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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 06:38:15 PM   #1
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Default Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

Sooo I'm just looking to get some opinions here, I've done some research but haven't come up with much. What is everyone's thoughts on filling the reflectors on the front bumpers? I have always debated having it done when my bumper needs to be resprayed and I'm at that point now. I can't justify $500 for a new bumper when mine is if perfect shape, just needs a respray. Has any had this done or done it? Any suggestions? If it's feasible I'd like to see if the body guy can get it done and look correct. I love the look of a euro bumper but not the cost and no one is selling one these days. Just wanted peoples input.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 07:16:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

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Originally Posted by BMWjunkie11 View Post
Sooo I'm just looking to get some opinions here, I've done some research but haven't come up with much. What is everyone's thoughts on filling the reflectors on the front bumpers? I have always debated having it done when my bumper needs to be resprayed and I'm at that point now. I can't justify $500 for a new bumper when mine is if perfect shape, just needs a respray. Has any had this done or done it? Any suggestions? If it's feasible I'd like to see if the body guy can get it done and look correct. I love the look of a euro bumper but not the cost and no one is selling one these days. Just wanted peoples input.


Well bodywork+paint in a shop would cost you somewhere between 300-500bucks... if you know how to do it yourself then it can be done for much cheaper, automotive paint stores can match your paint if you can bring a piece to them to account for fade and whatnot since no matter how good it looks it had faded over the years.


Mine for example is a bit lighter than the actual Mystic blue metallic color. I took the tow hook cover for them to match and it was matched pretty close. cost for the spray and quality clear coat spray can (one that has the two parts in it) was about 60bucks. pretty sure bondo and some fiberglass won't cost much either. I believe I've seen autozone carry a kit w/ bondo+fiberglass.

Should be a lot of DIY's videos and whatnot as well around the internet on how to fill stuff like that on bumpers.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 07:26:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

IMO the only way to properly do it is to weld an ABS plastic blank in it, and then use a flexible filler. It's doable, just depends on if it will cost less than buying a euro bumper.

I've used that process on a previous car and it never cracked, and the bumper was still relatively flexible. Stay away from anyone who uses fiberglass.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 07:29:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

+1

if you just fill with bondo or glass, the area which you filled will show after a few heat cycles.

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Originally Posted by Jonnie86 View Post
IMO the only way to properly do it is to weld an ABS plastic blank in it, and then use a flexible filler. It's doable, just depends on if it will cost less than buying a euro bumper.

I've used that process on a previous car and it never cracked, and the bumper was still relatively flexible. Stay away from anyone who uses fiberglass.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 08:08:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnie86 View Post
IMO the only way to properly do it is to weld an ABS plastic blank in it, and then use a flexible filler. It's doable, just depends on if it will cost less than buying a euro bumper.

I've used that process on a previous car and it never cracked, and the bumper was still relatively flexible. Stay away from anyone who uses fiberglass.
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Originally Posted by daytonaviolet View Post
+1

if you just fill with bondo or glass, the area which you filled will show after a few heat cycles.
I've never done that before, any suggestions on how to do this?
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 08:23:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

you can get a donor bumper (peferably same type m3 bumper) which has the same material. cut a piece of it in the shape of the reflector hole. then get more of the material, melt it and pour it in the cracks. i've seen other cases where they just cover the back of the bumper opening with fiberglass and just pour the melted bumper material over the front side of the hole.

this way as the bumper gets hot and cold, since its the same material the shadow of the hole will never appear through your paint.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 08:28:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

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I've never done that before, any suggestions on how to do this?
They sell sheets of plastic, you cut out a shape that will fill the hole, then using a heat gun you bend the plastic cutout to match the curve of the bumper as close as you can get. The closer the better because you'll end up using less filler. After that you use a plastic welder (looks like a soldering iron), and its similar to tig welding, where you melt sticks of plastic and fuse the piece to the bumper. It's good practice to secure the plastic piece using a temporary bracket or rivets so it doesn't move around while you fuse it. You can then remove it once everything has cooled down and then fill any holes you left behind with the welder.

Once that's done you get a flexible filler, something specific for bumpers, and use that to fill any imperfections in your blank. I believe SEM makes a good one, I think on my car they used a Lord product. Follow that with some high build primer. Don't use anything that comes in an aerosol can because they don't fill enough.

I never had any ghosting effect where you can see the outline of the cutout, even after being out in the sun for months. Can't tell you how many times I've gone up to a car with shaved pieces only to find the outline of what they shaved under the paint. The problem is that different materials have different amounts of thermal expansion. Fiberglass and plastic don't expand at the same rate, and so even though it might look great before you paint it, once its been on the car for a while exposed to the elements you'll see signs of ghosting.

It's much more tedious than just laying some fiberglass on it but the results are worth it.

EDIT: you can also use a donor bumper like daytonaviolet said. So long as its the same type of plastic and you don't use excessive filler you shouldn't have any problems.

Last edited by Jonnie86; Fri, Jan-05-2018 at 08:34:29 PM.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 08:33:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

Quote:
Originally Posted by daytonaviolet View Post
you can get a donor bumper (peferably same type m3 bumper) which has the same material. cut a piece of it in the shape of the reflector hole. then get more of the material, melt it and pour it in the cracks. i've seen other cases where they just cover the back of the bumper opening with fiberglass and just pour the melted bumper material over the front side of the hole.

this way as the bumper gets hot and cold, since its the same material the shadow of the hole will never appear through your paint.
Ok I assume if I cut a piece I'll have to add the hot fill material on the back of the bumper to seal it up. I'm going to have to read into this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnie86 View Post
They sell sheets of plastic, you cut out a shape that will fill the hole, then using a heat gun you bend the plastic cutout to match the curve of the bumper as close as you can get. The closer the better because you'll end up using less filler. After that you use a plastic welder (looks like a soldering iron), and its similar to tig welding, where you melt sticks of plastic and fuse the piece to the bumper. It's good practice to secure the plastic piece using a temporary bracket or rivets so it doesn't move around while you fuse it. You can then remove it once everything has cooled down and then fill any holes you left behind with the welder.

Once that's done you get a flexible filler, something specific for bumpers, and use that to fill any imperfections in your blank. I believe SEM makes a good one, I think on my car they used a Lord product. Follow that with some high build primer. Don't use anything that comes in an aerosol can because they don't fill enough.

I never had any ghosting effect where you can see the outline of the cutout, even after being out in the sun for months. Can't tell you how many times I've gone up to a car with shaved pieces only to find the outline of what they shaved under the paint. The problem is that different materials have different amounts of thermal expansion. Fiberglass and plastic don't expand at the same rate, and so even though it might look great before you paint it, once its been on the car for a while exposed to the elements you'll see signs of ghosting.

It's much more tedious than just laying some fiberglass on it but the results are worth it.

EDIT: you can also use a donor bumper like daytonaviolet said. So long as its the same type of plastic and you don't use excessive filler you shouldn't have any problems.
This is very helpful too, I saw the black plastic pieces online, but it would be nice if I can find a piece of an oem bumper because it will already be the same thickness and will likely be easier to fit. I will have to find some of these plastic sticks, as I said before, I'd assume you'd fill it from the back side where appearance isn't an issue and you can use a body filler if you have any slight cracks on the front.
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Last edited by BMWjunkie11; Fri, Jan-05-2018 at 08:36:51 PM.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 08:56:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

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Originally Posted by BMWjunkie11 View Post
Ok I assume if I cut a piece I'll have to add the hot fill material on the back of the bumper to seal it up. I'm going to have to read into this.



This is very helpful too, I saw the black plastic pieces online, but it would be nice if I can find a piece of an oem bumper because it will already be the same thickness and will likely be easier to fit. I will have to find some of these plastic sticks, as I said before, I'd assume you'd fill it from the back side where appearance isn't an issue and you can use a body filler if you have any slight cracks on the front.
I would fill from the front, either way, you're going to sand and block everything smooth at each step of the process. I wouldn't be too worried about the thickness of it, try to match it as close as possible, avoid leaving any holes, and fuse it all the way through. Plastic is very forgiving so its not terribly difficult to work with. You shouldn't have any cracks. What you're filling are low spots or flat spots, high spots can be sanded down. If you leave a crack, it will present itself later on since the piece is constantly vibrating and being heated and cooled.

This is to give you an idea of what you're looking for with respect to the ABS rods.




I didn't mention it but it should go without saying, you need to sand the area you're filling down to bare plastic to make the best contact. Prep and patience are crucial.
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Old Fri, Jan-05-2018, 09:00:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonnie86 View Post
I would fill from the front, either way, you're going to sand and block everything smooth at each step of the process. I wouldn't be too worried about the thickness of it, try to match it as close as possible, avoid leaving any holes, and fuse it all the way through. Plastic is very forgiving so its not terribly difficult to work with. You shouldn't have any cracks. What you're filling are low spots or flat spots, high spots can be sanded down. If you leave a crack, it will present itself later on since the piece is constantly vibrating and being heated and cooled.

This is to give you an idea of what you're looking for with respect to the ABS rods.

https://www.amazon.com/Steinel-07421...d+abs+exterior

I didn't mention it but it should go without saying, you need to sand the area you're filling down to bare plastic to make the best contact. Prep and patience are crucial.
Yea I figured that I'd be sanding down to plastic, I'm assuming that when you do the welding it may not leave a smooth surface like a chalk might so you're going to have rough surfaces you're trying to file down. I suppose you can use something like a dremel to sand it down? I just want to make sure I do it right, body shop quoted me $950 to fill and paint the bumper.
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Discussing Filling Reflectors-Front Bumper in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)