Mondeo Mk3 Dropped Bumper February 10th, 2010
A common problem with mk3 Mondeo’s appears to be the tendency for the front bumper to drop. Now if you are like me and this has happened to you, no doubt you’ll find this incredibly annoying. It’s the visual perception more than anything, call me a perfectionist if you like (believe me, I have been called some worse things!) but this was something I just had to rectify as seeing the car on the driveway each morning with dodgy panel gaps was starting to drive me crazy.
After doing some research and speaking to some members of the Mondeo Enthusiasts Group, I decided that the problem was the 2 bumper mounting brackets mounted either side of the bumper which mount onto the wings. The explanation of how the bumper mounts to the front of the car is relatively simple. Mounted inside the wing is a machined lip which mates above the lip formed on the top of the bumper when they are offered together, then from beneath a bracket is bolted through the bumper and wing into catchment nuts mounted above the lip of the wing. This forms the basis of the whole bumper fitment, aided by some clips which when aligned correctly fit into other subsections of the front of the car. Also worth mentioning is the front under tray, this also attaches to the bumper on the underside of the car which whilst technically not part of the bumper mounting assembly, adds rigidity to the bumper by giving it a semi-permanent fixture on the underside preventing it from flexing at speed; we’ve all seen Mondeo bumpers bouncing around on the Motorway. Great design Mr Ford, not.
In this guide, I’ll attempt to explain how to replace the bumper mounting brackets with the bumper in situ on the car, as such there is no need to actually take the bumper right off of the car and allows the job to be done carefully by one person. Of course if you have someone to help all the better, being as it was snowing at the time I was not able to persuade anyone to help me and I had to face the cold alone. Unfortunately that does mean I didn’t take as many photos as I would normally have done so you’ll have to visualise some of the steps.
Of course you’ll need some basic tools. I forgot to take note of what I was actually using (blame that on the cold, again) but from memory I used a small selection of screwdrivers and a small socket set; other than that no special tools are required. One final thing that I used was an appropriately sized block of wood which I carefully slid underneath the corner of the bumper I was working on to stop it dropping and causing unnecessary strain on the other bumper fixings whilst changing the brackets over.
The Ford FINIS part numbers are 1211404 and 1211403 respectively (based on a May 2003 build date, I know that at a later date the part numbers changed so make sure to check) and cost a reasonable £6.23 each including the VAT.
I’d recommend that if you can, you jack the front of the car up and support on axle stands so that you can remove the front wheels which will make the whole job much easier. Unfortunately I couldn’t do this so had to do it with wheels still in place which makes it slightly more awkward.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Open the bonnet and remove the front grill, this is held on by 2 thumb screws. Be careful when pulling it off as it has catchment fittings all along the bottom edge and if you pull it up instead of outward, you are likely to break some of these
- Remove the front headlights, this is simply a case of pulling up the 2 locking pins on each side (Ford for once, has designed something well) and unplugging the wiring connector. if you have Xenon headlights like I have, also carefully pull off the headlamp washer covers as these are easily broken if the bumper moves up or down too much once you have undone the bumper mounting bracket in the following steps
- Remove the wheel lining. To do this you’ll need to remove the selection of screws and pop fixings *Tip: before attempting this job, it’s a good idea to give the car a good wash underneath so that you can see the fixings properly – I didn’t and ended up not seeing one which went on to break when I tried to pull the almost free wheel liner out!*. As well as the screws in the wheel well itself, there are screws underneath the front of the bumper around the wheel splats. Make sure you make a mental note of where the various screws came from, most people have their own methods of doing this, I laid them out on a piece of paper in the boot in the correct orientation of each other so I knew which ones went where when putting things back together, this is important as you’ll have a few different sizes of fixing.
- Using a block of wood (or anything suitably sturdy) support the front corner of the bumper that you are about to work on to ensure that it does not cause further strain on the bumper itself or the other fixings when you release the bumper mounting bracket
- You now need to check what type of fixings the existing bumper mounting bracket is mounted with, I found the easiest way of doing this was use a small compact digital camera and carefully slid it into the space underneath the bracket from the engine bay, make sure you use flash and macro so that the picture is in focus. Have a look at the picture and you should be able to identify the fixings (as some use Torx bolts others use normal bolts, it’s much easier to figure out what tool you need before getting started as it’s very tight in underneath!)
- To remove the bumper mounting bracket, carefully reach in from the wheel well and up underneath with a small socket wrench (you’ll need the small extension bar), you should be able to get both arms and/or hands in to help you align the socket. You will be able to remove the back 2 fixings this way. Whilst undoing the bolts make sure that by looking in from the engine bay, you can see the bolts turning to make sure they are not seized.
- To remove the front fixing, I used the same method but used the socket on the end of the screwdriver tool with extension bar as there simply was not enough room to use a socket wrench in that area.
- You should now be able to manipulate the bumper sufficiently to pull out the existing bumper mounting bracket and offer up the new one (obviously holding them together first to make sure that they are both the same shape and size etc.)
- Ensuring that the bumper is aligned correctly, it’s now simply a case of doing the above but in reverse to refit. You should notice that as the bolts are re-torqued, the panel gap closes and the drop is gone! *Tip: when refitting the bolts, try to tighten each one a bit at a time once they have bite as opposed to simply doing one all the way up, then the other, then the other. That way you are not putting all the downward force of supporting the bumper on any individual bolt or fixing*
Once you have completed the above steps on both sides of the car, you can safely remove the block of wood supporting the bumper and stand back and admire the new panel gaps! I have gone one step further though and added an extra bolt at the front of the bracket which is where the weakness appears to be, to do this simply do the following:
- With the headlights still removed, find a suitable nut and bolt (being an IT Contractor, I used a cage nut and bolt – it’s all I had available) and a corresponding size HSS drill bit.
- Drill down through the wing lip and bracket being careful not to slip and damage anything you shouldn’t, making sure you look underneath first to ensure that no pipes or wires are anywhere near where you are going to drill
- Fit the extra nut and bolt which will give extra strength to the front section of the mounting (this I found to be really fiddly) making sure the bolt is on the underside so that nothing fouls the headlight being refitted
Now refit the headlights and front grill (whilst the headlights were out I also took the opportunity to fit new LED sidelights and a new set of 6k Xenon lamps) and finally, the headlamp washer covers.
Time for a beer!