DIY Car Mods Series — Plasti-Dip Your Chrome or Painted Grille Matte Black

Part Six of a new ‘DIY Car Mods’ series.

Definitely some really trashy stuff included in this series of articles. But what is the best/worst part of modifying your own car? No matter the price of the upgraded parts — you have zero guarantee they will perform as promised, or even fit.

So please take all these with a hefty dose of salt. Ideally, these are just ideas based on what has “stuck” on my car’s cosmetic refresh list over the years. Many, many even trashier upgrades have been installed and later removed from deep shaming by car-guy pals.

And always remember, no matter how crappy your DIY effort, there is always a worse one out there… somewhere!



Must-Have DIY Mod Criteria:

— Under $60 per upgrade. Total.

— Installed in a few hours or less by anyone. Little expertise needed.

— (Mostly) Able to be uninstalled in just 5 minutes as needed when the style is dated or you … ahem… grow out of some of these boy-racer styling enhancements.

Plasti-Dip Your Grille?

— Why? A black grille is by far the easiest way to add some unique menace to literally any car. It just looks cool and can totally alter the entire nose appearance for the better.

— Cost: $8 for a can of black Plasti-Dip. Why not just spray-paint? Plasti-Dip is more stone-chip-resistant and is also a matte effect when dried.

Acura TL Example

CAVEAT! Do not do this while grille is mounted on car, even if you have taped off the painted areas and even if you have tarped entire car. why? Plasti-Dip drips and dries poorly on vertical surfaces.

CAVEAT TWO! While, in theory, Plasti-Dip can be peeled off: it cannot be done easily by anyone. And is virtually impossible on the intricate surfaces of the grille’s honeycomb, etc.

CAVEAT THREE — Make sure you switch angles of spray and or move the grille to get every facet (best on coats two and three) — or will wear unevenly and perhaps have chrome peeking out eventually from some spots.

— Please… DO NOT USE HEAVY COATS or SPRAY TOO CLOSE TO SURFACE!  Ahh! I speak from experience.

Trust me trust me trust me…

How To DIY Plasti-Dip Your Grille:

1 — Unclip or un-mount the OEM grille — This is highly, highly recommended and usually really easy process. You will need a flat-head screwdriver to unclip the grille at its various mount points.

For my Subaru, there are only mounting clip-ins on the top, the bottom just snaps in like a battery cover  on a computer keyboard.

**If** you must leave the grille on the car to do the work, be very careful. Plasti-Dip does not like vertical surfaces. At all. It will run.

**If** you still want to leave the grille on the car while painting, not only green Frog tape the edges, but add a plastic tarp over entire car. Seriously. A plastic tarp will be the best five dollars you ever invest — because if the wind blows, tiny dots of plastic-dip will end up on your paint and glass. It cannot be removed easily or effectively. At all.

Even this Golf VW grille does come off. Find out how via a quick Google search “how to remove XYZ car grille.”

2 –When ready to paint, lay out many heavy carboard boxes onto your work surface. Avoid putting it on the ground to paint — Plasti-Dip takes much longer than spray paint to dry, and attracts dust, stones, leaves and anything else like flypaper.

2a) Mask off the badge/emblem, or remove it altogether during painting. (Recommended)

2b) Almost all emblems are double-stick-taped on. But the tape is strong. Use a free razor blade to loosen its contact, then a slim flathead to pry it off one area at a time. GENTLY!

3 — When to do? Outside, in temps of at least 50 degrees strongly suggested so Plasti-Dip dries as smooth as possible.

4 — Follow the Plasti-Dip instructions well, except when they say to do a heavy base coat layer.

5 — First layer: light as heck, barely covering surface. Wait ten minutes. Second layer, same. Wait 20 minutes. Third layer, same.

Plasti-Dip is great but takes some practice. If you over-do it on the first coat, it will create blobs of run-off in every corner and be basically ruined.

6 — Multiple coats, over a few hours, will all blend together into a flawlessly-smooth surface. But read the above warnings many times to avoid a Plasti-tragedy.

New OEM grilles are not cheap, nor is hours spent trying in vain to get plasti-dip blobs out of the first grille’s tiny corners.

How does my Subaru look with no grille at all and both front/rear bumpers in the cabin? =]




Not happy!  But a good “learning experience” — aka, major judgment failure on my part!

Okay!  Hopefully you feel less trashy about your own car since seeing all my awful modifications over the years =]

Now all that’s left to do is to throw in a speaker set (more info on that here) and hit the road.

But if you go for some of these ideas, please share your results!

Stay tuned for five more of my trashy DIY car mods in more articles today.


Next Segments coming in a few weeks?

— DIY LED High-Beams…

— DIY Comfort/Quietness Upgrades…

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)

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