Introduction: How to Purchase, Paint, and Install a Plastic Bumper Cover

In this instructable you will learn how to purchase, paint and install a replacement plastic bumper on your vehicle, for about half the cost you would pay an auto body repair shop.

For this job you will need the following:
  • 10 millimeter socket and ratchet
  • An auto body clip puller
  • Phillips screwderiver
  • Two cans of factory matched automotive body spray paint
  • Two cans of automotive clearcoat
  • A dust mask or respirator
  • 4 oz. of wax and grease remover
  • A lint free cloth
  • A spray bottle filled with water
This is a rear bumper for a 2003 Odyssey. I called local car dealers and was quoted about $475 for this piece. I ended up buying it from for $315 including shipping, and it showed up in about 4 days. Another good source for pieces like this is ebay.

Step 1: Clean and Prepare Bumper

Your bumper is going to arrive with a black primer already applied, but it tends to be a little bit rough and have some flaws, so you're first going to want to wet sand the whole bumper with 600-grit sandpaper, then wipe down the entire bumper with wax and grease remover. Apply wet with disposable towel one, and dry with a separate shop towel.

Step 2: Apply Base Coat

Shake up your basecoat can for about a minute. When you're spraying your basecoat make sure you're at a distance of about 12 inches; that's the span of your pinky to your thumb. Spray very light coats so that you don't get a run. Try to apply your paint with each pass so that it overlaps the previous pass by about 50%.

If you're spraying silver or gold--like I am here--it's important to throw in some vertical strokes of paint so that you don't get "tiger striping". If you're spraying in your garage make sure that you have the garage door open, and wear a dusk mask at the minimum or even a respirator if you have one. If you're spraying in a temperature of below 55 degrees--also like I am--it really helps to have a heat gun; from a distance of about 12 inches it really speeds up the drying of your base coat.

When you're working on the underside of the bumper essentially nobody is ever going to see this, so don't spend a lot of time trying to get perfect coverage; just one, maybe two layers is fine.

Step 3: Apply Clearcoat

When you apply your clearcoat it's a lot like basecoat: about 12 inches, really light coats, 50% overlap with each coat.

Once you are done let it dry for about six hours before installing it on the car. If you happen to put a run in your clearcoat let it sit up for six hours, wet sand it with 600 grit, apply a little bit of basecoat and apply clearcoat over the top.

Step 4: Remove Old Bumper

Locate all of the clips bolts and screw sholding it in place. To remove these clips insert a screwdriver and loosen the male part of the clip, pull up, and then use your clip puller to get under the female part of the clip. Once you have all of your clips and bolts out, it should come out without much force. If you are having trouble removing it, check again; you might have to remove tail lamps.

Step 5: Install New Bumper

Remove and transfer any plastic trim from the old bumper to the new bumper. If you have a foam absorber inside the bumper structure and you are having trouble keeping it in place, tape it down temporarily. Once the bumper is attached, replace the bolts out clips you took out in the previous step. When applying clips take the male part of out of the female; the female part goes in first, the male afterwards.