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How To: Front Bumper and Headlight Removal

TMC,

Here is a guide for removing the front bumper and headlights on a Tesla Model S. The process isn't very difficult but when you don't know where to start or what to expect it can be unnecessarily challenging so I hope this thread takes the uncertainty out of the process.

Please understand this is a guide and intended to help but please take responsibility for your actions and use at your own risk. I recommend reading the entire guide before starting the process. Thanks to @SPXMike for lending his Model S and making this possible.

Evan


Tools:
- 10mm nut driver or 10mm socket w/ driver
- Interior trim tool or flathead screwdriver
- T20 Torx bit w/ driver
- Blanket, optional but recommended
- Blue Locktite, optional but recommended
- Painters Tape, optional but recommended
- Microfiber towel and quick detailer, optional but recommended


It is a good idea to wash the vehicle before the process as you will be contacting the bumper, fender, and hood.

Clear car, blankets down, let's begin...
IMG_5655.JPG


Raise the suspension up to the highest setting
IMG_5656.JPG


With the suspension raised it will make access under the car and in the wheel well easier
IMG_5661.JPG


The chin spoiler is connected to the underbody panel with some pop rivets
IMG_5668.JPG


Using an interior trim tool or screwdriver lift and remove the rivets
IMG_5670.JPG


There are 10 rivets total, only 7 are circled in this photo the passenger side has 3 rivets (2 blue 1 yellow) in the same orientation
IMG_5667.JPG


There is some variation between the rivets, the picture below represents their location when installed
IMG_5671.JPG


Once all 10 rivets are removed you can move to the wheel wells, use your T20 Torx bit to remove the screws connecting the bumper to the fender, there is one per wheel well
IMG_5672.JPG


Next, pop the frunk and remove the trim panels. To remove pull up on the outer edge by the fender and then up and away from the frunk, I had success starting near the hood hinge.
IMG_5674.JPG


This is the back side of the passenger trim. Note the 3 guides (red), the hole for the rubber hood-rest (blue), and plastic rivet (green)
IMG_5677.JPG


After the larger frunk trims (FRUNKTRIMS! lol ...what the frunk?) are removed there will be 2 small trim pieces located by the hood latch. Removing these may not be necessary but it seemed like a good idea to get them out of the way
IMG_5681.JPG


Use a pry tool to help you release the rivets (white) located on the bottom
IMG_5682.JPG


Rivet detail
IMG_5683.JPG


Remove 10mm bolts by the front of each headlight (2 total)
IMG_5685.JPG


Looking forward towards the rear of the passenger side headlight you can see the electrical connector for the bumper (yellow) and the headlight (red)
IMG_5687.JPG


The connector for the bumper has 3 clips which hold it in place. Disconnect the bumper connector and release the 3 clips guiding the cable. On Mike's car the cable was already removed from a previous mechanic and 2 clips were missing but you get the idea.
IMG_5696.JPG


The electrical connector for the bumper can be hard to reach and release so if you are having trouble there is another way to go about it. Make sure the 3 cable guides are released and before removing the bumper, set the air suspension to "low." When the bumper is removed (and cable still connected) if the car is lowered there should be enough slack in the cable to allow the bumper to rest on the ground and give enough room to access the headlights, Disconnecting the cable and completely removing the bumper is recommended. Here is a picture of the bumper off but cable still connected.
IMG_5771.JPG


The R and L corners of the bumper are held in place with a bumper bracket, the bracket has some hooks, the bumper can be removed by gently working the bumper away from the bracket starting at the rear and then lift the edges of the bumper up and away from the brackets.
IMG_5689.JPG


Once the bumper is free from the brackets the entire unit can be removed, this is best done with 2 people but can be done solo if you are careful. The bumper has a fair amount of heft to it with the fog lights and active cooling and wants to rotate backwards when free (top of bumper rotates towards car and chin spoiler away from car) so keep this in mind and protect both the bumper and fenders from unwanted contact. Bumper removed.
IMG_5691.JPG
 
Now is a great time to take a towel and quick detailer to clean the edges of the bumper and headlights
IMG_5693.JPG


The headlight is held in place by 4 screws, 2 here...
IMG_5700.JPG


...and 2 here
IMG_5701.JPG


Remove the 4 bolts, the odd one goes on the top of the headlight
IMG_5704.JPG


After the bolts are removed and electrical connection separated the headlights are ready to come out. This part takes a little bit of finesse as it is a tight fit between the subframe and the tip of the fender. When removing the headlights you will want to keep the tip of the fender in the bottom of the "crease" or "rut" the runs along the top of the headlight THIS IS THE ONLY WAY to get the headlights out unless you feel like removing the fenders. Keep the tip of the fender in the bottom of the V while slowly and gently pulling the headlight out. As the unit comes out you will need to tilt it slightly backwards. Be very patient and gentle with this process.
IMG_5717.JPG


Here is a pictorial guide for the movement needed while removing the headlight:
1
IMG_5717.JPG


2
IMG_5718.JPG


3
IMG_5719.JPG


Lights Out
IMG_5705.JPG


Congrats
IMG_5712.JPG
 
This is a great thread. Thank you.
Thank you
Excellent how to. Thank you!
Thank you too
Does that give direct access to the radiators?
Essentially, once the bumper is off there are some shrouds/ducts which would need to be removed before gaining access to the radiators but it looks like there are only a couple screws that need to be removed.

Evan

Pic of radiator shrouds
IMG_5750.JPG


Also, this is how I would recommend applying painter's tape during bumper install, it would be a good idea to put some on the ends of the bumper as well.
IMG_5751.JPG
 
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omarsultan

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jun 22, 2013
4,465
16,604
Northern California
Kinda off-topic, but I did this today to swap out headlights and I was amazed by the amount of compacted crap accumulated in front of the three radiators, especially the smaller left and right ones. If you do this, I suggest taking a few minutes to grab the shop vac and clean up up the areas in front of the radiators.
 
Awesome post. Thanks so much!
You are welcome.
Kinda off-topic, but I did this today to swap out headlights and I was amazed by the amount of compacted crap accumulated in front of the three radiators, especially the smaller left and right ones. If you do this, I suggest taking a few minutes to grab the shop vac and clean up up the areas in front of the radiators.
Great tip, gotta keep the car cool and happy.
Yes, and be sure to order the correct tools from China, in order to avoid any unnecessary damnification...
There is a wide array of trim tools available, some are to soft where they don't offer enough rigidity to work properly some are too brittle and can still markup surfaces so it can be a little bit of a crap shoot finding some but thankfully they are not expensive.
Well done!
Thank you.
Awesome guide. You beat me to it.

Where did you buy the blanket?
It was a moving blanket purchased from Amazon; came in a pack of 10 and was the cheapest offering on Amazon IIRC. They are awesome for garage projects; durable, padded, and semi hydrophobic.

Evan
 

FlatSix911

Porsche 918 Hybrid
Jun 15, 2015
7,629
8,015
Silicon Valley
Wow that's a lot of money for a front bumper.
I doubt the bumper costs more than a couple hundred dollars to produce, if that. Capitalism at its finest! Looks nice though.

Probably about the same price as a new bumper from Tesla ... have you checked OEM parts prices lately?
That said, I would consider the Facelift kit if I needed some minor repairs from a fender bender :cool:
 
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Wow that's a lot of money for a front bumper. I doubt the bumper costs more than a couple hundred dollars to produce, if that. Capitalism at its finest! Looks nice though.

To produce, perhaps, but if you sold them for a few hundred, how would you recoup your upfront investment - such as tooling and development costs?
 

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