Header Panel Buyer's Guide
- A header panel is a plastic, metal, or fiberglass framework piece that surrounds the radiator and houses the vehicle’s headlights and grille. It can get dented even during minor collisions.
- The types of header panels are upper header panel and lower header panel. Header panel fabrications can be made of plastic, fiberglass, and a combination of plastic and fiberglass.
- It costs around $70 to $1,000.
- It is important to replace a header panel to keep mounted parts in place and to eliminate clunking noise caused by a loose part.
Headlights, grille, bumper, fog lamps, and air intake vents are just among the things commonly seen on the front end of the car. Beyond those are plastic and metal frameworks that aren’t visible to the naked eye for mounting exterior panels. These plastic or fiberglass pieces secure the parts that make up the outward appearance of your car. There are different panels found on the front end of a car; the biggest one, and probably the primary front piece, is the header panel.
What is a header panel?
A header panel is a plastic, metal, or fiberglass framework piece that surrounds the radiator and houses the vehicle’s headlights and grille. It serves as the structural support for these exterior components. Some header panels are completely concealed, while some are part of the fascia’s visual profile – usually observed on older cars and trucks. Header panels are attached to the vehicle frame using bolts and mounting clips. Depending on the vehicle that uses it, you may find header panels as a single piece, while some have separated grille mounting panel, bumper support, and headlight mounting panel.
Why do I need to know about header panels?
It is important to familiarize yourself with the header panel mainly because this framework piece gets damaged even during minor collisions. Beyond dented bumpers and busted-out headlights, you need to replace your header panel first before anything else. A damaged header panel will make it difficult for you to mount the headlights or grille replacements. Also, header pieces are less likely to be fixed due to the intricate and complex shapes, indentations, and creases on its surface. Frontal crash demands for a header panel replacement; good thing there are available good quality OE replacement parts.
Are there different types of header panel?
Header panels are specifically designed to fit specific vehicle models. That said, they are classified according to the location they are mounted on. Vehicle design is the main reason why manufacturers have to make variations of header panels. Some designs may require two-part panels, while some are even as complex as having a separate headlight housing and grille mounting panel.
Upper Header Panel
Some vehicles, like the 2013 Ford E-150, have grilles that are so huge; the header panel needs to be split into two. The upper header panel is one of those two header panel pieces which attaches on top of the vehicle frame and often over the lower panel. If you’re shopping for this part, it is better if you see a Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) Certified label. Having this certification indicates that the part is guaranteed to have good quality.
Lower Header Panel
A lower header panel is usually the bigger piece, as it includes the headlight and grille mount together. It has multiple holes in various shapes to accommodate all the bolts, clips, and pins needed to secure it in place. A lower header panel is necessary for the installation of headlights and grille so a damaged or bent lower header panel could make the task more difficult for you.
What are the different header panel fabrications?
There are three common fabrications of header panels; plastic, fiberglass, and a mix of both. Plastic header panels are the basic variants you could get in the market. Some are in the form of thermoplastic and others use ABS plastic. Meanwhile, fiberglass ones offer better durability. The more dynamic variant of the three is the combination of plastic and fiberglass, which fuses the varying traits of the two materials. When looking for an OEM replacement part, decide which fabrication material fits your car better.
How much does a header panel cost?
Header panels cost around $70 to $1,000, though this price range includes individual parts to kits. Individual OEM replacement header panels cost around $70 to $680, while kits range from $190 to $1,055. Meanwhile, an upper header panel costs $125 to $133 and a lower piece would cost you $407. You can purchase an upper and lower header panel together at a price of $609.
Why is it important to replace a header panel?
The header panel is crucial in keeping your headlights, grille, and fog lamps in place. They easily get damaged even at low-speed collisions and can crack due to the tension of fasteners securing it in place. Once a bolt hole cracks, the header panel could come loose, including the parts mounted on it. Driving with a damaged header panel may result in clunking noises due to the movement of loose parts attached to it.
It would be best if you have your vehicle checked by a mechanic for a proper evaluation of the damage present underneath your bumper. Although replacing the header panel is fairly easy, we still recommend that you let an experienced mechanic mount the OE replacement part for you. In replacing the header panel, you’ll need to work on your car’s electrical cables, wire harnesses, and plastic clips, which are all easy to damage if not handled with car.
Finding the right fit
Do you know where your vehicle's header panel is located? The header panel is mounted on your vehicle's front end, immediately ahead of the hood and above the bumper. The header panel is an important part of any car since it houses the grille and the headlights.
Unfortunately, though, this panel is often neglected during routine auto maintenance. This component is only given attention when it already needs replacement due to severe damage - say, after a minor frontal collision. And though the header panel doesn't really affect your vehicle's performance, it must be replaced immediately when damaged.
Don't worry, CarParts.com offers premium header panels that are custom-designed to meet your vehicle's specifications. Rest assured that every header panel in our stock comes from topnotch manufactures and is available at the most affordable prices.
- Made from high-grade materials for durability
- Matches your vehicle's required specifications
- Installs easily, no drilling and cutting required
Replacing your car's header panel
The front end of your vehicle holds vital parts like your grille and your headlights. Not only that, your header panel, being the "face" of your car, is a key component in creating your vehicle's overall look. Whether it's to replace a damaged header panel or to give your car a new look, installing this component is a job you can do yourself with the right tools and mechanical knowhow.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Here's what you'll need:
Wrench and socket set
New header panel
Vehicle owner manual
Personal protective equipment (gloves, closed-toe shoes, safety glasses)
Here are the steps:
- You will first need to remove your front grille. Open the hood of your vehicle and locate the screws attaching your grille to your header panel.
- Remove the screws using your Phillips screwdriver. After removing all the screws, pull the grille off the front of your vehicle.
- Using your flathead screwdriver, remove any plastic clips housing your headlamp bracket to your headlamp.
- Pull the headlamp assembly from the headlamp mount panel (remove any screws with your Phillips screwdriver).
- You will find a set of electrical plugs at the back of each headlamp. Carefully pull off these plugs so you can remove the headlamps completely.
- Use your socket wrench to remove the bolts holding your header panel.
- Slide the header panel off the front of your vehicle.
- Install the new header panel by attaching it in the same manner as your old header panel.
- Reinstall headlight and grille assemblies.
- Close the hood and check if everything is properly put together.
- Check your owner manual for specifications that may require you to deviate from these general instructions.