this tech article I will go over the steps involved in painting the grille
surrounds on the BMW E36 3 Series. This is a cool little appearance trick
that will make the front of your BMW Look more modern and at the same time
add a personalized touch to your car. Keep in mind that this article is
specific to the E36, however it applies to all models of BMW.
first step is to remove the grilles from the car. This is done by opening
the hood and removing the upper radiator shroud. Then from inside the car,
lightly tap the grilles out. They should pop out of the front of the panel
with a little force.
with the grilles out of the car look at the backside of each grille. You
will need to remove the chrome surround piece from the plastic vents. On the
back of each grille, you will see 8 plastic tabs that hold the chrome pieces
to the plastic. Carefully bend these tabs back and remove the chrome
surround from the plastic. Set the plastic pieces aside in a safe place.
we will need to prep the chrome surrounds. Use some acetone or paint thinner
or a rag and clean the surrounds. Ideally you want to use a solvent that
contains xylene. This agent is phenomenal when prepping pieces for paint.
Itís ok to use force while cleaning, you wont take the chrome off. You
want to get the surrounds as clean as possible for the next step. Let the
surrounds dry for at least 15 minutes before continuing.
we will have to prime the surrounds. I use Wurth brand paint products. They
are a little expensive, however, this is the best spray paint I have ever
used. It adheres great, dries uniformly and without ripples, and leaves an
absolutely beautiful luster. Itís a good idea to practice painting on a
junk piece before you begin on the surrounds. Painting takes practice. Keep
in mind that spray paint usually works the best if the outside temperature
is between 70 and 90 degrees F. If you use spray paint is cold temperatures,
it will not cure correctly and will start to run. Whenever possible use a
heat lamp. I have three heat lamps in my upstairs bathroom, so I usually
paint outside, then move the pieces into the bathroom, turn on the lights
and let them cure under the 80+ F. lights.
use Wurth Self-Etch primer first, spraying one light coat of primer first.
This will help the adhesion of the final coat of primer. Then I wait 30
minutes, then go back and spray the final coat over the first coat. Now let
the primer dry. Itís a good idea to put the surrounds under a heat lamp at
this time. It will help the primer cure. After about 3 hours, we are ready
to sand the primer. Start out with 400 grit sand paper, and very lightly
sand the primer until there is a uniform smooth surface. Use progressively
higher grits of sandpaper until the primer is smooth as glass.
we are ready to start applying paint on the primer. I use Wurth Satin Black
Trim Paint. This stuff is amazing. You can use it to black out chrome trim,
paint steel or aluminum bumpers, or even vinyl! Start by applying a light
first coat (sometimes called a tack coat) to the surround. This will help
adhesion of the final coats. Let the tack coat dry for at least an hour
before continuing. Once dry, apply a second coat and let it dry for 3 hours.
Now, if you are so inclined, you can color sand the surrounds, however
Iíve found that this isnít needed when using Wurth products. The paint
dries almost perfectly smooth.
the surrounds dry overnight before re-installing. Now, re-attach the plastic
grille pieces to the surrounds, and push them back into the front panel on
the car. Lastly, re-install the radiator upper shroud.
a final note, any time you are painting anything, the final result is
directly proportional to the time invested in prep work. Essentially, what
this means is, if the prep work is good enough, you can have a $500 paint
job on a car look like a $5000 job. Just be prepared to be patient, and take
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like
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