Whatsamatta for you? Bust yer grille? Wipe away those tears & head on down to the local metal recycling yard and you can replace your grille for next to nothing! If you're on good terms with the local recycling yard you might get the supplies to make one for free if ya take a pile of old scrap metal to 'give' them for trade...
When my plastic grille went to meet "The big tree limb in the sky", I tried to replace it with another from the boneyard but a quick check confirmed that every wrecked XJ for a zillion miles had a busted or missing grille. (Plus they actually wanted me to pay for it. Imagine that.) Cheapa$$ me decided to come up with something else and the result was a one of a kind (so far...), CHEAP (under $1.00!) replacement grille that helps keep out bigger branches that would demolish the OEM grille!
A quick trip to a local metals recycling yard netted a piece of scrap aluminum expanded grating. This single piece didn't even weigh enough for their minimum charge so the guy gave it to me for free! Can't beat that price!
I used the old grille as a template but added about 1/4" to the measurements and traced this outline onto the aluminum mesh. Be sure to cut level and center up the expanded metal so it won't be 'lopsided' or have an 'off-center' grid when mounted. The extra 1/4" was to let the expanded metal slip into a slotted area that surrounds the oem grille opening. I recommend you make up a cardboard 'template' to check to make sure what size will work for you. Once ya take a peek at your XJ's grille surround you'll see where this extra material will fit to help hold the grille in place.
Take your time when cutting and use metal shears or a cut-off wheel which will cut the aluminum easily with modest effort. The hardest part is accurately measuring and marking the metal for your cut . Once cut, trial fit the metal and do any touch-up trimming that you need to do. I added a slight bend following the factory grille lines and then installed it with a few zip ties to hold it in place. You can get fancy with some fender washers & screw the new grille into the oem screw locations but this takes more planning. Zip-ties are quick and easily removed/replaced and the black ones are practically invisible against the radiator.
Boom. Done. Cheap.
If you have pics of your own repairs or can suggest other methods - please contribute your ideas (and pictures) to this article!
November 01, 2006