So D-Day had arrived! Time to swap over the front bumper, and driverâ€™s wing. I was worried not only about getting the old parts off, but also about what horrors I may have found underneath.
I have got myself a little lock-up garage on a housing estate â€“ itâ€™s not ideal but beats working on the street or having to borrow my girlfriendsâ€™ parentsâ€™ drive. I would have liked some pictures, but I forgot the big camera and it was too dark for my phone camera - sorry!
I set to work on trying to remove the old bumper. I had come prepared with a 24â€ Â½â€ drive breaker bar. To my surprise, three of the bolts came out easily! The bumper then dropped off â€“ because the bracket had broken, it was only held on by three of the bolts.
I had a lot of fun and games with the last bolt. The bracket had rusted away to almost nothing, so I was left with a bolt turning freely with the captive nut and remains of the bracket inside the chassis leg. Because it was the furthest bolt from the front, it was a little awkward to get to.
I tried to get a spanner/socket over the nut, but it had worn pretty badly, and I could only get a 16mm socket part way over it. With the torque needed to release the bolt, the socket just slipped off the nut every time. I also tried to get some mole grips around the nut, but they were too big to work with in the chassis leg.
I posted my experiences here: http://www.golfgtiforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=162590.0
I decided to get the bolt extractors, and had another go the next day. The extractor gripped straight away and I had the bolt out, intact, in 5 minutes!
I stripped the old bumper down and fixed the fog lights into the new one. The front splitter was awkward to remove â€“ I donâ€™t think the clips are designed to be taken out again, so I pretty much destroyed the old bumper trying to get the splitter off.
It also had to be worked into the new bumper. A tip here is to line it all up first, and then only push the clips in once all the holes are aligned. The biggest problems were the clips on the corners, but once theyâ€™re lined up, the others usually follow.
Next, I had to take the old wing off. This is actually a lot more straight-forward than I had anticipated. I jacked the car up first and removed the front wheel to give myself some room. Next I removed the arch trim by drilling out the (remaining) rivets. Then the arch liner comes out â€“ this is held on with several 8mm bolts, both on the arch and the inner wing.
Now I could tackle the wing itself. First, I undid all the bolts along the top, and then a bolt next to the bumper support, and one at the front. This leaves you with three bolts on the A-pillar side. The bolts were covered in thick underseal, so I used the new wings for reference to find out where the bolts were. I used a flat screwdriver to carefully peel back the underseal from around the bolts until I could get a socket over them. Two bolts bolt into the bulkhead, and another is at the bottom. Once all the bolts are out I pulled at the wing (the old wing was scrap). The underseal broke at the edge of the wing, and I just peeled it off the car.
The old wing was completely shot. It looks like a pattern part (no VW stamps), though whoever had replaced it had done a good job with the underseal (just a shame they didnâ€™t use a quality part!). The arch had almost disintegrated.
The inner wing looks very healthy, with no obvious signs of rust.
Refitting was the reverse of removal! There is some adjustment in the positioning in the wing, so I carefully made sure that everything lined up perfectly and the panel gaps were correct. I had to push the wing inwards while bolting it up to keep it straight, but it is spot on now. Also I had to make sure that the roof drain hole was threaded through the new wing properly (I forgot this at first and had to unbolt and start again).
Next I replaced the wheel arch. I had never used a rivet gun before, so it took me a while to work it out, but I got there in the end! I gave the join between the wing and inner wing a coat or two of Waxoyl (though I may revisit this to give it something more substatial). Finally, I replaced the arch lining. I checked the panel gaps once more, and everything looks good!
Next, it was time to refit the bumper. This is one job I did not enjoy. I really struggled to get the bumper bracket holes lined up properly. A couple of times I thought I had it, then realised I didnâ€™t.
I sprayed the brackets and inside the chassis leg with Waxoyl before I started,
Got there in the end though. The best way to do it is to slide the bumper brackets into the chassis legs. Next, go to each side, and manoeuvre the bumper so that it slides onto the wing brackets. On my first attempt I tried to fasten the front bolts first â€“ this only ends in pain. Go for the back ones â€“ if you do the front ones first, the bracket will bend slightly and the bumper will pivot on the bolt meaning youâ€™ll never find the back hole. Feel around for the hole in the bracket with the bolt, and once you find it, start to tighten it. Ideally, you want all four bolts in before you tighten them, but donâ€™t be scared of giving each bolt a few turns with a socket to make sure itâ€™s in properly. You donâ€™t want to have just got the last bolt in, for the first one to fall out again! If at any point you suspect the wing bracket has slipped out, stop, and start that side again â€“ youâ€™ll never get the wing support in properly after the bolts are in.
Finally, tighten up all the bolts, real tight. I used the same breaker bar to tighten Â¼ turn more once I had tightened as much as I could with the ratchet.