How to Install Front Bumper

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So You Crashed Your Truck

Snow on the road causing traffic
KYU OH/DigitalVision/Getty Images

You were minding your own business, driving down the road, when something jumped right in front of you and you smashed up the front of your truck. Maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but in any case you need to replace a bent and squished front bumper so your friends and loved ones will stop giving you that look all the time. You know the look, that "you are a screw-up because you're driving a wrecked truck" look. In the case of this truck, however, something did jump right in front of it -- a six-point buck chasing some you-know-what. At least his final thoughts were pleasant and hopeful. 

Back to the fix, the truck needed a few things after the accident -- headlight replacement, a new transmission cooler, a grille and the bumper . I have to take this chance to remark that they just don't make bumpers like they used to. My brother and partner in Porsche crime hit a Honda Accord almost head on in his International Scout II and the bumper barely moved. The Accord looked like it had been dropped out of an airplane. This late model truck hits a nice, soft deer and it squishes the front like old fruit. Oh well. If you're not sure whether you should attempt this repair, ask yourself if you can do the job.

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Removing the Bent Bumper

bumper bolts
Remove the bolts from the front side of the bumper. photo by Matt Wright, 2014

Before you start, disconnect the fog lights by removing the harnesses or taking the connected bulbs out. 

To remove the old bumper, you need to unbolt all of the connection points. They are at the front of the bumper and will need to be removed. Luckily they are right there behind what is probably a broken trim piece. Remove all of these, but leave two of them loosely in place while you remove the next set of bolts. 

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Remove the Backside Bumper Bolts

GM truck front bumper
Remove the back side bumper bolts to get the bumper off. photo by Matt Wright, 2014

With the front bumper bolts out, you need to do a major reach around to get to the bolts on the back side of the bumper. Luckily there's lots of room in there for your arm and a wrench. You left two of the front bumper bolts loosely in place, so you don't have to worry about catching a falling bumper with one hand. Remove the backside bolts from each side, then you can remove the front bolts completely and take the bumper off. 

Stop! Even though you're mad at your bumper by now, don't toss it into the trash can or throw it down a hill just yet. There are lots of little parts (like your fog lights) that need to be transferred to the new bumper.  

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Transferring the Bumper Trim

GM truck spoiler bolts
Remove the bolts that attach the lower trim. photo by Matt Wright, 2014

With the bumper off, you can transfer any good parts from your old bumper to the new one. These parts are not expensive so if there is any reason not to use the old one, like broken mounting clips or other damage, I recommend buying a new part. You'll be happier in the long run. The lower spoiler is affixed with a number of bolts mounted along the joining edge. The upper trim cannot be reused as it's held in with plastic clips that don't come out easily. Besides, it's probably cracked! Remove the fog lights by unbolting the two bolts at the top where they meet the bumper. You're ready for new metal. 

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Reinstalling the Bumper

Front clips
These are the clips that will give you a headache when replacing the front bumper. photo by Matt Wright 2014

Usually at this point I tell you that installation is the reverse of removal and let you take it from here. Not exactly in this case. You do need to reinstall the lower bumper spoiler trim to the chrome bumper, and you'll need to bolt the bumper onto the bumper mounts -- both back and front side bolts -- but the final step involves lots of patience and a big hammer. With the bumper aligned and all of the bolts tightened, you need to install your new bumper top trim. It helps to do this in a warm place or on a warm day as you'll need the plastic top trim to be as flexible as possible. Start in the center and line up the plastic inserts with the holes in the bumper. Give it a solid whack with a rubber mallet. You may have to really bang on it, but this is the only way to make it happen. 

Once you've installed the top trim, your bumper replacement is done. Congrats!