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FINISHED LOOK

(a full view picture is to be added here soon – a rain storm hit me halfway through the install so I need to take some better AFTER pics)


NOTES

First and foremost, I must give all credit for this mod to GMACJR65 – this is entirely his creation. I am simply doing the write-up after my install. I got some great assistance from GMACJR65 – so a big thank you to him. This is an incredibly easy mod that literally anybody can pull off. It’s also a great courage-building mod for first time DIYers – I will try to be very detailed and add lots of pictures to make it easy. The finished product results in a clean OEM-like, yet custom look – and it looks especially nice when complimenting a mesh upper grill… certainly better than those ugly plastic covers. And let’s not forget to mention that it only takes a couple of hours and a couple of bucks. Give it a shot!


MODELS

· 300C (are the SRT vents the same as the C? or have I heard that they have some kind of ducts for the brakes, which would eliminate or alter this mod for the SRT?)
· all years (anybody know if there are any changes to the vents over the different model years, which could eliminate or alter this mod for some years?)


TOOLS / PARTS

· The tools that you will need will depend on which options you decide to take. Read on…
· 1 flathead screwdriver*
· 1 ratchet*
· 1 socket extension*
· 1 10mm socket*
· 1 7mm socket*
· 1 SQ2 bit (square head)*
· 6 metal speed nuts & bolts, or 6 plastic/nylon rivets*
· 1 cutting blade / box cutter
· 1 hacksaw blade (optional)
· 1 sheet of medium grit sand paper (optional)
· 1 sheet of paper
· 1 marker
· 1 pair of scissors
· 1 matte black paint can (optional)
· 1 clear coat paint can (optional)
· 1 OEM color paint can (optional)
· 1 roll of tape (optional)
· 1 pair of strong metal snips
· 4 feet by 6 inches of house gutter guard mesh
· 4 to 6 gutter clips – comes with mesh**
· 1 tube of glue – i.e. cement, Gorilla, epoxy, etc.**
· 2 small vice grips or clamps**
· 1 drill with 1 small pilot hole drill bit””
· 2 small screws and washers**
· 1 Phillips head screwdriver**
· 1 rotary tool with 1 cutting disc**
· 1 small bottle of OEM touch-up paint**
· 1 afternoon of patience
· 6-pack of your favorite beer (highly recommended) :)
*denotes that tool is used for the front fascia removal and installation
**denotes that tool may be used, depending on center vent install options


TIME / DIFFICULTY LEVEL

· 2-4 hours (depending on experience & painting option)
· easy (standard tool use)
· 3.5 beers (depending on experience) ;)


STEP-BY-STEP

STEP 1 – Preparation… First, purchase a sheet of house gutter guard mesh from Lowe’s or Home Depot. I assume that this can be found at any home improvement store. It is very cheap – Home Depot sells one style of their mesh in 6 inch by 6 foot lengths for about $2. However, you can use any kind of mesh including the more expensive pieces of upper grill mesh. You will need less than 2 feet to do both of the side vents and less than 2 feet to do the center vent. Print these instructions, prepare your tools and work area, turn some music on, and crack open a beer.





STEP 2 – Remove the front fascia... For those that know how to do this, skip to STEP 3. For those that have not removed their front fascia before – have no fear. It is a breeze. Just refer to this How-To thread from Y2K5SRT: http://www.300cforums.com/forums/tech-tips-diy-how/68090-how-remove-grille-installation-fascia-removal.html.

If you’ve never done it, in short, here’s how I do it (there are a couple of corrections from that thread as well)... remove the 2 snap-in covers just behind the fascia on the top by pulling on them / remove the 4 push-pins on top of the fascia using a flathead screwdriver / remove the 3 plastic rivets in the front of each wheel well by yanking them out / remove the 10mm vertical hex bolt at the front of each fender, behind the wheel well on both sides / remove all 10 of the 7mm hex screws on the underside holding the fascia to the belly pan / slide the fascia forward to remove / remove the two horizontal SQ2 (square head) plastic screws holding the foam reinforcement to the middle of the fascia / remove the foam reinforcement. That’s it. Trust me – it’s easier than it sounds.




STEP 3 – Remove the black plastic covers from the side vents... The two side vent covers are individually held on by four plastic tabs that snap through the four holes in the cover. In addition, one of the tabs also has a spring clip which is holding the cover in place. First, pinch and remove the spring clips (use a flathead screwdriver if necessary). Then, apply a little pressure to the tabs so that you can remove the covers by sliding them off of the tabs (use a flathead screwdriver if necessary). There is no cover for the center vent. (You will notice that my covers are already cut in the pictures below – this is because I had already removed them previously, so before taking the fascia off I precut them… more on this in the next step.)




STEP 4 – Cut out the middle of the covers… Using a cutting blade or a box cutter, begin to remove the center of the side vent covers by scoring the plastic on the farthest side of the first groove for the horizontal cuts, and just outside of the grooves on the vertical cuts – so that you leave a strong enough border to provide support once they are reinstalled. Continue cutting until you are through the plastic. To make sure you don’t overcut the corners, cut the middle of the covers in half and then bend them to break them off. Then finish off the corners for a clean look with a hacksaw blade and sandpaper if necessary.





 

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STEP 5 – Create some templates for the side vent mesh… Using a sheet of paper and a marker, trace the outline of a side vent cover, as well as the four attachment holes. Then cut out your paper template with scissors. You only need to make a template for one of the side vent covers, as you can simply just flip the paper over for use on the other side vent.



STEP 6 (OPTIONAL) – Paint anything visible matte black… I guess this is only for picky people like me, but at this point you can paint a few of the things that sit behind the mesh with some matte black paint – although barely anything is visible when you are done anyways. This will get rid of any shininess or reflection behind the grills – allowing them to “pop” a bit more. If you haven’t removed your air silencer yet, it is somewhat visible through the driver’s side vent – but you really have to look hard. On the passenger side vent, the white washer fluid reservoir can be visible. I ended up painted the vent covers, the spring clips, and the washer fluid reservoir. You may also want to paint the fascia tabs for the side vents if you have a light or colored car, as they can be partially visible behind the mesh once you are done.







STEP 7 – Measure and cut out the mesh for the side vents… For the side vents, hold or tape the side vent template against the mesh, trace out the edges and the four attachment holes using a marker. Flip the template over and repeat the trace for the other side. Then simply cut out the template tracings from the mesh using strong metal snips for your side vent grills.





STEP 8 – Measure and cut out the mesh for the center vent… For the center vent, hold a piece of the mesh up to the opening and mark it for some cutting lines with a marker – leaving about an inch of mesh to overhang on all outside edges of the center vent openings. Then simply mod the mesh until you have it just right. I used a work bench to provide a straight line to bend the mesh. Take your time and continue to rework the mesh until you have a tight fit around the center vent openings.






 

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STEP 9 (OPTIONAL) – Paint the mesh… At this point, if you would like to you can also paint the mesh black to match a black upper grill or color-match it to your car. I imagine you could also use chrome paint, although I have never found that to be any good IMO. I am sticking with a “chrome” look to match my chrome upper grill, so I chose to leave the mesh unpainted. However, I did apply about three layers of clear coat to the mesh – both to protect it from the elements a bit, as well as to give it some extra shine since the mesh is not truly chromed. I did find that one side of the gutter mesh was shinier than the other side though, so be sure to stay consistent with which side of the mesh you are using for each vent.



STEP 10 – Install the lower side vent grills… For the side vents, simply slide your newly cut pieces of mesh onto the tabs for each side. Make sure the mesh is pushed down and snug around the tabs. Then slowly reshape and bend the mesh around the contours of the outside edges of the vents. Depending on how snug the mesh is around the side vents, you might be able to get away with just reinstalling the spring clips behind the mesh. But to be sure that you have plenty of support, just snap your vent covers back into place and reinstall the spring clips to support the covers and new mesh grills.





STEP 11 – Install the lower center vent grill… GMACJR65 provided me with some gutter clips that come with the mesh, but I forgot to bring them with me for the install. I know he used these clips, so they do work – they simply hook to the mesh, then you can clip it right to the lip of the center vent. Without the clips, I went another route with what I had to work with. I already had created a very snug fit with the mesh, so I simply tried a few different glues (including cement glue, Gorilla glue, and an epoxy) and some small vice grips to hold the mesh in place while it dried. I wasn’t completely confident still, so I drilled small pilot holes and added a screw with a washer on each side from the top of the vent opening down into the vent. Since the screws were now visible from the front (Not really – you have to lay down almost. Although, for those of you lucky ones that don’t need front plates, the center grill is much more noticeable.), I shaved the screws off with a rotary tool and cutting disc, then painted the remaining screw stubs with some OEM touch-up paint.









STEP 12 – Install the front fascia… Again, if you haven’t done this before, simply refer to Y2K5SRT’s How-To thread: http://www.300cforums.com/forums/tech-tips-diy-how/68090-how-remove-grille-installation-fascia-removal.html.

Or reverse the short steps I mentioned earlier. However, I highly recommend that you replace the one-and-done plastic rivets in the wheel wells with metal speed nuts and bolts – not the Phillips head nylon rivets mentioned in the How-To. Speed nuts and bolts make all future removals of the front fascia much easier and I also feel that it is more secure – especially with the new air flow that will be hitting your wheel wells since your new lower vents are no longer capped off. :)


 

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STEP 13 – All done!!!... Wasn’t that easy? Now sit back with a cold one and admire your hard work.

(Again, it started raining on me during the install, so I will edit this post with better AFTER pictures soon.)








Once again, a big thanks goes out to GMACJR65 for creating such an easy and inexpensive mod that really adds a nice touch to our cars. Good luck to everybody that gives it a try. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

REVIEWERS: Please feel free to post your thoughts/ideas/corrections/tips/additions/etc.





 
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