Bumper access panel?

As a valet driver I notice some details about the cars I park.

On some cars I notice a slittle access panel, about 2 inces on a side, on the passenger-side front bumper.

I noticed this on the following models:

Subaru Impreza
Lexus ES 330
BMW 530I
Mercedes Benz E550
New Beetle

If there was a matching panel on the other side of the bumper, Like that on the Lexus RX300 SUV, I would see it as some kind of tie-down attachment point for shipping imports, but why just one panel for the models I have posted?

Jacking point most likely .

It is the cover for the tow hook. Remove the cover, screw in the tow hook (found in your trunk tool kit )and get towed somewhere. Usually onto the back of a flat bed truck.

There should be one on the back bumper also.

Here - the small panel to the left of the tag is the tow hook cover. The other panel under the headlight is for the pop-up washers. This is a BMW 335i coupe.

http://www.e90post.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=27119&stc=1&d=1149194655

When they bring the cars over on the ship they are tied down in opposite corners by chains. In the tool kit there is a eyebolt for the tow truck driver to use. Of course the two truck drivers always think that this point is not strong enough so they use the rear suspension and bend the shit out of it. :rolleyes: So that tie down point is strong enough for transport across the North Atlantic but it isn’t strong enough for your flatbed across town?

I’ve always thought that the ‘loop’ on my car (photo) was a tow point. Only I couldn’t see how it could be used without damaging the front valance. I’ve recently been told that that is a tie-down point for shipping.

Once the piece has been removed, can it be replaced? I haven’t paid much attention to them, other than to note that they’re there. Some of them look as if they’re part of the bumber and are meant to be broken out. The ones in MrFloppy’s link look as if they’re designed to be removed, but they also look pretty tight. What is the likelihood of breaking off the tabs? Would these parts be available from the dealer?

Yes it can be replaced. The car is typically shipped with the cover missing, a tie down hook screwed into the car there. At the pre delivery inspection, the guy prepping the car will install the cover (many times shipped in the glove box) If for some reason the cover is lost, you buy another one from the parts department. Sometimes they come pre-painted, sometimes they have to be painted. It all depends on the make of the car.