Blacking Out the Grille on Your Badlands Bronco – Step-by-Step Guide for Installing a Replica Bronco Grille
When it comes to accents on the Bronco, most of them look better blacked out. We recently blacked out the horse badge on the tailgate and it turned out great. Today, we’re going to swap out the factory gun-metal grey Badlands grille with a matte black grille from American Modified.
This is a very easy plug-and-play installation if you want to use the sub-par letters provided in the kit. However, if you want to use your OEM letters, the installation is a little more involved. Most of these replica grilles ship with aftermarket BRONCO letters and they’re pretty bad compared to the OEM letters. I haven’t seen one replica grille with OEM spec letters on any marketplace; Amazon or 3rd party retailers.
The only real challenge with the installation is that the OEM letters are glued to the grille and in order to remove them, they need to be cut off. Once the letters are cut off, you then need to decide how to attach them to the replica grille. You can glue, tape, or drill screws into the letters in order to fully secure them. I decided against the screws as they tend to deform the letters on the front side if you go too far. And because super glue and hot glue can get messy, I decided on double-sided VHB (Very High Bond) Tape.
If you want to avoid cutting off the factory letters, you can Plasti-dip or paint the gun-metal grille. I’ll leave links to the other two options below.
Find it online:
- Matte Black Badlands Grille (American Modified): Check Price
- 10% OFF with code: AMRE10
- Matte Black Automotive Paint: Check Price
- Plasti-Dip: Check Price
How To Blackout Badlands Grille
Table of Contents
Step 1. Remove Radiator Cover Clips
You can use two flathead screwdrivers, plastic trim tools, or plastic clip removal tools.
Step 2. Clip Removal Tool if Needed
These plastic clip removal tools from Gearwrench seem to work best for me, for these clips.
Step 3. Remove Radiator Cover
Once all the clips have been removed, you can slide out the radiator cover. You may need to pull off the intake inlet tube before removing the cover if it’s giving you trouble.
Step 4. Remove Grille Bolts
Now remove all four (4) grille bolts securing the grille to the radiator support. First, loosen the bolts with a ratcheting driver, and then use a power drill/driver. Be careful not to strip these bolts as you remove them. Avoid using an impact.
Step 5. Pull Outside Grille
To remove the grille, gently wiggle as you pull out on the grille. Pull on the corners first to break the clips free from their housing and then move to the center.
Step 6. Pull Center Grille
After the corners are free, pull out the center grille and remove the lower grille clips. Once the lower clips are free proceed to remove the grille from the Bronco.
Step 7. Use Dremel to Grind Down Tabs
The BRONCO letters are glued in place. I removed the surface glue with the Dremel and a double-cut carbide rotary burr set.
Step 8. Punch Out Letters with Dremel
Once the surface glue was removed, I punched out the letter with the tip of the bit by grinding it out.
Step 9. Clean off Letters
I cleaned up the backside of each letter using the Dremel bit so that it wouldn’t collide with the new grille.
You can see the drilled-out holes where the letters were previously glued. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to remove the letters at glance.
Step 10. Align Letters on New Grille
Once the letters are off, decide your preferred placement. The OEM letters are on the grille and the aftermarket BRONCO letters are on the ground. We were also missing the R in our package. The aftermarket letter “O” was the most noticeable as the corners are very sharp and the OEM letters are more rounded. That’s really the theme all the way around, the replica grille letters were very “boxy” compared to the OEM letters.
Step 11. Apply 3M VHP Double Sided Tape
For the front side, I applied VHB and then cut off the excess around the openings in the letters.
Step 12. Apply Letters & Cutoff Excess Tape
I applied more VHB for the backside of the grille to ensure the letters stayed on.
Step 13. Swap Upper Grille Support (T27 Torx)
Now swap the upper grille attachment to the new grille with a T27 Torx bit.
Step 14. Add New Clip Fasteners
Don’t forget to add the metal clips that came with your grille. These allow the sides of the grille to connect into place.
Step 15. Install new Grille
Once your grille is ready, snap everything down and then repeat the first few steps to reinstall the radiator cover and remaining hardware.
After (Matte Black)
This installation would be a lot easier if the aftermarket word made letters that were actually on par with the OEM “BRONCO” letters. Aside from that though, this grille looks amazing once it’s installed. The matte black color is exactly what we were looking for.