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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Cosmetic and Lighting Modifications (exterior/interior) > Just installed painted reflectors - made some mistakes - heres some advice



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      06-02-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
goofyboots81
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Just installed painted reflectors - made some mistakes - heres some advice

I received my matte black kidney grilles and painted (TiAg Metallic) reflectors on Friday. I installed the grilles yesterday with no problems, they look great. Can't say the same for the painted reflectors, although in the end I am still very happy with them.

Note: This installation was on a 2010 E92 335i.

What went wrong:

-I chose to do the driver side first (regretting that since I look at the driver side 95% of the time when I see the car).

-I used a heat gun on the high setting, keeping the gun about 4 inches away and always in motion. While I think this was the right way to go, I probably should have had the gun on the low heat setting. Most people get away with using a hair dryer from what I've read, and the more you heat glue up the easier it will come off, but the easier the plastic bumper can be damaged. Keep this in mind when your heating the glue up.

-I was using a screw driver to start the process of peeling the reflector away from the bumper. I got impatient and twisted the screw driver. Big mistake. I now have a few dimples in my bumper Very stupid - I should have seen that coming.

-The passenger side came out a little better because I had more patience and didn't twist the screw driver. I kept it at a very low angle and wedged it between the bumper and reflector very carefully, watching closely for any sign of a dimple forming.

Tips:
-Use a heat gun on a low setting (All of the adhesive came of PERFECTLY in one piece. No chipping away at excess glue).

-BE PATIENT. Use a flat head screw driver if you don't have body work tools. DO NOT TWIST THE SCREWDRIVER. Keep it nice and flush with the back of the bumper and stay at a very low angle, carefully working it forward until the reflector starts peeling away.

-When the reflectors starts peeling away carefully start pushing the reflector forward with light to moderate pressure using a rag so you don't burn your fingers. (Note: You may need to put the heat gun down and use your other hand to keep the bumper stable at the edge.)

-If you use a screwdriver handle or some other wedge to keep the plastic wheel well cover out of the way, make sure you don't accidentally have it pressing against the reflector. This goes without saying I guess, but I misjudged how long the reflector was and when I was working on the passenger side I was actually fighting with the glue AND the pressure from the screwdriver holding the bottom in place. The reflector practically fell out when I took out the screw driver handle.

Pics:

Too much heat ruined the reflector. Use the low heat setting if you use a heat gun.


Drivers side. Notice the dimples near the top of the reflector and the slight imperfection near the top middle of the painted insert.


Passenger Side - was going better and I actually have no idea how that imperfection happened. Luckily a little touch up paint should make it invisible. Maybe too much pressure too close to the edge of the reflector when I was removing it.


Passenger side finished.


Driver side done.


Passenger side done.


New matte black kidney grilles.


And as you can tell, I need some rims and a slight drop.
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      06-02-2013, 06:42 PM   #2
GreekboyD
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I did this last summer with a friend and found that it's easier having the car off the ground and turning the front tire away for more room depending which side you're working on.

I totally stayed away from screwdrivers though.
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      06-02-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
itrocks4u
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Goo gone really helped me when I did it. comes off really easy then.
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      06-02-2013, 09:07 PM   #4
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how did you screw it up that bad? all i did was gently pull the reflector away from the bumper. just took my time and then cleaned up the left over tape residue with goo gone. then i used alcohol to prep the surface and remove all dirt. some people really shouldnt mess with cars if they cant even change a reflector. did you really need the heat gun?
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      06-02-2013, 09:18 PM   #5
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What I do notice with the drivers side imperfections pic is that your rim is curbed
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      06-03-2013, 12:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by project335i View Post
What I do notice with the drivers side imperfections pic is that your rim is curbed
Haha yeah I noticed that when I posted the picture. Pretty sure it was like that when I bought it I just never noticed it. I definitely never curbed it.
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      06-03-2013, 12:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdeerfield View Post
how did you screw it up that bad? all i did was gently pull the reflector away from the bumper. just took my time and then cleaned up the left over tape residue with goo gone. then i used alcohol to prep the surface and remove all dirt. some people really shouldnt mess with cars if they cant even change a reflector. did you really need the heat gun?
Yeah man its kinda bullshit. I'm actually pretty mechanically inclined but when your working with heated plastic and a screwdriver shit happens. I have no problem "messing with my car" but that was a more sensitive operation than I anticipated. Maybe you have softer hands than I do.

Need the heatgun? No, other people get away with a hairdryer. I've also read about other people using a heat gun because the glue comes off much cleaner which proved to be the case.

You didn't use any heat at all?
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      06-03-2013, 06:30 AM   #8
GreekboyD
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Dude, main thing is that you shouldn't have used the screwdriver.
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      06-03-2013, 07:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofyboots81 View Post
Yeah man its kinda bullshit. I'm actually pretty mechanically inclined but when your working with heated plastic and a screwdriver shit happens. I have no problem "messing with my car" but that was a more sensitive operation than I anticipated. Maybe you have softer hands than I do.

Need the heatgun? No, other people get away with a hairdryer. I've also read about other people using a heat gun because the glue comes off much cleaner which proved to be the case.

You didn't use any heat at all?
did not use any heat at all. just kinda pushed on the face of the reflector and pulled it from the back. Had to be gentle as the bumper outside section is so thin. then i just cleaned up the backside and popped the new ones in. Apparently i got lucky. sorry you had troubles.
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      06-03-2013, 01:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdeerfield View Post
did not use any heat at all. just kinda pushed on the face of the reflector and pulled it from the back. Had to be gentle as the bumper outside section is so thin. then i just cleaned up the backside and popped the new ones in. Apparently i got lucky. sorry you had troubles.
Yeah I don't think there was anyway it was coming out with no heat at all but that's good you didn't need to use any. Also good you didn't snap the thin section of the bumper.
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      06-03-2013, 01:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreekboyD View Post
Dude, main thing is that you shouldn't have used the screwdriver.
Yeah hindsight it 20/20. I did use the screwdriver on the 2nd attempt and it worked just fine - no dimples. I think the minor damage on the 2nd attempt was me pushing against the reflector too close to the bumper and some of the plastic just folded in since it was so hot.

Honestly though after looking at the car today I think it looks great and I can't really notice any of the damage I did. I'm happy with it.
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      06-03-2013, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by project335i View Post
What I do notice with the drivers side imperfections pic is that your rim is curbed


Side note: When you took the reflectors out, did you have remaining glue on the inside of your fender? Because when I did mine, pretty much all the glue stayed on the inside of the fender. (im guessing I didnt heat it long enough) I tried pealing it off but it was just too annoying and I went ahead and put the painted ones on over it. It looks good, but I wish it was more flush.
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      06-03-2013, 02:44 PM   #13
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blow dryer + small metal spatula (1" wide) + patience = each reflector off in less than 10 min

people shouldn't try to overthink this mod.
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      06-03-2013, 03:44 PM   #14
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If you did the driver's side first (and learned from it), how come your passenger's side is damaged by screwdriver even more?
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      06-04-2013, 07:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofyboots81 View Post
Yeah hindsight it 20/20. I did use the screwdriver on the 2nd attempt and it worked just fine - no dimples. I think the minor damage on the 2nd attempt was me pushing against the reflector too close to the bumper and some of the plastic just folded in since it was so hot.

Honestly though after looking at the car today I think it looks great and I can't really notice any of the damage I did. I'm happy with it.
Where did you get your reflectors from?
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      06-04-2013, 10:40 AM   #16
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Definitely start with a conservative amount of heat. No tools should be needed.

You can easily melt your paint and bumper with heat guns.
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      06-06-2013, 04:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett335i View Post


Side note: When you took the reflectors out, did you have remaining glue on the inside of your fender? Because when I did mine, pretty much all the glue stayed on the inside of the fender. (im guessing I didnt heat it long enough) I tried pealing it off but it was just too annoying and I went ahead and put the painted ones on over it. It looks good, but I wish it was more flush.
None whatsoever. It came off really clean, probably because of the amount of heat I used. The downside to using that much heat is that your bumper and paint become very sensitive. You need to find a balance.
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      06-06-2013, 04:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edirtaynine View Post
blow dryer + small metal spatula (1" wide) + patience = each reflector off in less than 10 min

people shouldn't try to overthink this mod.
Yeah looking back the screwdriver was a bad idea.
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      06-06-2013, 04:07 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mex2309 View Post
Where did you get your reflectors from?
ehrm.. mod bargains...
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      06-07-2013, 08:03 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdeerfield View Post
did not use any heat at all. just kinda pushed on the face of the reflector and pulled it from the back. Had to be gentle as the bumper outside section is so thin. then i just cleaned up the backside and popped the new ones in. Apparently i got lucky. sorry you had troubles.
Definitely got lucky! I've done two cars so far, and they were both a very laborious process to do properly and make sure I had removed all the adhesive tape. I found that using 3M adhesive remover spray was very helpful - pry the reflector from the inside using your fingers and give it a few blasts of the spray into the gap. Helps loosen it just a bit at a time. You'll have to repeat the process dozens of times, but it works. Applying heat on the outside works as well, again being careful to use low amounts of heat.
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      06-07-2013, 09:11 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwells View Post
Definitely got lucky! I've done two cars so far, and they were both a very laborious process to do properly and make sure I had removed all the adhesive tape. I found that using 3M adhesive remover spray was very helpful - pry the reflector from the inside using your fingers and give it a few blasts of the spray into the gap. Helps loosen it just a bit at a time. You'll have to repeat the process dozens of times, but it works. Applying heat on the outside works as well, again being careful to use low amounts of heat.
sounds good! we'll find out next week as i just put a deposit down on a 535i xdrive.
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