Front grille replacement

1986-1995 : 200TD, 200CE, E200, 260E, 300E 2.6, 300E 2.8, 300E, E320, 400E, E420, 500E, E500, 300CE, E320, 230TE, 300TE, 300D 2.5 TURBO, E300 DIESEL, 300TD, 300E 4MATIC, 300TE 4MATIC, E36 AMG
Post Reply
User avatar
C Class
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri 12 Aug, 2016 3:05 pm
Model you own: w124
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Front grille replacement

Post by dhaigh » Sun 21 Jan, 2018 7:10 pm

Here is an easy job that will greatly enhance the look of your W124 Mercedes.
Replacing the grille on the W124 appears a daunting prospect initially, because of all the fiddly bits and pieces that must be removed to get the grille off the car. And there are lots of horror stories regarding the spring loaded clips that hold the grille in place, cutting fingers and so forth. However, it is a lot easier than most people think.
The operation explained here is for the early W124, and first facelift model, with the Mercedes Star on the chrome surround. Later models, and second facelift model, with the Star on the bonnet will be slightly different.
Tools you will need:
Long-nose pliers
Phillips screwdriver
10mm spanner
8mm spanner (open-ended)
New grille panel – Part Nbr 124 888 02 23 (early W124, and first facelift model)
The common theory is it’s easier to take the entire grille and surround off the car and work with it on the bench, for easier access to the spring loaded clips that hold the grille in each corner.
However, it’s worth doing ‘in place’ on the car for 2 reasons – (1) the front chrome surround is fiddly to get off (it is attached to the bonnet by 4 bolts that are hard to reach) and (2) you avoid damaging the rubber seal that fits between the surround and the bonnet.
Tip: Cover the entire engine with a sheet. You will be working with the bonnet open and above the engine, and Murphy’s Law states that you WILL drop a small component in the engine bay and lose it!
First, let’s get those 4 clips off each corner. This was actually the easiest part of the job! Hey, I didn’t need to take the entire assembly off the car to do this!
Using the long-nose pliers, firmly grab each bottom clip on the end that presses against the grille and it’s a downward and away action to remove the clip. Simple. Watch out they don’t spring out of the pliers, and fall somewhere you can’t find them (hence the sheet!).
Now remove the screw that holds each top clip in place. Then it’s the same action with the long-nose pliers as before.
Second, using an open-ended 8mm spanner, loosen the nut that holds the circular MB emblem on the top of the grille. If you loosen it off fully, but do not remove it, this will be adequate to slide the old grille down and away. I didn’t want to take the little nut off completely, because it’s a tight squeeze for a finger up there at the top of the grille, and it would prove fiddly to get back.
Then, use a 10mm spanner to remove the nut and bolt that holds the bonnet latch that goes through the grille. Be careful, there is a small spacer washer between nut and bolt and you don’t want to lose it.
Finally, undo the Philips screw, in the centre underneath the chrome surround.
Now the grille will slide out of the chrome surround – or will it? I found that the grille is tighter than a glove in there. I was able to push the grille upwards, for it to pop out of the bottom centre of the surround, but I encountered 2 small tabs on the bottom inside of the chrome surround that prevented the corners of the grille from popping out. There’s a hair’s breadth in it. However, these small tabs can be pressed back and out of the way with some pliers, and the grille will pop out.
Now you have the grille out and on the bench, the chrome strips will slide out quite easily – side ones first, and vertical one last. Be very careful – these are fragile and can be easily damaged. Slide the trim strips onto the new grille in the opposite order.
Tip: Before you put the trim strips back on, pay particular attention to the finish of the tabs that position the strips on the grille. Compare the new grille to the old grille for this purpose. I found the channel that the vertical strip slides through had some plastic blocking the channel, and I had to use a Stanley knife to carefully cut the plastic away from the channel for the trim strip to slide easily through it.
The side strips have a channel on each side to guide them through the tabs that hold them in place. Guide them through the tabs gently as it’s easy for them to misfit and sit incorrectly on the grille (see profile photo).
Now the grille is ready to go back in the chrome surround. This is basically the reverse procedure of before.
Tip: Before placing the new grille in the surround, take a minute and inspect the profile of the opening where the latch will go for opening the bonnet. I found that the opening in the new grille for the latch was not as wide as the old grille (see photo of old grille), which would impede the smooth operation of the latch. This required carefully making the opening larger with a Stanley knife, without damaging the grille. Care is needed – you don’t want to slash your wrist or the grille (much more important).
The bottom clips are easy – position the clip on the chrome surround and a firm push with either the pliers or a screwdriver will get them on.
The top clips were fiddlier because they have to fit onto the grille surround without fouling the rubber seal which fits between the clip and the bonnet, and at the same time allowing for the hole in the clip to line up with the hole for the tightening screw when it is done. A few attempts and they were on.
Tip: I used a small screwdriver to lift the chrome surround a little, away from the rubber seal and the bonnet, so I could get the clip onto the chrome surround and give it a firm push without fouling the rubber seal.
When it’s all finished and in place, test the latch for smooth operation and it’s all done. I found that on opening the bonnet, the latch was sticking in the ‘out’ position and not springing back correctly, so more careful cutting with a Stanley knife. After 2 or 3 attempts, the latch operated smoothly.
Looks good!
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
1988 300CE Coupe
1989 300E
1990 MX5
1966 Ford Fairmont
1954 Healey BN1
1972 E-Type V12
See my website: for the complete list!

B Class
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 1:42 am
Model you own: w124
Location: Brisbane Australia

Re: Front grille replacement

Post by crazycrowbar » Tue 23 Jan, 2018 12:57 pm

Very detailed and in-depth tutorial.......
Nice to read and very informative..........Thanks for the contribution!!!

User avatar
Christo C
S Class
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri 04 Jul, 2014 9:24 am
Model you own: w124
Location: Sydney [Beaconsfield]

Re: Front grille replacement

Post by Christo C » Tue 23 Jan, 2018 2:18 pm

Yes, good one ... Thanks!
1986 230E W124.023 M102.982 ~290,000km Thistle Green Saloon "Janis"

Post Reply

Return to “W124”