The header panel is the sheet metal that accommodates the headlights and the grille in the vehicle's front. Since it is among the vehicle's front-most components, this panel also becomes susceptible to all sorts of damage. It can get scratched and dented when hit by road debris, and worse, it can be severely damaged during frontal collisions.
When the inevitable happens and this panel in front of your ride necessitates replacement, make sure to choose one that's specifically made for your vehicle make and model. Getting an incompatible panel can result in complicated installation. Worse, it may not be able to hold the headlights and the grille properly.
If you're sure that you have the right header panel replacement and you're planning to install it all by yourself, here are the steps on how to do the installation properly:
What you'll need:
- Owner's manual
- New header panel
- Philips screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver
- Wrench and socket set
- Personal protective equipment
Step 1: Prepare the vehicle.
Park the vehicle in a solid, level ground and engage the parking brake. Since you have to deal with your headlights and their wirings, it's wise to disconnect the battery's negative terminal cable first before starting off with your DIY task.
Step 2: Remove the grille.
With the hood propped up, locate the screws that secure the grille to the header panel. Use your Phillips screwdriver to loosen and remove all the screws. Put the screws in a small container so as not to lose them and set them aside. Take the grille off the vehicle's front.
Step 3: Take out the headlights.
With your flathead screwdriver, disengage or remove the plastic clips that hold the headlamp housing to its mounting bracket. Once released, carefully pull the headlamp assembly from the bracket. If there are retaining screws, you can remove them using Phillips screwdriver.
At the back of each headlamp is a set of electrical plugs that you need to disconnect from the headlamps so you can remove them completely. Be careful when pulling off these plugs.
Step 4: Remove the old panel.
Using a socket wrench, loosen and remove the bolts that keep the header panel assembly in place. Take the panel off the vehicle.
Step 5: Install the new panel.
Put the new header panel in place and secure it using the retaining bolts. Your replacement panel may include replacement to these bolts; in case it doesn't, you can reuse the old bolts as long as they aren't rusted and the threads are still intact.
Step 6: Put the headlight assembly and the grille back.
Reinstall both headlights and secure them in place before dealing with the grille. Once the components are successfully reinstalled, close the vehicle's hood.
Check your owner's manual for instructions that are specific to your make and model. In some vehicles, you may need to deviate from these general instructions. Besides the headlights and the grille, you may also need to remove the parking light assemblies, bumper, battery, and windshield wash container.