Bumper Grille Buyer's Guide
- A bumper grille is a plastic or metal grate installed as an attachment or built into the bumper cover of a vehicle. It is commonly fitted under the grille assembly.
- Bumper grilles improve the look of the front of your car, allow air intake underneath the vehicle, and protect your undercarriage from road debris.
- These grilles are typically made of aluminum, stainless steel or ABS plastic. Grille designs are either billet or mesh.
- OEM replacement bumper grilles typically cost anywhere between $20 to $1,300.
- Replacement bumper grilles are recommended for low-cost customization, rust and corrosion prevention, protection from debris, and more.
The bumper grille is often overlooked because its purpose seems to be more about aesthetics than function. While it is true that a new bumper grille can effectively change the look of your car, there are several other reasons why it’s important to have in your vehicle. Let’s learn more about the bumper grille and find out when a replacement is needed for your car.
What is a bumper grille?
A bumper grille is a plastic or metal grate installed on the bumper of a vehicle. This part is typically fitted under the grille assembly and may come as an attachment or a built-in feature of the bumper cover. Some bumpers feature a single-center grille while others come in sets that include additional grilles under each headlight.
What are bumper grilles for?
Bumper grilles serve both a design and a utilitarian function. Grilles fitted onto the bumper allow air to flow under your vehicle for aerodynamics and cooling performance. This part also helps protect the undercarriage of your car from road debris that may cause significant damage while you’re driving at high speeds.
Types of bumper grilles
Bumper grilles are commonly made of metals like aluminum and stainless steel. These can also be molded from thermoplastics which are resistant to heat and impact, such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS.
These parts come in a variety of finishes namely; polished, chrome-plated, and powder coated. Much like the grille assembly, you may choose to customize your bumper grille with additional studs, trims, bezels, and even LED lights.
There are two common types of bumper grilles based on design: billet and mesh grilles.
The term billet used to be exclusive to grilles made of stacked bars machined from billet aluminum. Today, this term refers to any grille that features parallel bars. Billet grilles can be stacked horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. These may also come in flat or tubular bars.
This type of grille features a mesh design woven from individual steel bars that are either machine-cut and molded. Mesh grilles can resemble a honeycomb with diamond or hexagon patterns. Custom designs can also be molded into mesh grilles.
Why are replacement bumper grilles necessary?
Replacing an old or damaged bumper grille may not always be at the top of your list of priorities, but here are several reasons why you shouldn’t wait to get a replacement.
Switching out your vehicle’s bumper grille for a different one is a cost-effective way to update the look of your car. There is a wide variety of materials and designs to choose from. The smallest changes like switching from matte to a gloss finish can make a huge impact on the front fascia of your car. The wide availability of OEM replacement parts makes it convenient to customize to your liking.
Protect your car from debris
Driving without bumper grilles put the undercarriage of your car at risk for damage from the elements. Dents and cracks are often caused by rocks and branches that fly towards your vehicle while you’re driving at high speeds. To prevent costly repairs in the future, replace a damaged bumper grille immediately.
Repair damage due to collision
Some vehicle parts are better off replaced than repaired when damage is extensive. Bumper grilles built into the bumper cover may need to be replaced in the event of a collision. It’s important to switch out damaged components in the front of your car to maintain its integrity so that it absorbs force and minimizes impact in the event of a road accident.
Preventing rust and corrosion
The bumper grille is constantly exposed to the elements. Metal parts subjected to extreme temperatures and water exposure may eventually rust and corrode. Be sure to replace these parts immediately to prevent other metal components in your car from corroding as well.
Manage plastic deterioration
Over time, plastic components exposed to all types of weather tend to dry out and become brittle. When the material weakens, your car’s bumper grille can get holes and parts may break off when it gets hit with debris. Replacing damaged plastic bumper grilles is recommended to keep your car from looking old and dated.
Things to Consider when Buying a Bumper Grille
You may think that grilles are all about letting in air. That's what the slits are for, right? Well, yeah! But you can't deny that these grilles, especially those on the front end or the bumper, help create a perfect look for your vehicle as well. The grille can make your ride look flashier, fiercer, or even more luxurious. So if you want style and function all rolled into one, you may want to consider your options.
Grilles come in OEM factory style and custom designs. If you simply want a replacement that will retain the same look of your car, then go for OEM style. But if you want something different (with more designs and options to choose from), shop for custom bumper accessories.
Type of materials
Aluminum, stainless steel, or ABS plastic? So what's it going to be? To help you make up your mind, here's what you have to know about the different types of materials used in car grilles:
- Stainless steel - It is by far the most durable of all grille materials. In fact, it is three times tougher than aluminum. Stainless steel grilles have high resistance to corrosion and wear. They're quite easy to maintain as well, making them a great choice for off-road vehicles.
- Aluminum - What makes aluminum a commonly used material for grille construction is its light weight and flexibility. It can be easily molded into different shapes and designs. It's tough (though not as durable as stainless steel) and resistant to corrosion. This metal may sport a dull gray or sleek silvery color.
- ABS plastic - The best selling point of ABS plastic grilles is their cheaper price, not to mention that they're really light. This material won't rust. However, it's not as durable as steel.
The finish can make a difference to the overall effect or look of the grille. To help you decide what kind of grille to get, here are the different types of finish to think about:
- Chrome - What you'll like about this finish is that it's highly polished. So if you want something sleek on your vehicle exterior, then this could be the best choice for your grille.
- Painted - This is actually a subtype. The frame or mesh may be painted to complement the design and look of the vehicle.
- Powder-coated - This gives the grille the grainy surface. It may have the effect of graphite or matte.
- Customized - Different grille manufacturers offer different types of finish, from sleek to out of the ordinary.
How much does a bumper grille cost?
The cost of a replacement bumper grille varies depending on your vehicle’s year, model, and make. OEM replacement parts typically cost anywhere between $20 to $1,300. Grille components are either sold individually, in sets of 2 or 3, or as part of a complete grille and bumper assembly kit. While you may install this part on your own, we recommend going to a trusted mechanic to ensure a secure and proper fitting.
The How-To in Replacing a Bumper Grille
The bumper is your ride's first layer of defense against crash energy. It bends, cracks, or splits into two when absorbing such a powerful force. There's no doubt that the bumper serves as the muscle of your car or truck. But other than that, it can also be another element of style that can give your vehicle that sporty look, sophisticated charm, or even the oozing sex appeal. A bumper grille can definitely add a cosmetic touch to your ride. If you'll be replacing that old, worn-out grille, here's a quick guide.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- New bumper grille
- Trim panel removal tool
- Nut driver
Step 1: Pop the hood and keep it open with a hood a prop. Look for nuts, clips, and other fasteners that hold the bumper and the grille.
Step 2: Remove seals, covers, or whatever blocks complete access to the retainers of the grille.
Step 3: To take out the bumper grille, you may need to remove the bumper cover to get access to the retainers. Pry off the nuts, clips, and other seals on the top, bottom, or side of the cover.
Step 4: Now that you've already removed the old grille, see if the new one will fit perfectly. Some grilles may be readily installed; others require you to paint them first before installation.
Step 5: Install the new bumper grille. Line it up on the existing retaining holes and then reinstall the retainers. If the retainers are already worn out, replace them with new ones.
Step 6: Seal the retainers until they're locked in place, making sure that the bumper grille is secured.
Step 7: Put back the bumper cover you've removed. All clips, screws, or fasteners should be back in place.
Step 8: Close the hood and check the newly installed bumper grille. Take your vehicle for a test drive to see if the grille on your bumper is thoroughly sealed or still loose that it may fall off.
- When working on your vehicle, you should wear closed-toe shoes, overalls, and other protective clothing.
- Put on safety glasses or latex gloves if necessary.