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420 Posts
Discussion Starter #41 (Edited)
Mod/Upgrade/Fix: Mod
Exterior Mod Part 1 - Nose Job planning after FAIL
Completed: 10/12/19
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What started out as a quest to cover up the lower grill for radiator protection at a reasonable price turned into a front end transformation. I went the route of picking up some mesh gutter guard from Lowe's to being frustrated with the lack of rigidness to accommodate DRL mounting. If I had just been happy with a grill insert I would have been done and only accumulated about $5 in cost. Well that didn't happen.

Crazy that this is that wide open, and yes, huge a$$ grasshoppers, cicadas, and just about every summertime bug in the midwest ended up lodged in the lower rad. Surprised we don't see more holes in these Frontier radiators due to the exposure on the front end.

Original fitment testing with gutter guard. I was stuck on having the fit not sitting so much on the outside, but fitting directly into the slot in the opening. The white marks are chalk lines for adjusting around the struts. I could never get it to feel solid enough to even brace down with zip ties and I had it angled downwards, which would negate any DRL application I wanted to mount to it. Looked horrible and was scratching the $hit out of the lower plastic so I abandoned it.

My next step in this project was to take a look at what was on the market and pricing. If I was going to mount something in here somehow, should I also look at getting rid of the standard honeycomb grill inserts up above as well, or covering them up with something? I wasn't stuck on the gutter guard pattern either. That's just how they come and some manufacturers of actual grill inserts use this same pattern. How much was this going to cost and how much would I have to customize? What about replacing the entire plastic piece under the fake chrome? What are the options there? Here's "that guy" getting hopes up in the community. My main goal was quality, good price, and the look I wanted. Siding towards murdering out the front end so I'm sticking with matte black as my theme.

What's on the market? eBay and Amazon are full of options. The Navarra options make you sick as they don't traditionally fit the Frontier. I'm not really a fan of the bolt on look and billet, whether black or chrome, doesn't appeal to me and IMO, are cheap looking. So is that Lincoln vertical Navigator look, cheap looking (Just my opinion and yours may differ and I'm not here to argue... It's my taste, and again... opinion)

Not feeling it...
Not feeling it...
Really not feeling it...
cheesy05.png cheesy06.png
The above are eBay and Amazon examples still priced at $30 to $40 for the lower fitment and another $80 to $90 for the uppers. The vertical grill varies from supplier, but is about $100. Quality is the key and where you are taking a chance.

I started gravitating towards this mesh look:

And even considered this but it's too glossy and closer to $200:

Pricier Option but do look kicka$$:
Final verdict - While this supplier didn't have a grill insert for the lower grill portion for 05-08 or 09+, I decided to reach out to them and ask if they were considering one. Matt from indicated that they didn't have one, but if I could get some sort of template over to him, he would size it up and produce it, and we could test fitment from there and see how it goes. I chose the "Perf SS" pattern and along the way, I went ahead and ordered custom letters and the grill inserts for the upper portion as well. First on tap was the lower grill. The template I sent him fit really tight, so I knew that we would possibly be off about 1/4 inch due to the trim application surrounding the metal piece and I was hoping trimming wouldn't be an issue with some tin snips.

420 Posts
Discussion Starter #42 (Edited)
Mod/Upgrade/Fix: Upgrade
Exterior Mod Part 2 - Lower Grill Fitment adjustment
Completed: 10/12/19
Purchase Link(s):
Associated Threads:
The grill pieces arrived and I immediately unboxed them and went to the garage. Initial fitment test was that it was extremely tight. I wanted a little bit of wiggle room so I went to work trimming off about 1/4 inch off the bottom.

Now it fit in there nice and snug.

Good solid foundation to mount some LEDs, but I wanted to make sure it stayed in place so I decided that actually mounting it to the bumper would be best to supplement the zip ties that were supplied to affix to the struts. Using a 9/32 bit, I drilled a hole in the mesh and also in the bumper for a mount point.

Remembering I had some hardware from another project (fender washers) and a quick trip to Menards for some more hardware and some coupling nuts to offset the curvature of the grill helped to button it up nicely.

420 Posts
Discussion Starter #43 (Edited)
Mod/Upgrade/Fix: Upgrade
Exterior Mod Part 3 - DRL LEDs installed on lower grill fitment
Completed: 10/12/19
Purchase Link(s):
Associated Threads:
I am a big Fan of DRL's (Daytime running Lamps) and the fact that they are only standard in Canada and other regions other than the US is beyond me. Perhaps 2021 version. What can I do on the cheap to incorporate this into the front end of the Frontier??? My function for these aren't to blind oncoming traffic nor a full blown LED light bar to light up the grand canyon. I needed low wattage, ease of installation, to be illuminated when the truck was started, and possibly dim a little if the headlamps were activated. I also wanted a custom config option of the pattern so individual lights seemed to be the best option. I use the fogs so these were out of the question and I don't want to use halos or stick ons around the headlamps, nor adding to the headlamps housing and possibly jacking those up.

I settled on the eagle eye style of LEDs and while I was shopping I found a relay that would *hopefully help with the ease of wiring. eBay is littered with these things, but I chose Amazon.

YITAMOTOR 10PCS Amber White Eagle Eye LED
HUIQIAODS Car LED Controller Daytime Running Light Lamp

I didn't know if I would use all of the 10 piece set, but I knew that I would use at least 6 of them, but I needed to figure out a lower bumper fitment and what configuration pattern I would do. So I turned to the Frontier Mod Facebook group to get some opinions and the 3rd option won outright. I already had a lower grill mesh fitment that I knew would house the LEDs so It was just a matter of installing, wiring, testing, and then possibly smiling? Anything I had left over I may try to MOD up a side mirror turn signal led as these also had amber in them. For the front facing LED, I only wanted the bright white color.

The lower grill guard simply needed holes wide enough to accomodate the LED housing and the mounting bolt to secure on the backside.

Everything lined up and a test fitment before wiring commenced. I had to accommodate the front license plate mount as it's required in my state as well:

Looks fairly cheapish, but I'm fine with it as that silly license plate bracket will need to go back on. Maybe later I can find some nice ones that are sold in pair housings and install 4 of them in the same spot. They aren't even lit up yet, so the wiring needed to happen to get the overall look completed and functional.

Wiring them up started with cleaning up the 8 different wires that needed just two connection points into the relay. What I thought would be red as positive for white LEDs and black as negative ground actually ended up being either yellow or orange colored, so I cut back the red wires to get them out of the way. Important to test everything on a 12v battery to make sure you don't put it all together and it doesn't work, or worse, some amber colored and some white.

Successful test after initial soldering. Ready to wrap up shrink wrap and making as waterproof as I can.

Cleaning up the install with tubing.

Wiring routed and relay installed:


420 Posts
Discussion Starter #44 (Edited)
Mod/Upgrade/Fix: Mod
Exterior Mod Part 4 - Upper Grill Mod(s): Black out the nose and Grill Insert Mod
Completed: 10/12/19
Purchase Link(s):
Associated Threads:
Now with the lower grill buttoned up, it was time to embark on a journey with my dremel and some steady hands. The other parts of my kit from left to prep were the custom letters for badging and the 3 pieces of pre cut mesh. On top of that, I wanted to rid myself of the chrome up front on the nose as I had the entire grill off the truck already.

Dremel action began with removing the inner honeycomb design to make way for the mesh grill. Matt has some really good install videos here. Many of the tabs of the chrome shroud will be cut off in this step of the process.
  1. Separation of the plastic back of the grill from the chrome shroud so I could get to work.
    • I kept the integrity of the screw mount points the best I could as I would be using them later to supplement gluing these two items back together.
  2. Middle section rough cut. (Dremel cutting wheel)
  3. Side section rough cut. (Both of these needed to be cleaned up - also done with a dremel grinding attachment.)
  4. Test fitting while I cleaned up the rough openings.

The aluminum letters for "N.I.S.S.A.N" were cut from raw aluminum and very little polishing on the front of the letters. I chose to paint these myself otherwise there is $100 option from customcargrills for them to shoot some paint on them for you. Matt also has an instructional video on how to install and align the letters here.
  1. My goal was to get a color very similar to the truck color (A15) but with a little contrast to them so they would stick out a little. Hopefully it would complement the existing color of my truck.
  2. Attached some bolts with Automotive Goop for ease of handling while painting. (These should pop off easily later)
  3. Metal surface prep with 80 grit them 320 grit.
  4. Etch Primer coats
  5. 4 coats of color
  6. 3 coats of clear
  7. Alignment on the center grill piece
  8. Affixed with Goop for some drying time with a chrome hamburger comparison for spacing

The chrome needed to go on the shroud so some good "roughing up" needed to happen. I wanted this to adhere as best as it could so I took my prep time seriously. Originally I was going to plasti-dip it, but what the heck, let's do it officially with a good solid and permanent coating.
  1. Standard scotch pad type drill attachment to really rough it up.
  2. 1/2 scratched up and 1/2 not.
  3. Looks fairly rough enough after running the drill over everything to be coated
  4. I think I'm finished with this part of the prep after an 80 grit follow up
  5. This is plastic in the end, so I wanted to make sure I did my research on some of the best products to use for a good adhering coating in the end.
    • cleaned it up good after the sanding down with mineral spirits.
    • 3 coats of adhesion promoter, followed by etching primer, 2 coats.
    • Good acetone rub down after primer cured for 24 hours
    • Decided to try Trim and Bumper Paint from Rust-Oleum for the first time after I saw a few pics where the finish looked really sharp. 3 light coats and 1 medium to finish. I had anxiety about this product running a little but it was a good spray pattern.
    • Let it cure out in the sun after it dried in the garage for a good hour.
    • Wait another 48 hours to ensure a good cure before I started exposing it to zip ties while I glued the shroud back on to the inner plastic base.

Wth the shroud cured, it was time to get it glued to the plastic and then work on aligning the grill pieces. Following along with Matt's installation video, I decided to use Automotive Goop rather than the Pliogrip as the price difference is significant. Be prepared to use the whole 3.7 oz. tube to get good contact, maybe even more. As I mentioned earlier, I kept the screw mount points between the shroud and plastic in tact so I could re-use them. A good day of curing and it was time to zip tie the grill pieces to secure them while gluing.

Ready to roll... Ensured a good tight hold on the zip ties and protection on the paint. Used JB Weld Plastic Bonder, which dries in black, and for application I used some of those medication syringes for toddlers. Mixed up the glue and activator straight in the syringe. Made it much easier to apply.

A good 24 hour cure time and install complete.

Project complete!
Estimated total project costs:
  • Grill accessories: $155.00
  • Mod Fail: $10
  • DRL Lighting and electrical supplies: Approx. $60
  • Products(Glue/Paint/solvents): Approx. $75
  • Total: Approx. $300
Man/Beer Hours:
  • Research: 2 Hours
  • Production:
    • 4 hours lower grill fitment - install/testing/alteration/mounting/wiring
    • 8 hours modding/painting/gluing.
    • 1 hour install upper grill
    • 3 hours staring and thinking and drinking
    • 2 hours photography
    • 2 hours documentation in build thread
    • Total production/research hours: 22 hours
  • Wait time
    • 4 days total for curing items
  • Beers/Alcohol - Approximately 24 total
    • Miller Lite with red
    • Dos Equis
    • Modelo
    • Moscow Mules
    • Maybe a Shock Top thrown in there
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