Mercedes has its star, Citroën its double V, and BMW has the kidney as its unmistakable distinguishing feature. The idea behind the kidney was creating a two-part radiator grille as a prominent characteristic. Its shape and size have been adapted to different models without ever disappearing. Even the flattest car fronts, like those of M1 or 840i show this feature. The electric BMW, the i3 continues this tradition, even though not as a two-part radiator grille – an electric car has no radiator.
Why replacing a kidney grille?
According to the Daimler-Benz company, its star is the most frequently ordered spare part as this exposed component is easily stolen. The BMW kidney grille, on the other hand, is mostly left alone. There are other reasons for replacement, such as:
– repair of accident damage.
– creating a different look.
In both cases, the kidney must be removed from the front grille, the bonnet, or the front bumper prior to replacing it with a spare part.
Construction of a kidney grille
BMW kidney grilles greatly vary in size and shape. though its construction is almost always the same. The kidney grilles can either be disassembled as one piece or half per half.
In any case, they consist of two parts:
- One part is the actual plastic grille, of which you only see the longitudinal ribs when installed.
- The other part is the frame. Traditionally, BMW uses chromium metal.
After all, the BMW hallmark should be seen from a distance, and what better than using flashing chromium? Still, not all BMW owners are charmed by flashy conspicuousness.
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Damage to the kidney grille
The kidney grille is a rather exposed component, mainly made of plastic. It is therefore sensitive to any kind of collision.
Especially dangerous are tow bars of cars standing in front of a BMW. Slight bumps are often enough to seriously damage the kidney.
Its repair is only attempted when it is no longer available as a spare part. You might be able to restore the look somewhat. An actual repair with glue, stickers, or acryl is not likely to turn out satisfactory. These are makeshift solutions at best.
Visual disadvantages of the kidney grille
Traditionally, the BMW design implies progress. Driving dynamics, sporty look, and dominance should be obvious even on a parked model. In the old days, this was often emphasised by chromium and flashy decoration. Nowadays, many BMW drivers tend to value understatement.
A discrete colour of the kidney grille has a much cooler effect than the somewhat old-fashioned chromium, according to many BMW owners. Especially for this target group, replaceable kidneys have been developed, which can re-establish this look of understatement on the BMW front.
Challenges of a kidney grille replacement
A kidney grille is fixed to the BMW grille with screws and clips.
- Plastic clips have the annoying habit of breaking off. The construction is such, that a component is easy to install but difficult to remove.
- This applies to the kidney grilles as well. The challenge of replacing a kidney is, therefore, removing it from the bumper or the radiator grille without damage.
- The kidney itself should ideally remain undamaged too. It can be sold at a good price or stored by way of back-up in case of repairs.
Beginner tips: Remove as much as you can
- Professionals who are used to handling plastic clips should be able to replace a kidney grille completely.
- This is not recommended for beginners. The risk of breaking off important parts or causing scratches on the bodywork is too high.
- Therefore, beginners should remove a kidney “from the rear to the front“. If this means removing the grille or the bumper completely, you should be prepared to do that.
It is very important to be as careful as possible and understand the composition of the mounting completely.
- Screws can be unscrewed.
- Metal clips can be easily removed.
You should have some experience with sliding pins to be able to safely remove them:
- Sliding pins are two-part rivets, consisting of a head with a flat piece with an attached dowel. If you try to lever the pin on its flat side, you will only cause damage.
- The flat piece will break off whilst pushing the other side into the bumper.
- By loosening the head of the rivet pin with a plastic rivet wedge, the entire component can be pulled out with pointed pliers.
On the BMW F10, these components are mounted on the top side of the bumper.
- To avoid scratches, use as many special tools as possible for working on plastic. The special “trim wedges” or “rivet lever tools” and “plastic clip removers“, which can be obtained at the retailer, are preferable to a flat screwdriver.
- These tools only cost a few pounds. With their help, the work is a lot easier and you prevent a lot of annoying damage.
Installation is easy
Once the kidney is removed from its socket, the installation of the spare part is much easier.
- It is recommended to disassemble the spare part in its two separate modules and install them one by one.
- Then the plastic grill is inserted in the socket and secured tightly. As long as the decorative cover is not placed back, all the mounting points are better visible.
- Only when everything is in place can the cover be put back. In most models, it can be simply clicked in place.
- A slight manual push is sufficient to put it in its place.
- Finally, you put everything back in its place – and it’s done.
- The dazzling sight of a repaired BMW front is accompanied by the satisfaction of having done everything right.
Foto: jbd30, Sornn, Keikona, Mila Larson / shutterstock.com