly scratches and dings. Most insurance companies will require a certified body shop to remove the old bumper, replace it with a new one, and repaint it to match the color. However, you can avoid that trouble (and cost) and do it yourself.
Today's bumper covers, often called facias or bumper skins – whatever you want to call them – are more challenging to replace than your father's old chrome horn. And if you don't do it correctly, you may cause more damage than it's worth trying to repair it on your own. But the job is not impossible and can be done with a few simple tools and some patience.
Bumper covers are typically made of plastic (ABS) and may have some fiberglass reinforcement for strength. You can buy replacement bumpers from a few aftermarket companies prepainted, which saves money since you won't have to take it to the body shop beforehand to match the color of your car.
First, Let's Remove the Old Bumper
To start, you will need a handful of tools to remove your old bumper. You don't need anything special, but if you have a clip removal tool, that will be helpful. If you don't have a clip removal tool, a flathead screwdriver will suffice. It would help if you also had a Phillips head screwdriver, a Torx driver with a few select bits, preferably T30 and a few sizes smaller. You can get a reasonably priced set of Torx bits (T10-T55) for less than $15 from an online retailer. And a trim removal tool is nice to have but not a necessity. It is sometimes easier to remove the recessed clips with this tool, but you can wrap a screwdriver with painter's tape if you don't have it (or purchase one from an online auto parts and tools retailer).
There is No Rush in Removing the Old Bumper
The key to removing the bumper cover is to take your time and follow the steps methodically, clip by clip. The plastic clips come in several styles, depending on the model of your vehicle. Many of the clips, such as those found on Hondas, are two-piece, meaning you have to insert the tip of the screwdriver or clip removal tool between the head and the seat and pry it up carefully from opposite sides until it is all the way popped out. Then you can pull the clip out by hand. Bear in mind, the clips underneath the bumper typically have road grime and can be more challenging to remove. Sometimes spraying with soap and water will loosen the dirt enough to get under the head and pull it out.
Take your time. If you break a clip, it's not the end of the world. There are replacement clips available online. You may also need to use a 10mm socket to remove some retaining bolts on the top and bottom. Use the Phillips head screwdriver for the sides and fender liner screws
Are All the Old Bumper Clips Removed?
Ensure you have all of the fasteners and clips removed before you start to pry on the bumper. Trying to force the cover off may break a clip or cause other damage. Once the bumper is pulled back enough, you can then unclip the wiring harness clips for any marker lights installed in the bumper. You may be able to remove the light assembly with a screwdriver and unclip the harness from that end, depending on the model.
Installing the Your Pre Painted Replacement Bumper
For installation, follow the steps in reverse. Be sure to attach the wiring harness first (after propping up the bumper). It can be very tight quarters to try to do this step later. Then you can start by pressing the replacement bumper into place and inserting the clips and screws from top to bottom, working from the center out.