What is this thing on my front bumper (and my sister's Prius)?

Here is a pic. It’s a 2016 Mazda 3. It looks like a tiny door, except as far as I can tell it doesn’t open. Or maybe it’s something to be punched out and replaced with … what? Here’s another pic of a different model year which has the thing on the other side of the front grille. My sister just had her 2006 Prius’s front bumper replaced after a collision, and the replacement has a similar thing. She didn’t notice whether it existed on the original bumper.

There is not a corresponding hole on the other side of the bumper, so it’s not as if it’s filling in a space where fog lights or some other optional equipment might go.

Your links didn’t work for me.

According to a site I googled, the cutout on a Prius is where the bullets come out if you have the machine gun installed.


Ok, according to a more serious post I googled, it’s for towing. You pop out the panel and insert an eyelet screw, and a tow truck can safely attach a winch to that and tow the car from there.

Can’t see the photos on the link. They could also be blanks for the installation of an RV towing package (I had them on my Saturn Vue and used them).

Is this pic visible now?

Can you post a pic that doesn’t require logging in to a Google account?

pics still not visible

The ones from the OP or the ones from Post 4?

According to their glurge, an account supposedly isn’t necessary. Try the lonk in post 4 – does that work for you?

Are you talking about the two rectangular things in this picture?


Interestingly, my Honda Insight hybrid has something similar but only on one side. Is the Mazda 3 a hybrid?

Nope. Still wants a log in.

I already tried it. It wants me to log into a Google account. My guess is that it would have to be your account.

neither works for me.

Is this the port/plug you are trying to show?

mazda 3

This is an aftermarket tow hook screwed into the bumper. The threads are behind (usually) a plastic body colored cap.

Has nothing to do with the prius being a hybrid. The plugs are used to attach a tow hook. Supposedly also how the car is tied down during transport on ships, but I’ve seen some disagreement with that.

Found a Ford photo here: http://g04.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1.9r5IpXXXXbRXFXXq6xXFXXXS/Front-bumper-tow-eye-cover-cap-Towing-Hook-cover-for-fordfocus-2-for-focus-3-for.jpg

That webpage calls the little door things Towing Cover Caps.

That’s pretty damn close, though a different location.

my RAV4 has similar things on the bumper

I’ll bet if you ever have to pop those little caps off they’ll take $600 each to replace.

We use the towing hook to anchor the front tie down straps when carrying a canoe or kayak on top of the car. Yup, the little plastic cap comes off, and you screw in the hook that is included in the car’s toolkit (basically your tire-changing tools plus the hook).

(By the way, the hook has a left-hand thread in an oddball size. I presume this is so you have to use the real hook, and not just some old bolt, which could break and give you an excuse to sue the company.)

(Also by the way, the tow hook is actually a ring, but it’s called a hook. Go figure.)

Like everyone else, I can’t see the pics, but I assume it’s the cover for where the tow hook goes like people are saying.

Also, as I discovered after moving from a no-front-plate state to a front-plate state, for people who don’t want to drill into their front bumpers, various companies make plate mounts that can connect there.

That’s called an eye bolt in the trades. If it has a screw end for wood, it’s usually called screw hook (for an open hook) or screw-eye (for a closed hook).

I’ve avoided looking at the pictures, but I’ve been told this is for transport (not necessarily towing). When the cars are put on the ship (or train, or car transport) the little cappy things are not on there. The cars are strapped down at this point. When the get to where they are going they are unstrapped and the little cappy things are put on. I’ve heard that the caps are stored in a bag with the rest of the paperwork that the dealer gets with the car.

I have no cite for this, so I’m talking “unencumbered by the thought process”