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Easy DIY: How To Install a New Replacement Bumper

DIY, Exterior, Guides  /   /  By Daniel Gray

Installing a pre-painted replacement bumper can be a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to having a conventional auto-body shop do the job. Last year, we discussed this approach in our post, Paint A Part: Super Fast DIY Body Repair.” You can order a pre-painted bumper on Paint A Part’s eBay Store. That’s what we did for the replacement bumper of a 1999 Honda Civic HX, with its original Vogue Silver still in good shape. 

Keep this in mind: pre-painted bumper replacements are fast, easy, and inexpensive. But color-matching for solid colors can be more exact than with metallic finishes. The vast majority of factory colors do not come straight out of the can and should be custom-mixed by a professional body shop if you’re aiming for perfection.

The DIY Process

Bumper replacement is much easier with the car up on ramps.

Bumper replacement is much easier with the car up on ramps.

Replacing Civic bumpers is an easy task that doesn’t require special tools. On the sixth-generation Civic, you’ll need flat blade and Phillips screwdrivers, a set of metric sockets, and conventional wrenches. You should raise the front of the car to access the fasteners underneath the bumper. A sturdy set of lift ramps is the safest way to do this. (Also see, “Affordable Garage Lifts: Understanding Your Options.”)

Once the car is up on the ramps, remove the plastic push-button fasteners at the top of the grille and bumper. Then, remove the bolts inside the fender wells and all of the fasteners underneath the bumper. Once all of the fasteners have been removed, the bumper will pop off the car with an easy tug.

Paint-A-Part does an excellent job of packaging—carefully wrapping each bumper with protective paper, heavy-duty cardboard, and plastic film. The three-layer approach provides ample protection for the rigors of shipping.

Directly swapping the fasteners from the old to the new bumper helps avoid misplacing any of the pieces.

Directly swapping the fasteners from the old to the new bumper helps avoid misplacing any of the pieces.

The next step is removing the grille and all the fasteners from the old bumper so you can fit them to the new bumper. The process will go smoothly if you swap the fasteners directly from the old bumper to the new bumper. This tactic reduces the chances of misplacing any fasteners.

The Civic's bumper foam is held in place by friction. No adhesives are necessary.

The Civic’s bumper foam is held in place by friction. No adhesives are necessary.

While most of the job can be handled by one person, having a buddy assist with alignment is a huge help.

While most of the job can be handled by one person, having a buddy assist with alignment is a huge help.

Once the grille and the fasteners have been swapped over—and before fitting the bumper skin—you need to mount the original bumper foam onto the car. Having a buddy on hand to assist in positioning the bumper is a huge help. One person should hold the bumper in place as the other one installs the fasteners, starting at the top and working down for greatest ease.

The transformation took less than an hour.

The transformation took less than an hour.

The entire process for replacing the bumper takes about an hour—with very satisfying results. The change in our Civic’s appearance was dramatic.

About the Author

Daniel Gray is a best-selling tech author and video maker. He is also the road-test editor at Autobytel and the creative force behind MPGomatic.com. Dan has had the good fortune to own a string of notable Hondas, including a CRX Si and a trio of S2000s. His legendary beater 1999 Civic HX coupe, a.k.a. “Slambo,” is a rolling experiment in hardware-store aerodynamics.

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