Very general auto repair question

I recently got into a bit of a fender-bender.

The grille and the bumper took the brunt of it; the plastic grille is completely smashed, as well as my metal fender.

The bumper (which is plastic and is below the fender?) remained unscathed.

So, today online I found prices for these two parts, (the grille and the fender) and I want to order them and attempt to install the new parts myself.

Note that I do not have a lot of knowledge when it comes to auto repair, but I’m wondering if this is something I can handle on a long afternoon.
Also, I’d like to know if there’s any specifics I should have beforehand also to make sure I’m well-prepared (like special tools or screws).

In case it matters, the vehicle in question is a '96 Chevy S-10 Pickup. Thanks ahead of time for any advice.

Just asked someone in the biz. He says that as long as you have average mechanical ability and basic handtools, you should be OK. He also says you won’t have enough clamps in your toolbox and you should ask a friend to help.

How about finish? Are the replacement parts painted? If so do they match your truck? Putting the finish on probably requires a lot more equipment and skill than installing the parts.


Installing a grille and a fender should be a simple bolt-on operation. There are a few potential problems though. One of them, as CookingWithGas mentioned, is paint. You might actually be better off looking for a used fender at a salvage yard, because you could find one already painted the correct color and save yourself a lot of money.

Also, when you remove the fender and grille, check carefully for damage to the unibody. If anything structural is bent, your new fender likely will not line up properly. For a few hundred bucks, a body shop will pull any minor damage to the body structure so the new parts will fit properly. Good luck.

-Andrew L

Also from the auto parts store get the manual for your car & see if it has any instructions on assembly. Usually I do one side of the car at a time & then can refer to the other side of the car for where the parts went.

If you are buying an after market fender from an outfit named Certifit, eyeball the general alignment of the bolt holes, etc, before actually purchasing. Maybe even bring the old fender with you. Certifit is commonly called “Sorta-fit” in some circles. A fender I purchased had the bold holes just about 1/4 of an inch off. I would have preferred an inch, since drilling new holes is no biggie. Drilling new holes into old holes kinda sucks. But I have purchased many parts there that were fine. And they come fully primed too, which is another plus.

There are plenty places on-line that you can find used parts at. I agree with njufoic. You would be much better off finfing a fender already the same color. Since it’s an original part, it also would take into account sun fade.

If you’ve never done any bodywork, you might want to get it professionaly done. Are the parts you’re ordering factory original parts, or aftermarket? If they are aftermarket, are you willing to have the parts not fit perfectly? Even experienced autobody technicians may have trouble getting aftermarket parts to fit like oem parts.

Looking at the prices for your car, oem parts will probably cost around $520.00, to install and paint the fender with blending the door, about another $500. This is just for replacing those parts, there may be additional damage behind the fender and grille, so it could go higher. Try asking a shop to take a look at it, get an estimate at least. If you buy these parts over the internet, you may not be able to fix the additional damage, and some shops wont install parts that they dont buy themselves.

You can have the fender painted before you install it - a clean new fender off the car that just needs to be sprayed should cost less than $100 - for the paint that is.

However, if you are not careful about the install, you might mess up the new paint when doing the install.

Even if the frame is not bent some of the other assembly (like the radiator support) may be twisted. Good luck.

I worked for a summer in my dad’s auto body shop. I was a high school kid with pretty decent mechanical skills, and I could take this stuff off and put it back on again. I could not do a paint finish on anything that showed (hinges, maybe) and I could always ask the guys for advice when I got stuck. You won’t have that luxury.

What I would suggest is getting under there and looking around for every bolt that you can find that might be holding the items on. Make sure you have a tool that can take it off and put it back on again, don’t just get started, then find out you need an 18" torx head screwdriver for that one last screw.

Also, finish could be a big problem. It’s damn hard to get a good looking finish without the right tools. B&I has the right idea, get it professionally finished, and just be vewwwy careful about putting it back on.

Give yourself a whole day to do it, maybe start on Saturday, just in case.