The old front bumper has to be removed from the Land Rover to make way for a new winch bumper

While waiting for the remaining suspension parts to be delivered, I took a moment to remove the original front bumper from the Defender. How hard can it be, right?

While I love the classic simplicity of the stock Land Rover Defender bumper, we need a winch tray!

There are four 17mm bolts easily accessed from the top of the bumper; two at the foremost end of each frame rail. They’re long bolts that pass through the entire height of the frame rail, and are backed by two nut-plates.

Nice! With nut-plates, you don’t need to hold anything with a wrench on the backside. Although it’s possible that if your bumper has been swapped at some point over the years, you might have regular nuts on there.

Two 17mm bolts at the end of each frame rail. I used an open end wrench to stay away from the painted grille.

Give the bolts a good soak

Like with the suspension, I doused the bumper bolts with penetrating oil days in advance, which helped… but I probably should’ve hit them again.

The bolts turned easily at first, but as I progressed, the rusty, 30 year old hardware started to bind up. Three of the four bolts made it out okay, but the last one snapped, leaving a bolt-fragment over an inch in length, stuck inside the nut-plate. This made the subsequent extraction of the nut-plate from the frame rail a little bit challenging.

Three out of four ain't bad.
Using pliers to try to extract the broken bolt from the frame rail, as it is still attached to the nut-plate.

Wrestling with a broken bolt

I spent the better part of an hour twisting and contorting the nut-plate using a pair of pliers, trying to find the best orientation for its removal. The worst-case scenario was that I would have to cut the broken bolt off, and I had good access to the fragment to do so, but it ended up not being necessary.

With a determined tug, I finally managed to remove the plate.

If I need to, I can hold the nut-plate in this position and cut the bolt fragment off.
With some twisting and contorting, and good tug, I was able to remove the nut-plate with the broken bolt fragment from the frame rail.

The bumper removal should’ve take 15 minutes at most, but I spent considerably more time wrestling with the broken bolt. This is the way.

The final step

One last step to remove the two tow-rings that I installed under the front bumper a couple of years ago, because the forthcoming winch bumper will utilize these mounting holes for additional reinforcement.

One last step is to remove the tow-rings from the frame rail, as the new winch bumper utilizes these mounting holes.
Ready for the new bumper. Between you and me, I am going to remove the grille and fix the bonnet latch first.

Now we’re ready for the new bumper.

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