BMW E46 Kidney Grill Clip Replacement

by murat, published

BMW E46 Kidney Grill Clip Replacement by murat Jun 30, 2013
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6624Views 834Downloads Found in Automotive


Mounting clip replacement for the BMW E46 kidney grill.

The kidney grills are held in place in the bonnet through flexible lips, which become brittle with time and heat exposure. My car is 14 years old and the kidney grills had lost their grips a while ago and were about to fall over. The quick fix was to string them up from the inside, but hardly an elegant fix for a BMW!


There are 6 lips to secure each kidney grill in the E46 models, but due to the difficulty in making the replacement clips flexible enough, it is very diffucult to replace all 6, as they wouldn flex enough to push in.

There are two different thicknesses for the replacement clips; you will need to print the following:

For each kdney grill:

  • 1x 2mm clip
  • 3x 2.5mm clip


  1. Trim off all broken mounting lips down to 1mm above their base, leaving the 3 cavities under intact. The replacement clips have three prongs that fit inside these cavities. One of the sites require the thinner 2mm clip, all others take the 2.5mm clip. Do NOT glue them in place!
  2. Only populate the top and bottom sites, don’t worry about the sides.
  3. Position the top kidney grill in place at an angle with the top clips in place below the square bent metal lip from the bonnet.
  4. Push slowly the kidney grill in place by making sure that the clips don’t fall off. Aid them in place with a fine screwdriver. You may have to flex the whole structure to push it in place.
  5. Make sure that each metal lip sits on the flat edge of the wedge of their respective clip.

If you print with PLA, the clips may come loose under heat. I printed in PLA and will be checking them often.

Enjoy saving few hundred dollars of replacement kidney grills!

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Oct 9, 2016 - Modified Oct 9, 2016

Just what I needed!
Like some other commenters, I had to trim and file a bit to get these to fit into the "socket" structure of the grill. Once that's done they are an excellent solution - thanks! I particularly like the small notch that mates with the metal tab of the hood. Nice detail.
There are probably numerous molds for the grills, so that (in addition to printer characteristics) might explain some of the variations people have experienced in fitting. In my case, for a good fit the middle tooth needed to be filed a bit narrower, the gaps between teeth needed to be a bit wider, and the teeth needed to be shortened by about 1/10th inch.


I uploaded the STEP files in case you'd like to modify them. I didn't bother too much in making them exact as over time they loosen up due to heat, especially if printed out of PLA, and they vary from location to location, so I left them a bit oversize instead of ending up too small...


Trimmed to fit. Nice grille fix.

Does anyone have the whole kidney STL model?
I would like to print the whole kidney ;)

A side industry of printed replacement parts seems to be brewing. Soon, we shall print all our replacement parts, I wish! :)

Is it fit to E46 after face lifting?

I wouldn't know. Have you tried?

As you see here http://www.thingiverse.com/make:238581 it fits ;)

BMW E46 Kidney Grill Clip Replacement
by mentos
Feb 15, 2016 - Modified Feb 15, 2016

Ok, they need a lot of trimming because the size and shape does not fit perfectly but after a bit of trimming it des the job well!
Thanks ;)

Works very perfect. The clip is very fit and tight. Exactly what i needed. Mine has E46 1999 and has same problem.

Works like a charm, thanks !

You're welcome, enjoy!

WORKED! THANK YOU! I printed in ABS using a rather upscale 3D printer. I had to trim down the "toes" to get them far enough into the housing to allow the grille to pop back into the car, but since this fix was basically free, I'm overjoyed.

I love you if this works....