Sunday, May 29, 2011

R56 MINI Cooper S Bumper Replacement DIY-ish

I know I still have an MOTD recap to post, but I still have too much writing on that to hold this up.  Those following the tale of the MINI WUF know that last summer during an event at VIR, I spun off the course and thanks to heavy rain that day, the grass was like ice, sending me off into the Armco barrier.  I was extremely fortunate in that enough speed had scrubbed off that the blow was not too hard and my angle was such that the only parts damaged were the front bumper cover and some trim pieces.  (OK, technically there are some under hood cracks in a couple places, but nothing of note or a problem.)  Besides the obvious, this meant that for the past year I've been driving around in what looks like a beater MINI with a messed up front bumper, ala the photo below I recently took on the Devil's Triangle:

Bumper damage

Since it was coming out of my pocket (no insurance claim on this one), and the quotes to have someone do it were quite high, it was looking like a DIY.  The first step was to find a replacement bumper.  For that, I searched on the NAM Marketplace and found someone selling the bumper off an MCS up in the DC area.  So a road trip later, I had the bumper.

The next step was to find someone to paint it at a cost I could afford and then save up the money for it.  That included not having to drive too far.  After some searching, I found a little place close to me called Car-Art, Inc. They gave me a really cheap price.  As I discovered, it went with the motif of their shop which was along the lines of "hole in the wall".  It wasn't much to get it painted and if they do a good job, I could overlook their orderliness-challenge.


The bumper came out looking pretty good.  Hard to tell off the MINI how the paint match was since the guy basically did it from scratch.

The final step was to order some additional fasteners, as the "word" floating on the Interwebz was that you would inevitably have to destroy a couple in the process of removal.  I looked up the front bumper on and ordered all the fasteners listed from ECS Tuning.

With all the parts finally in hand and painted, it was time to tackle the job.


First up was removal of the front grille (something I've done many times).  Then the two screws right there obviously holding the bumper on.  Next I went over to the front wheel well, took out a couple fasteners and pulled back the liner.  One of the fasterners, right near the edge near the bottom is attached to the bumper, so it definitely has to come out.

Behind that there is one of the little plastic pop rivet fasteners holding the wheel arch to the black trim that runs along the bottom of the bumper.  Tough to get a grip on those to get out.  The biggest challenge was a screw in the end of the bumper that is up behind the wheel arch.  So you have to get that loosened up enough to get a T20 bit (the only tool specifically needed) on it to loosen it.

This was a pain to get to.

There are two slots/tabs from the wheel arch that go into the bumper, so those have to be undone (not difficult).

Up underneath, there are two screws like the ones up top behind the upper grille that just screw out.  There are also three of the plastic pop rivet things along there.  At least for me, I could not remove them without destroying them.  Since I knew I had replacements, I wasn't worried to take the Dremel to them.

There are three screws holding the fog light housings onto the bumpers that require the T20 bit to remove.  With most of the fasteners removed, it is not too difficult to get to them.  Along the front passenger side there is a sensor in there held with a couple clips (thermometer maybe?).

So in total, holding the bumper cover on are a total of six screws, three pop rivets, two screw fasteners, and six screws on the fog lights.  There are another couple pop rivets holding the lower black trim piece to the wheel arches.  With all of those removed, the bumper cover assembly was free and I only broke a couple tabs under the wheel arches trying to pull them out of the way.

Broken bumper gone!

Once I had it removed, I took off the lower black trim pieces (just some tabs and slots holding it on) and installed it on the new bumper.  I did have a replacement piece that had come with the bumper I bought, but I wanted to re-use mine since it has aged with the rest of the black trim on the MINI and I wanted it to match.  I also had a replacement lower grille to put in since the one I had was destroyed with the bumper cover.

After that, it was merely a matter of putting everything back on again.  I used to the two upper screws to hold the bumper roughly in place (didn't want it to fall on the floor and get scratched).  Then I worked on getting the fog light on one side reconnected and got the sensor re-installed.  Then the screw up under the wheel arch, get the tabs back in, and a new pop rivet.  Do the same on the other side, tighten up the top screws, then I put in the screws and pop rivets on the bottom.

New bumper installed.

With that done, I took care of some items before finishing up with the reinstall of the upper grille.  Overall, not a hard job, especially with the peace of mind of knowing I had plenty of replacement fasteners.  At least in the garage, the paint looks to be matched quite well.  I'll be able to tell better once I get it in the sunlight.  Unfortunately, once I had it on I could see where the paint shop left an area not quite polished completely.  Not enough for me to take it off and redo it as I have to get it at the right angle to see it.  While the price was good and they were easy to work with, not sure I'd be able to recommend the body shop.  Also, the chrome on my hood (that goes over the upper grille) still has some of the Armco paint.  Think I may leave that as a battle scar.

Anyway, another project complete and accomplished.  Total time was about 4 hours, but could probably be done much faster.  It would be interesting to know if the body shop people know of any tricks that make it easier to get the pop rivets out and to get the wheel arch out of the way.  The MINI WUF is ready to motor once again.

Ready to motor again!

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