How to fix broken or weakened front bumper tabs

Discussion in 'DIY' started by jperls, May 23, 2018.

  1. jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    #1 jperls, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
    Most of us know by now that Ford did not engineer its front bumper perfectly. Case in point, the bumper is attached to the body via plastic tabs that either easily break, or loose their rigidity and flex...making it near impossible to re-attach the bumper to the body.

    After about a year of having my driver side bumper hanging out due to a faulty tab...I decided I had enough and came up with a way to fix it. Essentially what we are doing is taking the bumper retainer bracket and attaching it to the bumper and will then attach the bumper to the body by bringing the retainer bolts from behind the body to the bumper retainer bracket. The retainer bracket provides a strong enough support that the problem of broken tabs should not come up again.

    Furthermore, this method of attaching the bumper, will still keep it removable from the car, although it might be more time consuming.

    Tools needed
    1. socket set with 5mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm sockets
    2. Plastic glue or an extremely strong epoxy (JB weld recommended)
    3. Clamps
    4. Needle nose pliers
    5. Dremel and cutoff wheel (if applicable)
    6. 120 grit sandpaper (if applicable)

    Materials / parts needed
    1. Two 7mm body bolts
    2. Two plastic body clips in which the retainers will allow the 7mm bolt to screw into and will cause the retainer portion of the clip to expand (see picture 7 for example)
    3. ⅛in brass of aluminum L-bracket (if applicable)

    Steps

    1. Carefully remove your front bumper. There are plenty of youtube videos that show how to do this and what tools are needed.
    The first picture in this thread shows the worn out/broken bumper tab while the second picture shows an intact and not worn-out tab.

    2. Using an 8mm socket, remove the two bolts holding down the plastic retaining clip (see picture 3 for bolts to be removed and picture 4 for the retaining clip that you end up with)

    3. Using the remaining portion of the weakened tab...slide the retaining clip into the bumper tab.

    If the case is that your tab broke off and you still have it, get some ⅛in aluminum of brass L-brackets from a hobby store. Glue the tab to this and using a Dremel, cut-out the areas where the holes in the plastic are so the tab can be attached to the retaining clip. This should provide some reinforcement. Ensure that the metal is thin enough that it will not interfere with sliding the tab into the retaining clip (this was not my case, but I believe this will work).

    4. Glue the retaining clip to the bumper and clamp together.
    If your tab completely broke off, sand the face of the bumper and the edge of the tab that will be attached to the bumper. This will provide a surface for the glue to adhere to.
    I recommend taking this time to use the glue to also reinforce the weakened plastic areas of the tab as well.
    Picture 5 provides an example of what you should now have.

    5. While you are waiting for the glue to dry...go back to the car. You will see the two holes where the bolts that held the retainer clip are. Look behind the wheel-well liner and you will see metal tabs that are bent to form a V-shape. These tabs hold in body clips which the bolts for the bumper retainer clip are screwed (I could not get a picture...too tight of an area)

    Using needle-nose pliers, straighten out these tabs and remove the two body clips. Discard.

    6. Now that the glue is dry, take the plastic body clip retainers (see picture 6) and insert them into the holes of the bumper retaining clip where the bolts went into (see picture 8)

    7. Re-attach the front portion of the bumper to the car and secure...do not attach the sides just yet.

    8. If one side of your bumper has a good tab...go ahead and attach that side to the car...if both bumper tabs were bad...get some books or other things to prop up the sides of the bumper so the edge of the side of the bumper is just below the headlight.

    9. Take the 7mm body bolts (picture 7) and thread them into the body clip retainers installed into the bumper retainer clip in step 6.

    10. Go out and enjoy your mustang. 1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg 8.jpg
     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    Bump...only because this is such a common problem and I want to help people save A LOT of money :D
     
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  3. MasterCylinder

    MasterCylinder Well-Known Member

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    I'm still a little confused. I no read so good.
     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    Essentially...we are using the bumper bracket (picture 4) as the main form of supporting the bumper instead of the tabs. TO do this, we glue the bumper bracket to the bumper itself. We then have to reverse the direction that the bolts that attach the bumper bracket to the body of the car so that they come from the other side.

    If you all need me to take more photos, I can give it a try with my iPhone...but the quality will be nowhere near what I was able to achieve with my canon camera.
     
  5. sigintel

    sigintel Well-Known Member

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    Huge bump. Excellent thread.
    This is a serious design weakness, unless the idea is to sell more bumoer skins...

    This joint could be designed to be much more robust. It sux that it is so weak.
    Lots of track day peeps end up pop riveting the bumper skin to the fender.
    The mustang “floppy bumper”. Had a camaro owner tell me my bumper was looking flacid so he got a sweaty stinky balaclava to the face.

    Thanks for the thread on this. These things could be way more adjustable and way more robust, like a set of perpendicular ribs w snap nuts and an aligning flange set extended off the fende/light mount. Could also be easier on the production line where it can be placed and adjusted easily before tightening.
     
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  6. MasterCylinder

    MasterCylinder Well-Known Member

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    Ah ok that's kinda what I thought. I was just trying to wrap my head around how you ended up actually bolting it back to the frame after putting it on the bumper.
     
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  7. dogiebitt

    dogiebitt Well-Known Member

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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    The washer on the screws might be a little small. You kind of have to experiment here with the screws and the retainers to see what works. But those look similar to what I used...but I had a much larger washer. :)

    Good luck
     
  9. roskorocker

    roskorocker Member

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    Awesome write up. I've also seen people use these. But then you have a quick latch visible from the exterior. I haven't taken my bumper off yet, so I haven't experienced the issues first hand.
    Quik-Latch Products QL-25-BU1 1" Diameter Blue Anodized Aluminum Mini Quick Release Latch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0160TOHKS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_5w4dBbGKW8GWD


     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    The quick-latch kit is ok...but this allows you to not have to drill out your bumper...now if this version of the repair fails...then I would say go with the quick latch...but I would recommend trying this method first since not only is it cheaper, but you do not have to do any drilling, thus ruining your bumper cover.


    Thank you for the compliment on the writeup.
     
  11. emericA243

    emericA243 Well-Known Member

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    To each his own. My passengers tabs totally snapped off. Needing to go into the wheel well is a pain to get that one vertical bolt, now needing to go in to get these two as well is even more a nuisance. Great cheap fix and creative.

    I however have installed the quiklatch for a mere $20 and my front bumper removals have never been quicker or less painful.
     
  12. ryant601

    ryant601 Well-Known Member

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    What tools is everyone using for those two pesky bolts? There has to be a better way...
     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    #13 jperls, Jun 2, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
    Yes it is pesky (but nowhere near the agony related to that one bolt for the v6 shorty headers)...ratcheting wrenches are your friend here :D
     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    I have been thinking about if there could be an easier way and I had the though about substituting magnets for the bolts. Take one set of magnets and insert them into the bumper retainer bracket bolt holes (might have to drill them) and then a second set glued to the body where the bumper attaches. Just a thought.
     
  15. dogiebitt

    dogiebitt Well-Known Member

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  16. lisandra

    lisandra mama smurf

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    How bout gluing a nut on the retainer clip??
     
  17. 99Zeus99

    99Zeus99 Well-Known Member

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    Some good glue, hook and look Velcro or some Click Bond products would also work in my opinion. Once the car is moving, the airflow does most of the work holding it on.
     
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    jperls

    jperls Well-Known Member

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    These are great suggestions. Keep them coming :D
     
  19. lisandra

    lisandra mama smurf

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    Weekend after next im doing this, probably gonna your a nut to the clip, downside is that if the glue ever comes loose in never getting that bolt off
     
  20. Taterbootz

    Taterbootz Active Member

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    My bumper just got caught on the ground and broke and I was dreading filing a claim for literally a clip broken or putting those god awful quick latch dots on the bumper, but this seems like a workable solution.

    Do you have any more pics you can share as far as how it looks mounted from the inside?
     
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