The aftermarket “Raptor” style grille with retro look FORD lettering across it is a popular customization available for a lot of Ford pickup trucks complete with the trademark three amber LED lights across the top and wide horizontal inlets at the bottom.
This product is available from various outlets like Ebay, Amazon and others. It’s unbranded and really kind of on the down low as it’s not an official Ford licensed product. This means that because it’s not sanctioned by Ford, you often won’t find the word “Raptor” or “Ford” in its product description. You will see photos with the FORD letters fuzzed out and it’s simply described as coming with “letters” and oh by the way it happens to “fit” the Ford Maverick.
They do come in a variety of configurations, mostly direct from China. Some have the letters, do not, others with wide LED light bars at the bottom, or both. They retail in the low to mid $200 range and can be ordered from online outlets who ship from U.S. warehouses which gets shipping times faster. I ordered mine direct from a Chinese distributor for less than $200 but had to wait about 6 weeks for delivery.
So the price is right, the look is well done but lets get started with an unbox and install because the truth is that this product takes a lot of work and time to put on. And there are a few important things you need to know about before you tear your truck apart. First, it comes with no instructions whatsoever. And that’s what I aim to provide here.
I recommend budgeting at least a full day for this project, perhaps even a weekend as the entire front grille and bumper cover of your truck must be removed, disassembled and then reassembled with the new grille, then the whole assembly reinstalled. If you are an experienced body work professional, I would not plan on less than 4-5 hours especially if you are charging a customer for your time.
While it is a time consuming multi-step process and laborious, it’s something most people can accomplish even with moderate mechanical skill so don’t be too intimidated, just prepared. A list of required tools and recommended supplies is provided at the end of this text.
Coming out of the box, mine was well packaged and the items all arrived safe from damage. The grille itself comes in three pieces, the wings need to be attached – unlike the Ford factory grille which is all one piece. The letters come separate and need to be installed which will require drilling holes in the grille which are thankfully marked with guide holes at the back.
Also included was a small and well done wiring harness for the LED lights which has to be put assembled. There is also collection of screws and washers to secure the wings and letters which in my case not only was incomplete, but I decided to replace all of it with a better selection sizes.
First, there were not enough of the #8 x 3/4” sheet metal screws provided for all of the attachment points. Second, the length of most of the screws was too long to use without potentially coming through the front surface of the lettering and grille. I watched another install video on this product where the person experienced dimples and poke throughs on the face of their letters because of this. Third, the fender washers provided were simply too large to fit in some of the tight spots where they are needed.
I went and purchased 24 – #8 x 5/8” sheet metal screws, shorter so that they can be snugged down tight without worrying about poke through. I also got 24 – 1/2” fender washers which are a better fit but even here were too large to use for two spots. Overall though I highly recommend you toss the original screws and replace them with shorter ones so you don’t damage your product.
I drilled 1/8” inch holes for the lettering screws which allowed a little bit of play for alignment. After cleaning up the holes I started assembly. I snugged them down good but not too tight. You will want to attach the two outboard “wings” before you do the F and the D letters because they actually lay on top of the wing to grille connection. Once all was done I inspected to make sure everything was straight and proper to my liking.
Laying it on its face over a towel to protect the finish I set about assembling the wiring harness by first tightening two the LED lights that were loose and then connecting them up. I’m a stickler for a clean harness install, so I routed it through the grille’s center bar gussets to ultimately string over to the side marker lamp in the lower bumper to splice in.
I chose to route it toward the driver side, but if you’re planning to use a side marker to splice into, you can send it to either side. You can power it however you want, ultimately where you string the wiring harness will depend on how you want to power it.
Once secured pretty and neat with zip ties I set it aside. There will be more assembly work for this structure later after you get your factory grille removed, so keep this work space ready for more.
As stated at the beginning, the entire face of the truck has to come off for this install, there is no just taking the grille off and replacing it, so park it in a comfortable work area and open the hood. To start, remove the five 7mm hex screws at the top of grille assembly then the four 10mm hex screws set back at the top of the grille support bracket.
Following that, you will want to remove the two pop clips at either side of the radiator support, preferably with a body clip removal tool, cheap and easy to get and any auto parts store. You can use a screw driver, but the tool is safer for your clips. Pulling the center pin first then allows the entire clip to come out easily and undamaged and thus reusable.
I then removed the lower bumper fascia bolts which include eight T-30 Torx bit bolts which need to be removed to free it from the truck. Four are in the bumper itself and four are set back in the lower splash shield. They all need to come out.
The plastic wheel spats at either side are next and each have three 7mm hex screws at the rear that must be removed along with four at the bottom front. Once the screws are removed there is a single plastic pop-clip in the wheel well that attaches it to the felt liner, which also must be removed.
Next you need to use that body clip removal tool to take out at least six of the body pop clips on each side of the felt front fender well liner which allows enough of it to be pulled aside to work your hands up behind the bumper. This is where using the body clip removal tool makes it a breeze, just watch the painted surfaces.
Once all these are out and you are free to pull back the felt wheel well liner. I found it very helpful to turn the front wheels to allow unhindered arm access up into this area in which to work.
On the passenger side is a single electrical connector for the bumper wiring harness that powers your marker lights and/or other components you might have like sensors. You can disconnect it while the assembly is still hanging on your truck or after you pull it loose, which is what I did because it was too hard to see and work with for me while it was still in place.
Moving forward, your goal is to remove the three 10mm hex bolts on each side that attach the bumper assembly to the fenders. Luckily, it’s not as evil as it looks. I don’t have a cordless power right-angle ratchet wrench but it would make this task much easier. I instead was plenty successful using a small socket, ratchet and driver attachment get these out in pretty short order without cut up hands. In spite of how it looks, there is plenty of room to work in here.
The last item to detach are the plastic alignment clips on each side which hold the bumper in place. They have two small tabs which you can carefully press in either with a screw driver or squeeze with pliers – even your fingers to release. Just be careful not to push them in too hard with a screw driver as they can break.
Once all of this is loose you can begin gently pulling the top tabs of the grille support bracket away. There are two tabs holding it into place that a screw driver can help with. Once these are both free you can begin working the entire assembly loose.
The key areas of care are the grille wings which are attached to the headlights with small clips. They will pop loose with a bit of gentle hand work. While it’s tempting to pry them loose with a screw driver, don’t. You can scratch or crack your lenses. Just take your time and hand work it. I found success lifting up under the ends of the grille close to the wings. It will come loose.
Once it breaks free the entire assembly comes off and is surprisingly light. This is now when I took the occasion to disconnect the wiring harness now that I could see how its clip mechanism worked. A small screw driver used to put pressure on its lock tab allows it to come loose easily.
Now it’s time to take the whole thing to your work table with a towel or blanket over it to protect your paint because now you need to disassemble it. The grille is attached to the bumper cover with a number of one-way tabs that will need to be worked loose.
First however you need to remove a lower back panel that blocks the grille from coming apart from the bumper cover which has four 7mm hex screws. Once the screws are out, just pull the panel loose from its alignment tabs and flip it over carefully out of the way.
Separating the grille from the bumper cover takes some time and patience. The bumper cover tabs are a soft flexible plastic which can be gently pried away from their catch in the grille with a screw driver inserted between the mating surfaces. Just take care not to push the screw driver more than 1/4” to 1/2” into it as you can scratch the visible surface on the outside of the bumper cover if you go to far.
Taking time by releasing each tab from one side to the other gently work the grille away from the bumper cover. It does eventually come loose.
Once you have the grille and bumper cover separated, you want to remove the plastic grille support bracket from your old grille to reuse it with your new grille. This requires the removal of eleven, yes eleven 7mm hex screws.
Now it’s time to begin the reassembly process.
Side note: Before I embarked on this I did test the LED lights of the new grille at the 12V power post under the hood to make sure they worked before bolting anything together again. I would not want to discover it didn’t work after all the work of installing it.
Placing your new grille on a nice soft work surface you can go about installing the grille support panel at the back of it. Now you can see how my wiring harness routing makes some good sense as this panel hides and secures it neatly behind it. In setting it together, I made sire the harness was not pinched in any way and went about carefully tightening down its eleven 7mm hex screws. A lot of work for such a small piece I think.
Next up is carefully snapping it together with the bumper cover which surprisingly was pretty straight forward. After making sure it was well seated and properly aligned next was routing the wiring harness through lower bumper back panel so it can align with the factory harness and then reattach the panel to its clips and then its four 7mm hex screws.
The last assembly process is splicing the LED wiring harness into the existing side marker light circuit. As I stated earlier it does not matter which side you to to, but I chose the driver side as it was a simpler place to work without the main connector in the way such as on the passenger side.
I used splice connectors to connect the red positive LED harness wire to the factory harness green wire with the orange stripe. The black ground wire of the LED harness was connected into the black wire on the harness. I used quick clamp style splice connectors, but you can use whatever style you like working with best.
After that the final job is securing and making pretty the installation of the wiring harness in parallel alignment to the factory one with zip ties. Oh I just love a neat wiring harness. Whether it’s perfect or not, it will certainly not be seen hanging behind the grille from the front of the truck – completely hidden.
Now the re-installation of the entire assembly begins. For the most part, it’s all about repeating every step of disassembly in exact reverse. The first thing I did however was carefully hang it in place at the top with the two alignment tabs and then plug it in and test it before I installed a single screw or clip. This was a good thing as the first time it didn’t light up. I had to re do one of my splices – glad I found that boo-boo first before I spent an hour bolting it all back up. You would be wise to take this 30-second test as well.
The rest of the job went as the disassembly, first starting with the bumper to fender connections to assure good panel alignment, then I followed with everything else from the top to the bottom. For me the job took about 8 hours including the initial assembly of the new grille.
I do note however that these projects also take much longer when I am stopping to set up cameras and lights for all of the various shots you have watched. It can take as much time often as the work itself. It would have been more like that 4-5 hours I spoke of earlier if I had just been doing it only.
The final product is one that I am happy with. I love the look, not so much because it’s about being a Raptor wanna be, but because I like the retro style of the FORD lettering and it looks more rugged to go with some additional makeover modifications that are coming next.
The quality of the product is ok. The fit and alignment of the product was perfect but the plastic material doesn’t seem as high in quality to that of the factory grille, perhaps a bit more fragile. I was disappointed that the company provided incomplete and inadequate hardware – honestly hardware you should not even be using because it can damage your grille.
Lastly I am also disappointed that as complex a product and installation that this is, there were no instructions. But alas the price tag matches the experience. If this were a Ford sanctioned accessory from their catalog or an approved dealer it would likely be $750 or more.
Additional hardware recommended:
24 – #8 x 5/8” sheet metal screw
24 – 1/2” fender washer
6-10 zip ties
electrical splice connectors
Automotive body clip removal tool
Flat tip screw driver
Cross tip screw driver
7 mm socket
10 mm socket
T-30 Torx socket
Drill with 1/8” drill bit
Wire cutting and splicing tools