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Removing Your Front Bumper
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Removing Your Front Bumper

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$0

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, trim removal tools

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Fog light, horn, headlight washer

Hot Tip:

Get help from a friend when lifting bumper off car

Performance Gain:

Allows easy access to radiator, alternator, supercharger and other engine components.

Complementary Modification:

Polish your head lights
BMW E46 models use a plastic bumper cover over a rigid strut-supported aluminum bumper. This cover is painted to match your vehicle. It is frequently scratched and damaged. The bumper cover can be replaced quite easily. You can replace a bumper cover with a factory part, or an aftermarket one if you want to upgrade the look of your E46. Remember to plan to have it painted before you install it, so leave yourself extra time.

In this article, I will go over the steps involved with removing the front bumper cover. Removing it is required to service the A/C condenser, headlight assembly, horns, and headlight washers. The headlight washers may be the biggest concern behind the bumper as they frequently leak. 

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Raise the front of your vehicle and support it safely using jack stands. See our Pelican Parts technical article on Jacking Up Your BMW. 
Start working at the left and right lower corners of the bumper.
Figure 1

Start working at the left and right lower corners of the bumper. Remove the bumper trim piece by disconnecting the catch (yellow arrows).

To remove the trim piece, grasp firmly on the inside edge and pull it out of the bumper cover - this mat might require a little wiggling.
Figure 2

To remove the trim piece, grasp firmly on the inside edge and pull it out of the bumper cover - this mat might require a little wiggling. If it gives you a hard time, you can use a plastic prying tool to disconnect the catches.

Working from under vehicle, rotate the engine splash shield fasteners 90 degrees (arrows) then remove it.
Figure 3

Working from under vehicle, rotate the engine splash shield fasteners 90 degrees (arrows) then remove it.

Working from under vehicle, remove the screws from the left and right lower corners of the front bumper, two on each side (yellow arrows).
Figure 4

Working from under vehicle, remove the screws from the left and right lower corners of the front bumper, two on each side (yellow arrows).

Next, working inside the right and left wheel wells, remove the wheel well liner screws.
Figure 5

Next, working inside the right and left wheel wells, remove the wheel well liner screws. But only remove the outer screw, indicated by yellow arrow. If no screws are present, using a plastic prying tool, gently pull the wheel well liner from the bumper cover.

Locate the bumper bolt access holes at the bottom of your bumper (yellow arrows).
Figure 6

Locate the bumper bolt access holes at the bottom of your bumper (yellow arrows).

Working through the access holes, use an E12 socket and a 1 inch extension
Figure 7

Working through the access holes, use an E12 socket and a 1 inch extension to loosen the bumper bolts.

Remove the bumper mounting bolts.
Figure 8

Remove the bumper mounting bolts.

With all fasteners removed from front bumper, slide the bumper out enough to access the electrical connectors for the horn, fog lights, ambient temperature sensor, and headlight washer hoses - disconnect the applicable items by gently pushing or pulling the clips by hand.
Figure 9

With all fasteners removed from front bumper, slide the bumper out enough to access the electrical connectors for the horn, fog lights, ambient temperature sensor, and headlight washer hoses - disconnect the applicable items by gently pushing or pulling the clips by hand. (yellow arrows)

Next, with help from a friend, slide the bumper off the support and remove.
Figure 10

Next, with help from a friend, slide the bumper off the support and remove. When removing the cover be careful not to scratch the bumper cover or snag any previously disconnected items

To install the front bumper, start by partially installing the bumper while leaving enough space to access electrical connectors and hoses.
Figure 11

To install the front bumper, start by partially installing the bumper while leaving enough space to access electrical connectors and hoses. Reconnect the disconnected items. Slide the bumper cover onto the bumper supports and torque the bumper bolts to specs as shown. Install the lower bumper screws and reattach the wheel well liner to the bumper. Install the fog light / bumper trim in reverse of removal and check the bumper alignment with the body to make sure everything is flush.

If bumper height adjustment is needed, you can raise or lower bumper by turning the height adjuster in bumper support.
Figure 12

If bumper height adjustment is needed, you can raise or lower bumper by turning the height adjuster in bumper support.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Kevin S. Comments: Front bumper cover fell off wife's car. Investigation revealed it had been removed and reinstalled improperly at some point before we bought it. I purchased a new cover and hardware and have two questions I'm unable to find an answer to: What hardware is used to fasten the bumper cover to the carrier All of these connectors were broken or missing but appear to be some type of plastic rivet and what hardware is used to attach the bottom of the cover to the splash guard - if any? There are holes in the splash guard that line up with holes in the bumper cover, but I don't see any diagrams at RealOEM that show any fasteners for that purpose.
December 8, 2016
T. Comments: I am hoping there is a trim repair kit that would include necessary bolts, clips, stabilizers for reattaching the front bumper trim. We drove up on a parking curb and tore the front bumper trim cover off of the aluminum bumper frame. I believe the previous owner had not attached it correctly. I don't have any clips or bolts remaining to put it back on and I'm not sure what was there to start with so I can replace it. Any suggestions?
Thank you in advance.
July 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: a kit can be easily put together.


Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Mdcarrier05 Comments: Great article, I have a 2006 M3 that I would like to remove the bumper cover and have it repainted. After looking at this mine is different and does not have the holes for the torx screws to be removed. It is the front fascia that an M3 has along with the air ducts in the front.
Can you help with installation instructions
January 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't currently have that tech article. If we get a chance to perform the procedure, we will be sure to document it.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
April Comments: I had it checked. Only ambient air sensor code
July 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Fix the sensor, then check power, ground and data to the cluster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
April Comments: and started walking away and the sunroof decided to close. With no key.
This cannot be caused by the dash cluster so I am glad I didn’t let the mechanics fix it yet. The car never had issues before, now it has gremlins. Now it shuts off on me while I am driving. EML / Oil / Brake / etc lights come on, the whole car starts shaking and slowing down then shuts off. When I start it up sometimes it starts very rough. Shaking and the RPMs are highly unsteady. I have to turn it off and back on until it starts correctly.
I cannot lock or unlock the doors with the console button. Only manually with the key. When I lock the doors with the key – the emergency flashers go off. That’s the only time the emergency flashers work.
July 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I responded under the other questions. The fault codes are going to be the key here, you either have a module fault or cluster failing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
April Comments: I am sorry I do not see a relevant article to post this on.
I need help.

I desperately need advice. I have a 2005 BMW 325i auto. It has 88k on it. I have had the vehicle over two years and have never really had any serious problems with it, until now. The ambient air sensor was ripped out and the plastic under the car that it hooks into was damaged fairly badly. –it’s a long story. I believe this started all of my problems. I am planning to replace the ambient air sensor but before I do I would like some advice from anyone that has possibly seen the same problems in their vehicles.
I have had the ambient air sensor replaced before, but it didn’t cause the same problems. I am not mechanically inclined. I know some, but not too much. I do not want to be taken advantage of at a mechanic shop over it. I am wondering if the sensor was pulled out hard enough to cause electrical problems?
So here we go.. The ambient air sensor and plastic was ripped up. The sensor is dragging on the ground. The A/C went out. I know this is due to the sensor registering a below freezing temperature and not allowing the A/C to come on.
About a week afterwards the dash cluster completely goes out. I did not know how fast I was going, how much gas I had or how many miles I had on the car. You cannot see or hear the turn signals. I checked all of the fuses and disconnected the battery for 30 minutes. Nothing worked. The battery was at 12. Right where it needed to be.
I drove like this for two days and took it to a local mechanic that specializes in BMW. They had the car for two days. They reset the computer by disconnecting the battery. Didn't work for them either. They told me that the Dash cluster was out. They said they could get one with 115K on it but it couldn't be reprogrammed. My car has quite a few less miles so I went and picked up my car and just drove it until I did a little research.
A couple of days later most of the dash cluster started working again. Mileage, speedometer, tach, gas gauge.. but the back lights do not illuminate and in the dark it’s difficult to see how fast you are going. Turn signals still do not illuminate and you cannot hear them. When half of the cluster started working again – more issues came up. All of the buttons on my steering wheel stopped working, and the sunroof became stuck open. – Randomly – a couple of days later it was raining so I was going to leave my car in someone’s garage – I took the key out – locked the door and started walk
July 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: These sensors are damaged all the time, and I have never seen them cause other components to fail.

I would start by checking the vehicle for fault codes. If multiple systems are not working properly, fault codes will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:20:31 AM