“The best mods in life are free” – Benjamin Franklin
Okay, maybe he really didn’t say that…but had he been alive today, and drove a B7 Audi A4, he totally would have.
While you could buy a grille for the tune of $2-300 from Audi or an aftermarket vendor, you can create your own Black-out grille re-using your stock chrome one for just the cost of a can of spray paint, making it possibly one of the cheapest mods you will ever do. It also drastically alters the look of the car, creating a more aggressive & sporty look. I did this to my car within weeks of buying it, and have since done it for several other local Audi owners to help them really transform the look of their cars.
The total cost of materials will run maybe $20 depending on what you have lying around.
- 2 cans of PlastiDip – check out DipYourCar.com for a grille kit
- A thin flat head screw driver
- Tools to remove your front bumper
Step 1 – Remove the Bumper
The only tricky part of performing this mod is removing your bumper. This thread on Audizine provides really great instructions on how to do so, although I do intend to eventually create my own guide here too. The trick to removing your bumper is having the right tools – invest in a wobble socket adapter & a 10 mm deep socket and things will go so much quicker and easier.
Step 2 – Remove the Grille from the Bumper
Once you have your bumper off, you can remove the grille from the bumper by removing the screws behind the grille. There are a total of 11 screws – 4 along each side, and 3 along the bottom – I have highlighted them with red dots in the picture below. You’ll need torx bits to remove them. Once all of the screws are out, the grille will simply fall off.
Now to the fun part – removing the grille surround and painting it. Here’s the step by step:
Step 3 – Remove the grille surround.
Start by prying out the bottom or sides – leave the top for last. There are an excessive amount of tabs you need to pop out – take your time doing this and be very patient as you do not want to break very many of these tabs otherwise you may not be able to reinstall the trim surround properly again.
Use a very thin flat head screw driver to press in the tabs, and begin prying off a side. You will see there are two sets of tabs you need to press in, one along the outer edge, and one along the inner edge.
Eventually, you will have an entire side pulled off, like this:
Lastly, remove the top edge. This is probably the hardest part, but will be easier once the rest of the grille is loose. Be patient and make sure you press in every tab…once you’re done, the outer chrome surround should just fall off. Here is a picture of the inside of the grille so you can see what the tabs look like, and visualize how you’ll need to angle your screwdriver to disconnect the tabs:
Step 4 – Paint the Surround
Once your grille is off, go ahead and paint it. I’d recommend sanding the entire thing using fine sand paper to remove any chips & imperfections, then hitting it was some very fine sand paper to make sure it is ultra smooth. Once sanded, spray with your paint of choice. I used Krylon Fusion which is made specifically for plastics, and this seems to have held up well. Other people commonly use Plasti-Dip, a plastic like material that sprays on like paint, which also works well. Plasti-Dip is a little harder to work with, but it does leave a really nice and OEM looking textured finish which is really nice. You may also choose to paint the filler plate and/or chrome Audi rings to match, depending on the look you’re going for. The chrome Audi rings just pop out from behind the grille once you press in the tabs, much like the outer surround did.
While the surround is drying, you can reinstall your grille back into the bumper, and reinstall your bumper. You may want to give the surround a few days to drive to ensure it is fully chip-resistant, and luckily you don’t need to remove your bumper to reinstall the surround.
Step 5 – Paint the Filler Plate
The filler plate is the middle section of the grille, which may or may not have a license plate holder depending on where you live and how your car came equipped. This section is easily removed, and the grille & bumper can even on the stay car! There are simply four T25 bolts holding it along the bottom of the filler plate – remove these and the middle filler plate section will come right off.
To paint it, follow the same steps as the surround – prep it and then use your paint color & type of choice. Pictured below is Krylon Fusion in Matte Black – it was still drying when I took this picture, so it looks a little more glossy than it will once its fully dry.
Step 6 – Reinstall the grille surround piece & filler plate
Once the outer surround is fully dry, it will just snap back into place on your car or off, resulting in a finished product like this:
While you’re at it, you can also remove the rings and paint those black if you’d like, or any color you want really.
Once you’ve painted everything you want to, you’re all done. Install it, stand back and admire your hard work! Here is my car below after painting the outer surround as well as the filler plate – I chose to leave the chrome ring as-is so that they’d really pop against the otherwise all black grille.