E90Post
 


GetBMWParts
 
BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > DIY Guides > DIY: Front License Plate Bumper Plugs



Comment
 
Tutorial Tools Search this Tutorial
DIY: Front License Plate Bumper Plugs
Published by morfinx
12-03-2012
DIY: Front License Plate Bumper Plugs

Many people have cars that have front license plate bracket that are drilled into the bumper, either by the dealer or by a previous owner. Case in point, my car:



Most people would agree that a car looks better without the bracket. I was always a little bit leery about going without since TX law requires a front plate. However, due to a (unintentional??) change to the law earlier this year, not having a front plate no longer has any punishments. So I decided to finally do it. But the problem is, what to do with the holes in the bumper? There are several options:

1. Use bumper plugs
2. Fill the holes yourself with fillers and paint over them. In fact, there is an excellent DIY guide here: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=755220
3. Get your bumper professionally filled and repainted
4. Buy a new bumper

Like many people, I decided to take the easiest and least expensive route, with bumper plugs. Most people order theirs from bumperplugs.com. However there are disadvantages:

1. Not super cheap - they charge $25 per pair plus $8 shipping. (Although after making them myself, I understand the amount of labor it takes. So now I don't think it's unreasonably priced)
2. They require you to ENLARGE the existing holes. This means the operation is not reversible - you cannot reinstall the license plate bracket after the fact.
3. Their plug caps, in my opinion, are quite large.

So I decided to make my own.

Step 1: Take the front license plate bracket off to assess the damage.



OUCH! Not only are there 4 holes instead of 2 (bottom 2 are not necessary due to the bracket's design), the edges of the holes are raised up due to the use of self-tapping screws.

Step 2: Remove the raised edges around the holes.

We want to remove the raised edges because we want the plugs to be able to sit flush with the bumper. Using an x-acto knife, VERY carefully trim away the raised edges around the holes. Do not trim too deep into the holes, as we still want to be able to reinstall the license plate brackets later if we need to.

Step 3: Purchase the plugs.

I would recommend going to Lowe's. I went to Home Depot, Advanced Auto, and Lowe's. Home Depot didn't have anything, Advanced had a small selection, where as Lowe's has a ton to choose from. I picked up the two smallest GM trim fasteners:



They are both made by Hillman, one is 881201, the other is 881192. The both have the same sized stems, but one has a larger diameter but flatter cap whereas the other has a smaller diameter but thicker cap (you will see in the later pictures). I bought 6 of each, in case I break any in the process (I ended up breaking one of the bigger ones). Ignore the one in the orange box, that's from Adanced Auto and is the same as the Hillman 881192 from Lowe's.

Step 4: Trim the stems.

Since I did not want to enlarge the existing holes, I needed to make sure that the plugs fit them. They do not - they are too big. So I used a dremel to carefully trim down the plug stems. To make sure I trim them down to the correct size, I used one of the self tapping screws I took off from the bracket and drilled a hole in a plastic CD spindle cover and used the hole as a size guide. Be careful not to use too much force, the trimmed down stems can break if too much force is applied. That's how I broke one of the plugs. Results:



Step 5: Paint prep.

Get a cardboard box, drill a bunch of holes in them ( I used the self tapping screw), and then put your plugs in it.



Step 6: Apply primer.

You can get all of your touch up paint supplies from paintscratch.com or automotivetouchup.com. You can also get them from a number of other places online. The primer and the clear coat you can get locally in your auto parts store, but the base coat needs to match the exact color of your car, so you will have to order it from one of those aforementioned places, or from the dealership's parts department.

Apply the primer to the plugs. I used a touch up paint bottle brush here. One coat is enough, as long as it covers all of the bare plastic surfaces.



Step 7: Apply base coats.

Wait about 30 minutes to let the primer dry. Then apply 2 coats of base coat, waiting 30 minutes between each coat.

I used a touch up pen here, because that's all I had at the time. DO NOT USE A TOUCH UP PEN! They are terrible and you will never be able to put down an even coat with it on anything other than a tiny scratch. Use a brush instead (or even better, spray it with an air brush if you have the equipment).

Step 8: Apply clear coats.

Let the base coats dry over night. The next day, apply 3 coats of clear coat, waiting 30 minutes between each coat. You can also do 4 coats, but no more than that.



Step 9: Wet sand and polish.

Let the clear coats dry for two to three days.

Put some water in a bucket. I added some Optimum No Rinse for lubrication, but you can also use a few drops of dish soap. Soak a piece of 2000 grit sandpaper (I used 3M) for 15 minutes.



Wet the surface of the plug cap, then use the sandpaper to lightly sand the surface back and forth in a single direction. Stop to rinse the cap frequently. I sanded each plug for about a minute. Dry with clean microfiber towel. At this point the paint surface should look hazy.

Now use a polishing compound to polish the paint surface. I used Meguiar's Ultimate Compound. Dab a little bit of the compound on a clean microfiber towel. Use medium pressure (careful not to break the plugs) and polish in a circular motion for about 90 seconds for each plug.

Final product:



Step 10: Test fit.

Now that we have two sets of finished plugs. Let's go test them!

Turned out that I trimmed too much off of the stems and the fit is quite loose. No problem, it lets me do the test fit easily.

Smaller/thicker plugs:


Bigger/thinner plugs:


After comparing the two, I decided the smaller plugs looked a little bit better.

Step 11: Final install.

Since the stems were too small, which resulted in a loose fit, I wrapped thread seal tape around them until they were thick enough for a secure fit in the holes. The end result:





As you can see from the picture, it's barely visible at close range and completely invisible further away. I did a some highway driving just to test the fit and the plugs didn't budge at all.

It's a lot of work to be sure, but I'm pretty happy with the results
__________________
E89 Z4 sDrive35i 7DCT "Zayna", Alpine White/Coral Red
E92 335i 6MT "Calixta", Space Grey/Coral Red [Retired]

Tutorial Tools
  #1  
By knight-rider on 03-28-2013, 02:11 PM
why wouldn't they just invent a front sticker license plate instead of the steel ones :s...
It breaks my heart to see the bumper drilled </3
Reply With Quote
  #2  
By morfinx on 03-28-2013, 02:53 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
40%40%40%
2
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
20%20%20%
1
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 53%
Quote:
Originally Posted by knight-rider View Post
why wouldn't they just invent a front sticker license plate instead of the steel ones :s...
It breaks my heart to see the bumper drilled </3
Well, it is what it is and we have to work with what we have
Reply With Quote
  #3  
By Fuji on 04-06-2014, 07:41 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
100%100%100%
5
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 100%
I know this is an old thread, but great write up! Will be keen to try it myself
Reply With Quote
  #4  
By morfinx on 04-07-2014, 09:32 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
40%40%40%
2
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
20%20%20%
1
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 53%
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryuunfujihara View Post
I know this is an old thread, but great write up! Will be keen to try it myself
Thanks! Just as an update, the bumper plugs are holding up great!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
By Fuji on 04-08-2014, 03:14 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
100%100%100%
5
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 100%
That's great news!

I've just ordered some trim fasteners on ebay... Should be on their way to me shortly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by morfinx View Post
Thanks! Just as an update, the bumper plugs are holding up great!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
By Hartge on 04-08-2014, 08:47 AM
nice and helpful
Reply With Quote
  #7  
By overdrivex on 09-17-2014, 06:59 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Hey thanks for the tutorial! I know this is kind of old, but do you have a clearer photo of the trimmed stems? Or does anyone else who has done it have a clearer picture?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
By morfinx on 09-17-2014, 10:16 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
40%40%40%
2
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
20%20%20%
1
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 53%
Quote:
Originally Posted by overdrivex View Post
Hey thanks for the tutorial! I know this is kind of old, but do you have a clearer photo of the trimmed stems? Or does anyone else who has done it have a clearer picture?
I don't unfortunately. I just used a Dremel sanding attachment to sand the stems down. Turned out I sanded it down a little too much and I had to wrap them in thread tape to make a tighter fit again. If you have specific questions regarding the stems, feel free to ask.

Just as an update, they are still holding up very well! No visible damage to them at all.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
By overdrivex on 09-18-2014, 05:39 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Quote:
Originally Posted by morfinx View Post
I don't unfortunately. I just used a Dremel sanding attachment to sand the stems down. Turned out I sanded it down a little too much and I had to wrap them in thread tape to make a tighter fit again. If you have specific questions regarding the stems, feel free to ask.

Just as an update, they are still holding up very well! No visible damage to them at all.
Ah okay thanks! Good to hear that if they are sanded down too much then thread tape can work. Also glad to hear they are holding up! Thats definitely a good sign.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
By Fuji on 09-18-2014, 07:53 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
100%100%100%
5
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 100%
Quote:
Originally Posted by overdrivex View Post
Hey thanks for the tutorial! I know this is kind of old, but do you have a clearer photo of the trimmed stems? Or does anyone else who has done it have a clearer picture?
I've got a couple left overs sitting around, of which I've trimmed the stems! Just as an FYI, I used a precision knife instead of a dremel tool.

Hope this helps

[IMG][/IMG]
Last edited by Fuji; 09-18-2014 at 07:59 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
By Fuji on 09-18-2014, 07:59 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
100%100%100%
5
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 100%
Another of the finished product
Reply With Quote
  #12  
By morfinx on 09-18-2014, 11:38 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
40%40%40%
2
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
20%20%20%
1
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 53%
That turned out really well ryuunfujihara!
Reply With Quote
  #13  
By overdrivex on 09-18-2014, 02:21 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryuunfujihara View Post
I've got a couple left overs sitting around, of which I've trimmed the stems! Just as an FYI, I used a precision knife instead of a dremel tool.

Hope this helps

[IMG][/IMG]
Hey thanks for the photo!!!! Looks good to me.





By the way, is this primer able to be used?

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/acc...er=550103_0_0_

Sorry, I don't want to mess it up too bad.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
By morfinx on 09-18-2014, 02:55 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
40%40%40%
2
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
20%20%20%
1
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 53%
Just go to any auto parts store's touch up paint isle. You should be able to find small tubes of primer and clear coat there. The base coat you should order it from one of the places mentioned in my guide, so it's matched to your car.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
By overdrivex on 09-18-2014, 04:27 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Quote:
Originally Posted by morfinx View Post
Just go to any auto parts store's touch up paint isle. You should be able to find small tubes of primer and clear coat there. The base coat you should order it from one of the places mentioned in my guide, so it's matched to your car.
Okay thanks! I have some base coat touch up paint I got from the dealership some time back. All I need now is clear coat and primer.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
By overdrivex on 09-19-2014, 02:24 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Dangit...looks like I can't do this to my car. I took off the front license plate holder, and holy #$#@$# its in bad shape under there! The previous owner definitely did something wrong under there. Theres the two mounting holes and a small, circular indentation that looks like the previous owner tried to screw in the mount straight into the bumper! Also, theres a long line under there missing some paint. I think I'll keep mine on until I can get the bumper replaced...bummer...
Reply With Quote
  #17  
By Fuji on 09-19-2014, 08:55 PM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
100%100%100%
5
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
100%100%100%
5
Average 100%
Quote:
Originally Posted by overdrivex View Post
Dangit...looks like I can't do this to my car. I took off the front license plate holder, and holy #$#@$# its in bad shape under there! The previous owner definitely did something wrong under there. Theres the two mounting holes and a small, circular indentation that looks like the previous owner tried to screw in the mount straight into the bumper! Also, theres a long line under there missing some paint. I think I'll keep mine on until I can get the bumper replaced...bummer...
That sucks! Maybe you can get a quote from a repair shop to fix it up? But if that was the case, they could fix the holes at the same time!

Gl with it
Reply With Quote
  #18  
By overdrivex on 09-21-2014, 11:50 AM
Member reviews
Difficulty [ 1 = Difficult ]
20%20%20%
1
Cost [ 1 = Expensive ]
100%100%100%
5
DIY Clarity [ 1 = Not clear ]
80%80%80%
4
Average 67%
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryuunfujihara View Post
That sucks! Maybe you can get a quote from a repair shop to fix it up? But if that was the case, they could fix the holes at the same time!

Gl with it
Yeah thats what I'm thinking of doing. I got a quote from one shop....$700!!!!! I can get a whole new bumper in that price! But I'm going to look at some others around me as well that are BMW certified.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
By JamesT335I on 12-07-2014, 08:15 AM
i never would have thought of this, great write up
Reply With Quote
Comment

Bookmarks

Tutorial Tools Search this Tutorial
Search this Tutorial:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:54 AM.




e90post
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.0
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
1Addicts.com, BIMMERPOST.com, E90Post.com, F30Post.com, M3Post.com, ZPost.com, 5Post.com, 6Post.com, 7Post.com, XBimmers.com logo and trademark are properties of BIMMERPOST