RSAmerica.net

Read my lip ....
A scenario often seen on 964's - if you look closely at the front valance you can see where it "took one on the chin!"

Fixing the RSA "overbite".

by: By Keith V of CA

Taking care of a scenario often seen on 964s - the bent up front valance

It's a horrible sick feeling in the pit of your stomach ... one of those times when you wonder if grief actually does give you grey hair; because when things like this happen, you expect to look in the mirror and to look different, older, somehow ... more "worn out". If you don't have kids yet ... this may not make sense, but one day ... it will.

It's easily done. Having found a relatively "safe" parking spot away from the old, rusty, two-door clunkers with the huge doors that "large" people have a habit of swinging wide and dinging the car next to them; you find a wide spot in the shade. NOT under a tree so you don't have to go through the pain of trying to get sap and "gifts" from birds off your paint - then, just before you come to a complete stop ... you hear it .... or worse .... you feel it! The unforgiving "THUNK" that lets you know you are closer to the kerb or bump stop than you thought. Then you get out ... and pensively check the front of your ... and sure enough you see the front valance has been pushed up in the middle giving your 911 an uhappy looking front end.

It doesn't have to have a bent up front end!
The 964 "overbite" thing can take the edge off a great looking car.

Maybe it wasn't you that executed this dastardly deed. Maybe your RSA was like that when you bought it - my had a slight upward tilt to the front valance when I bought it - and for an otherwise VERY nice condition 964 ....... every time I looked at the front of the car ... even though it was only slight, it bugged the sh*t out of me. I was worried that I would have to go to a body shop to have the front bumper removed, re-aligned and dare I say it .... refinished!.

So what are you supposed to do when the above mentioned parking foul occurs? Well, despite several people reporting that they whole-heartedly tried it, swearing like a pi**ed-off gangster doesn't actually make things any better. The only good answer is to get the car to a spacious, uncluttered garage with some very basic hand tools with about an hour and a half to spare and, unless it was a heinously bad impact, you can (almost always) get your pride and joy back to as-new condition leaving no trace of the unmentionable incident.

So what does a "heinously" bad hit to the front valance look like ?......

Yup! ... Heinous!!
Just plain ....... HEINOUS! (Can you imagine the sound it made when the front end hit this hard?)

The following are a few examples of 964's suffering from this condition which can be easily taken care of by just about anybody, regardless fo technical prowess or level of mechanical expertise, simply by following the instructions in this article.



Let's talk about tools ... baby!

The list of tools required to fix this problem is remarkable.

It's remarkable in both that the list is actually extremely short AND that all of the listed tools are owned by just about everyone who has a car of any sort.



Item#
Tool Usage
1  Jack (aka floor jack).  Lifting RS America to get underside access.
2  Two axle-stands (aka jack-stands).  Supporting your RSA while you're underneath it.
3  Phillips screwdriver (size medium).  Cleaning your ears (isn't it obvious?).
4  Vice Grips or pliers.  Straightening a bent metal flange.
5  12 oz. adult beverege(s).  Celebrating a successful repair (in an adult fashion).
6  Approx. 6ft.x 6ft. of open floor space.  Performing a victory dance having just fixed your RSA AND having had a beer.

 

The lifting of the car.

Jack up the drivers side of the car.
Using the jack, raise the one side of the car.

Step 1: Place the jack under the rear jacking point located just in front of the drivers side rear wheel and slowly jack up the car so the front wheel is off the ground by around three to six inches and place a jack stand under the front jacking point just behind the front wheel. This is a safety precaution just in case the jack were to slip or otherwise fail.

TIP: I know this is common sense and everyone already knows this, but ......... NEVER work under any car without jack stands. You may be able to work without them hundreds of times without a problem, but the one time there is a problem the trouble you will be in far outweighs the minor hassle of finding and using jack stands ... by an order of magnitude.

Jack the drivers side up so the front wheel is completely off the ground.
Place the jack stand under the front LH jacking point.
Jack up the car so the front wheel is completely off the ground - place a jack stand under the front jacking point.

Step 2: Go to the other side of the car and jack the opposite front wheel up and place it on another axle stand.

So now you have the front of the car jacked up and resting on axle-stands, I suggest you clear everything on the floor out from under the car (except the jack which I personally choose to leave in place - lightly supporting the car whenever I work with axle-stands) and then, I try and move the car on the axle stands by giving it a good push and a hard pull. This step is not a strength test, in fact it may be a total waste of your time, but for me ... I like to be as sure as I possibly can be that the car is "rock solid" and not about to tip or slide off the axle stands. In the unlikely event that such an awful thing were to happen (heaven forbid) you would at least have the jack in place so you can jack it up again.

Axle stands in place ... jack for insurance
Wheels up .... jack stands in place, floor-jack lightly supporting the car (just for peace of mind).

In this case we aren't removing the wheels, but frequently that is the case and I've often wondered ... if the car is up on axle stands and you've taken the wheels off, if you take the jack out from underneath the car and the car were to slip off the jack stands ... how would you pick the car up to get the jack back underneath the sucker?

Step 3: Start undoing screws ...

So lets take a look at what we are about to take off. Underneath the front of your RSA are the two large plastic halves of the front valance which join along the centerline of the car. Fixing these two halves together is a flat metal strip about 2 feet long oriented such that it is parallel to the front license plate. This strip has four screw holes in it - two screws go into each valance half. We shall refer to this metal strip as the splice.

P911 RSA - looking unhappy ...
The 3 Parts to be removed.

There are a total of 30 phillips screws holding the front valance onto the car, four in the splice, three either side which have to be accessed from inside the front wheel wells, and the remaining 20 are all accessed from underneath the car.

P911 RSA - looking unhappy ...
The splice.

The first four screws to remove are those holding the splice in place. Then remove the splice and put it somewhere safe along with its four screws. CAUTION: All 20 of the phillips screws you remove have a life of their own and as soon as you're not looking they will wander off. Sometimes you can find them while they are in the process of wandering away from where you left them (this is usually done by kneeling on them - please don't ask me how I know this) but most times you will find out much later on in this process that one (or possibly more) of the screws that you removed and put "somewhere safe" ... is missing.

P911 RSA - looking unhappy ...
Advanced splice removal technique.

With the splice removed, it is just a matter of removing the remaining screws to take off the valance halves ... right? Well actually, no. It's not quite that simple -because if you undo the screws in a random order, the full weight of the valance could end up bearing on one screw and may cause the valance to crack. The reason for this, is that each valance half has three plastic "barbs" or tabs on its outboard edge, which effectively act as a hinge such that the valances are hinged on their outboard edges so when you go to lower them away from under the car they open like a set of French doors.

So what does this mean? It means it is a good idea to leave one valance retaining screw fairly near the center of the car in place for each valance half, so this last screw will share the weight of the valance with the tabs until you undo it ... and then as you undo that last screw the valance halves will pivot slowly down at the center of the car.

Make sure that you do not forget to undo the three screws on the aft edge of each valance half - the ones we mentioned earlier are accessible from inside the wheel wells. As the car has the front wheels off the ground the wheels can be easily turned L - R to full lock to give better access to these three screws in front of the tire, but remember, if the key is not in the ignition the steering lock will kick in.

3 screws in each wheel well.
Removing the 3 LH wheel well screws.

Step 4: Inspection of the Repair to the deflected valance attach flange.

So the valance halves are off ...... now what? Well, if you look up at the front end the metal structure that is the outer surface of the front trunk floor, you will see it has a flange that protrudes forward. It is this flange that the aft edge of the plastic valance panels mount to. The root cause of the "permanent" deformation of your valance is that when the front valance plastic panels are impacted, to a certain degree they just bend and would simply spring back, but .... any further loading beyond that point and the load is transferreed into this relatively thin metal flange causing it to yield and deflect upwards. Once bent upward, this flange effectively restrains both the plastic valance panels and the plastic bumper skin causing them to stay in their upward deflected position and not allowing the bumper/valance assembly to spring back down to their unloaded position.

3 screws in each wheel well.
valance halves removed and trunk floor front metal flange visible.

Step 5: Bend the sucka back!.

Obviously, the "repair" consists of bending the forward trunk flange down to remove the preload it is transmitting into all components that attach to it. The two questions that spring to mind about bending this flange down are "How?" and "How much?"

The how is easy, take a sturdy pair of vice grips or pliers, firmly grasp the flange and gently bend it down.

3 screws in each wheel well.
The bending of the flange.

How much to bend it? Well, you actualy have a template showing how much to bend the flange down in the form of the lowest part of the bumper which, once no longer restrained by the valance panels, will deflect back down to it's non-loaded position. To make sure the non-loaded lower edge of the bumper is in its correct position, ensure the black plastic grill behind the bumper panel is correctly located.

3 screws in each wheel well.
It is the bumper and grill correctly snapped together that ensures the inlet slots are parallel.

Typically when the front valance is hit and the bumper, valances and front flange deflect upward, the majority of the plastic barbs on the body colored bumper panel disengage from their respective holes in the grill. In an earlier image (above the one with the yellow arrow), you can see that the plastic tabs on the bumper have been correctly snapped back into place on the grill (18 places total). Make sure that the grill/bumper interface is correctly aligned and assembled in all 18 positions. The 18 holes in the grill intended for bumper tabs can be identified by the adjacent grill mesh hole being blanked out. It's far easier to understand when you see the parts that go together than it is to explain in written text.

As an approximate test fit of the set up, you can hold the valance in place and press hard where the fasteners would grip the valance against the flange and it should all line up. Having worked this fix on six or seven 964's so far, I can tell you that you need to bend the flange down more than you would think. I recommend that you bend it so it is aiming below the bottom of the body colored bumper shell. If you happen to bend it a tad too far, the bumper tabs that snap into the grill will stop the horizontal slots from over-opening. In this case you have reversed the pre-load that was causing the intake to stay too closed up, and using a significantly smaller pre-load to make sure it stays as far open as the grill/bumper assembly will allow - which is the correct amount.

Step 6: The home stretch.

Now might be a good time to clean up your front valance panels a little (if that's your thing) either way, it's worth taking a minute to note that the RH valance panel has to be fitted first because the LH panel fits over the top of it at the joint dead center. So now all there is to do is to align and insert the three tabs on the valance panels outer edge with the associated holes in the body colored bumper panel and place a screw through the valance somewhere near the centerline of the car to hold the valance in place and share the weight of the panel with the three tabs (per the undoing procedure detailed above). Then put all the screws back in a few turns but do not fully tighten them as you insert each one. Why? beacuse you will have inserted twenty-something out of the 30 screws, and then ... according to Murphy's Law, one of the last screws will not screw in - maybe because the clip-nut is not sufficiently aligned for the screw to bite into the threaded hole. If this happens it is not a major problem, but ... it is decision time ... you have to ask yourself ..."Do I really want to undo twenty-something phillips screws and lower the valance panel once again to address this one awkward screw? .... or am I done with this exercise and hearing the call of the adult beverage that hits the back of the tongue just about one minute after all four tires touch the ground and the jack is rolled out from under the car". You're on your own with this one ... I can't help you.

Step 7: The gloating.

This is the stage where you feel empowered. In your head you'll start going through a list of all your buddies who own 964s and trying to remember if they have a valance problem so you can now help them by explaining how taking care of it is "a piece of cake". At this point it's fairly typical to spend time staring at your RSA and thinking thoughts like "Damn ... I love this car!".

3 screws in each wheel well.
[P911 RSA] Before.

3 screws in each wheel well.
[P911 RSA] After.

Some of us may go the extra step of going into the house, finding "the Mrs." and bringing her out into the garage to see just how good the car now looks. The trick to remember here is that if you do a really good job, nobody will ever know that it was damaged - the car will look completely normal, .... nothing unusual about the front end at all - nothing to see here! From your perspective, as the repairer of the damage, you can really appreciate the improvement, however, it is worth noting that if the Mrs. was ... oh let's say ..... just getting out of the shower when you brought her out into the garage to look at the splendid job you did .......... then from her standpoint ... the appreciation may be ... not so much.

3 screws in each wheel well.
Black 964 Before.

3 screws in each wheel well.
Black 964 After.

Step 8: The thanking.

The more astute among you may have noticed that in the photo's above, the car on which this exercise was performed changed color a few times. In some cases it even grew a set of square mirrors! The reason is of course the photo's have been gathered from more than one performance of this rework/repair and more than one 964. As a result thanks are due to at least four contributors to this article. Many thanks to Lonnie B of VA for creating the striking gif header image. For providing their cars and/or images thanks are due to Stu S of NY (black RSA), Bruce W of CA (black 964) and last ... but by no means least, the legendary Peter C of CA (guards RSA).

Step 9: .............. there is no step 9 ..... we're done here!


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