- A car grille cools the radiator and engine by allowing air to flow freely underneath the hood while keeping the vehicle’s internal components protected from road debris.
- Advancements in automotive engineering have paved the way for grilles to help improve aerodynamics and reduce drag in certain vehicles, such as the 2016 Chevy Volt and 2016 GMC Canyon.
- While electric cars don’t have a combustible engine or radiator that needs cooling, they still have grilles to help cool the motors and batteries.
Grilles are often seen as a design element that gives vehicles a distinctive feature. But did you know that they also play a huge part in your car’s performance?
A car grille cools the radiator and engine by allowing air to flow freely underneath the hood while keeping the vehicle’s internal components protected from road debris. It is typically mounted between the headlights, but some older vehicles also have one at the back. In some cases, they are built into bumpers and fenders.
A Balance Between Form and Function
Advancements in automotive engineering have paved the way for grilles to help improve a vehicle’s aerodynamics and reduce drag. For example, the 2016 Chevy Volt and 2016 GMC Canyon have grille gratings that close when they’re moving at high speeds. Meanwhile, some performance vehicles like the Chevy Camaro come with specialized air flow paths built into the hood for better airflow in the engine while improving traction.
Just like an emblem, the grille is sometimes considered an automaker’s signature. It’s one of the most distinct differentiators between a car manufacturer and its competitors. For instance, Rolls Royce vehicles are known for their manually positioned grille slats, which add to their sophisticated and luxurious look. BMW vehicles, on the other hand, have been sporting twin-oval or kidney-shaped grilles for many years. Some automakers like Cadillac and Volvo are popular for having their emblem mounted on their grilles.
How Electric Vehicles Are Reimagining the Grille
Electric cars don’t have a combustible engine or radiator that needs cooling. However, many automakers still have grilles installed in front of their electric vehicles. Here’s why:
Electric powertrains may not generate as much heat as internal combustion engines, but their motors and batteries still require cooling.
Grilles in electric vehicles are also used as an identifying element that upholds an automaker’s brand. Because there’s no engine and radiator to cool, car manufacturers that have entered the electric vehicle segment have found creative ways to reinvent the function of grilles.
For example, Hummer electric vehicles have grilles that have a storage compartment behind them. Meanwhile, BMW models like the i4 and iX have grilles built into them to hide cameras and other sensors.
Can You Drive With a Missing or Damaged Grille?
A missing or damaged grille won’t affect your vehicle’s drivability. However, you’ll be risking exposing your engine and radiator to road debris and the elements until your grille is replaced. This may lead to more repairs down the road, which may cost you more than a grille replacement.
OEM vs. Aftermarket Grilles: What’s the Difference?
When it comes to replacing your vehicle’s grille, it’s important to consider whether you’re getting an aftermarket or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement. Here’s how to differentiate them:
OEM grilles are manufactured by the automaker or its affiliated partners, while aftermarket grilles are made by third-party manufacturers, which are not affiliated with the brand. Both are excellent options for replacing or upgrading your grille. OEM and aftermarket grilles are made in world-class facilities using the same advanced technology and undergo strict quality control.
Because OEM grilles are only made by a single manufacturer, you may have to wait weeks for your order to arrive at the dealership. Aftermarket replacements, on the other hand, are more readily available and can be easily ordered online.
Because OEM grilles carry the automaker’s brand name, they tend to cost more than an aftermarket replacement. A great way to save on repairs is to go the aftermarket route, where you can get the same look and quality at a more competitive price.
What’s great about aftermarket grilles is that they come in a wider variety of styles. If you want to make your ride stand out, choosing a replacement grille in a different finish or design can drastically change the look of your vehicle.
How Much Will a New Grille Cost?
A replacement grille can cost anywhere between $200 and $2,000 (excluding labor costs). Prices will vary depending on your vehicle’s year, make, and model. Other factors that may affect the price include the brand, type (grille, grille insert, grille shell, etc.), and material (plastic, steel, stainless steel, ABS plastic, Aluminum, etc.).
Here are some tutorial videos on how to replace your front grille:
Keeping Your Grille Clean
To keep your vehicle looking and performing its best, you must keep its grille clean to allow maximum airflow to enter the engine.
Cleaning your vehicle’s grille is a relatively easy task. Using a chamois cloth or microfiber cloth with soap and water is the simplest way to clean it. You can use a nylon brush for chrome and honeycomb grilles to avoid scratching the paint. Experts recommend using cleaning liquid to keep the grille looking sleek and shiny.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.