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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, thanks to GTS Dean for years ago, making statement of the general steps in this process. It is what I have based this on, albeit orders of magnitude more detail.

So, in this thread is…

* How I aligned my fascia to the hood.
* What modifications I did to the car to prevent reoccurrence of misalignment.

Sadly though, there is no step by step one tutorial fits all way to write this. So I’m going to show you what all the alignment planes (or views are), combined with how to change things and just as importantly, make it stay that way.

This process can be frustrating and time consuming. Frustrating because there will be plenty of trial and error as you fit, check, refit, recheck and so on. Time consuming is built in therefore. I spent 3 weeks on my car. The results were fantastic, and have so far not crept after over a year of driving. The problems that I were trying to fix happened within 6 months or so after some replacement panels were done. I won’t blame the shop that did the work mind you, just trying to point out how fast it went bad, and how well a good repair can hold.

To emphasize here, this is how to do it right, so that all views are correct, and they will stay put. There will be plenty of people brag that they did the same thing in just 5 minutes and it looks great. Good for you. Bring me your car and let me review it.


There are 9 alignment items that I adjusted. Or at least made sure they didn’t get jacked while aligning something else. That is how a lot of this works; fix one thing and 3 others go whacko.

This picture shows 3 of them.

1) The proverbial “hood gap”
2) Parallelism of the surfaces of the gap to each other
3) The arc of the hood lining up with the arc of the fascia in the wheel opening

Looking down at that same area, several things can be wrong. Either the hood or the fascia can stick out farther than the other, or the curvature of one versus the other does not match. Alignment item 4…

Alignment item 5, the transition from the hood to the fascia along the front. If one sticks up higher than the other it looks retarded.

Alignment item 6. The gap above the headlights. It’s part of the aero design of the car, but that doesn’t stop some people from shimming it out. If you do leave it, you will want it to be even side to side.

Next, the gap from the headlight to the fascia, right in front of the headlight. Looks tacky when you can see down in there. Alignment item 7:

The last two alignment points. The tip of the hood where it transfers to the fascia at the headlight, as well as if it is touching the headlight, and then the gap between the hood and fascia as it arcs along the entire front of the car between the headlights. Please note that in this picture I have but one of the 11 fasteners in along the top/front of the fascia. It would normally be a tighter fit, the gap along the front.

So that’s the list of what can look good or bad. Some things you have more control over than others. But the next step is to study your car and make sure you completely understand what it is you want to align. Might not hurt to write it down and stick it on the wall too.

I also took some measurements from the floor up to the car in a few places. Like at the “gap” area right in front of the wheels. Write it down and keep it as a reference. Stick it on the wall.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I mention at the beginning of this thread that showing you how to make these adjustments stay put is part of what I’m doing here. To explain that further…

There are two reasons short of direct physical damage, that in my opinion, the fit of the fascia to the hood changes over time. First off is sag. The entire front assembly is plastic. Which over the years, could deform slightly and droop to the outer extremes. Like where the “hood gap” is.

Secondly, is that all of the factory attachment points of the core support to the steel chassis, are just sheet metal screws. Granted, big ones, but how about some bolt threads and bolts?

So, I will point out shimming the core support, and converting to threads and bolts where possible / practical. If your factory screws are not stripped or otherwise to your dissatisfaction, then ignore those conversions to bolts as I go along here.

I said early on here I can’t give an exact procedure for your car because I can’t see your car to tell what it needs. But I can state there are 2 basic steps to the biggest item, the core support.

And those 2 basic steps are:

1) Shim, position and anchor the core support correctly to the frame, independent of the braces and brackets that supplement the core support.

2) Use the sets of braces to hold the core support but not position it.

Can the braces tweak the position of the core support? Yes, they should not however be used to fix gross alignment issues.

Since some owners may not have ever seen the front all apart, here are a few good pics of what the front looks like.

This picture is with the core support removed, sitting in front of the car. You will not have to go this far at all unless you determine after failing to align the core support by shimming etc, that your frame is bent. Then you’ll need to strip it down to straighten the frame.

This picture is when I was working on my car. The nose and rebar off. Also note the piece of 3” angle iron laying underneath the car across the front. Since the car was not perfectly level sitting on stands I shimmed the steel angle to match the car so I could take reference measurements from the car to the ground. In summary, this pic is more representative of the level of disassembly to align things.

Shimming and anchoring the core support to the frame.

Once again, it is assumed you have studied the car and by now realize what it is that needs aligning.

You close the gap at the wheel wells by shimming the core support up at the lower frame horns. This will not affect the fit along the front edge of the hood. That is done with, or at, the rebar.

You anchor the core support to the frame with 2 screws (or bolts) on each side. These are installed at the factory, but you will need to adjust or maybe modify them.

There can also be shims between the frame and the core support where the 2 factory screws are on each side. Those shims can by there for several reasons. To simply fill the gap, to move the core support to one side or the other, or to spread it a bit and make it wider on both sides. That would affect the view as looking DOWN on the hood gap area.

Here is the location of the shims from the core support to the lower frame horns.

And here is a shim removed. Please excuse the melted look on one end…

So. To get the shims in and out, and then add or subtract them. Am I ready to go as soon as I pull the nose off? NO! The following parts / items must be undone first. (pics of them as this thread progresses…)

1) Core support braces to frame inside wheel well. (trace location with pencil first)

2) Core support struts to frame below headlights. (trace location with pencil first)

3) Screws on each side of core support going in to the side of the upper frame rails. (trace location with pencil first if you can reach them)

With those items undone or loosened, here is a picture of my jack placement when lifting the core support to access the shims.

While lifting it watch for one, that it is actually going up, and two, that if not, it isn’t binding up on the attachment screws to the frame. You may run out of travel in the holes. I did on my car, so I had to completely remove the screws on one side to get the shims in and out.

Here is the gap you should end up with to get the shims in and out:

The slotted holes in the shims are to pass around the rubber mounts on the bottom of the a/c condenser and the radiator. You might check alignment of those if you are so inclined; that those rubber mounts are actually in the holes in the core support.

Here’s looking down at the hole the radiator foot sits into, with the radiator pulled back and the a/c condenser in front of it.

If the radiator or a/c condenser are jacked up and not setting down correctly, this is probably the problem area.

The core support shims are available from Mopar. At least they are listed in the catalog. I made my own from nylon sheet from McMaster Carr.

So how do you determine the correct amount of shims? Well, did you take measurements before you tore it apart like I suggested? And then there’s the constant *reinstall the nose and check my progress* step. Followed by the *repeat or adjust* step. As you add or subtract shims.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Now to look at the braces, struts and screws that hold / help hold the position of the core support to the frame.

I mentioned there are 2 screws per side that directly attach the core support to the sides of the upper frame rails. On my ’01 ABS car, the 2 on the drivers side are crammed in behind the ABS module. A little tricky to get to. On the passenger side, easy access, and those were the 2 on my car that were way off from the hole when the shimming was done.

You can see the holes in the plastic core support. You can see there’s a shim wedged in there and it is clear of the holes. But the holes in the steel frame are not visible.

I had shimmed the core support up, so the holes in the frame must be down then. A 1/2” drum sander on my Dremel and there they are.

I installed 1/4-20 rivet nuts in the passenger side. I would have done the drivers side too but those screws still matched hole to hole, coupled with I really didn’t want to remove my ABS module to access them.

1/4-20 body bolts.

Before moving on from the topic of getting the core support set to the frame, a few words about the shims where the core support is anchored to the frame. And any adjustment front to back in the slotted holes.

The shims between the core support and the frame can be to simply fill a gap, but not move the parts in relation to each other. If however you tighten the screws and the parts move and you don’t want them to, you may need a shim there.

If the fascia pokes out on one side remove a shim. If it is in too far install a shim. And of course, all the while test fitting the nose as you go.

The fact the holes in the core support are slotted will allow for a slight amount of movement fore to aft. This can address how the arc of the wheel well looks from the side, hood to fascia. There are other adjustments for that too, but just be aware as you tighten those 4 bolts - 2 per side - that there are multiple axis at work.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
With the core support now located properly and anchored, there are 2 sets of braces / struts to install.

Some words of warning on them… It is very tempting to just lean on the whole bumper mess to push it in position, then tighten these braces to hold it there. Instead of shimming and/or aligning first.

Two things will go wrong there.

1) It won’t stay. Hit a few bumps and it will find it’s way back.

2) More importantly, it will make a nasty mess of the hood to fascia “hood gap” area. The curves looking down won’t match, and the surfaces looking at the gap from the sides won’t be parallel any more.

Can / should these braces be used for light tweaking / holding? Yes. But if you have to put your knee or shoulder into it and have a buddy tighten the brace while you hold the fascia… Bzzzzt.

Both of these sets of braces should have either been removed or loosened before the jacking up and shimming of the frame. If you like the way things are then you can simply retighten them.

The strut as it is called, is this one. I’ve highlighted where it attaches. Although I’m sure I could have done the rivetnut conversion where the sheet metal screw attaches it to the frame, they tightened up nicely so I let them stay as they were. They other end has nuts welded to the strut.

The flat sheet metal brace inside the wheel well is yet another support. I found that when I went to tighten the factory sheet metal screws in to the frame, that they were just stripping out. They are actually a metric machine thread tho, so I reamed the holes out and installed same thread rivetnuts. The attachment to the core support already has rivetnuts.

And now I have a well aligned and anchored core support to hold the bumper cover on with.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Is there more? Is that is? Are we done? Not even close to done lol.

There are a few more items that tweak the area right by the wheel well. The “hood gap” area.

There’s a foam block that goes up in the corner of the core support right by where the top screw in the wheel well is that holds the bumper cover on.

Here it is:

And it goes here. If it is missing it can make the curvature of the fascia looking down on that area flat as compared to the hood.

Another item are these shims that go between the fascia and the core support, once again up at the top screw at the wheel well opening.


And they go here.

A quick note on what they will do, One, they will slightly alter the arc line of the fascia to the hood. The curvature at the wheel well opening. Secondly, putting them in will tighten the fascia up in front of the headlights. So when setting the headlights have them out. Then once the headlights are set put them in.


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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Now am I done? Can we stop yet?

No, there’s more. Headlights, and the space between the headlights. Unless those areas are fine already. Then you’re done.

So first the headlights. Although they should be done LAST. If you need to do some work on the space between them; the front edge of the hood area, to get the fascia to match up better or close the gap up between the two, do that FIRST.

Not too many pics of things regarding the headlights short of the ones I first showed pointing out the gaps (or not…) around them. But here is a pic of a factory headlight shim. Sure, others will work, but this is the OEM version.

Setting the headlights is kind of annoying. You set them in their spot on the mounting studs and they just want to rock around. Hard to hold them steady to check anything. So here’s what I suggest.

With the bumper cover off, set them on the core support. Hold them down the best you can right on top of the core support, and the mounting studs that have gaps below them, add some shims. Right or wrong. Just to keep them from rocking around. Put a couple nuts on too, but leave them kinda loose.

Then put the fascia back on and you can quickly start to tell what needs to happen. Nudge the headlights forward too while you check things out. If they need to go up then add shims all around. On my car one of them needed to go further in toward the center of the car than the slotted holes in the top of the core support would allow. Some careful work with a Dremel and a 3/8” drum sander into the core support slots took care of that.

Once you have them to your liking; they don’t rock and they fit the opening well in all directions, if you have no other things to adjust then they can be tightened down. Put the fascia on first as they need to be fit against that.

I found the easiest way to one, push them forward against the installed bumper cover, and secondly to tighten them in that position, was while pushing them with one hand from the back, reach in through the access hole in the wheel well and tighten a couple of the nuts. I could on both sides reach 2 nuts per headlight through that opening. Then I pulled the fascia back off and tightened them down.

By the way, the headlight wiring ground goes to a stud welded to the frame. Not any of the headlight mounting studs. Yes, it’s been done, and plastics parts do not make good grounds

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
This last bit is on the space between the headlights. Which like I said, do this first THEN final fit the headlights. Although it doesn’t hurt for the headlights to be in their spot, nor will they necessarily be thrown off by any of this. Just the preferred order if you are doing everything. Which some cars do need Adam :D

There are a few approaches to adjusting the height of the fascia as compared to the hood; one sitting up higher than the other along the front edge.

1) Adjust the bumper cover to the rebar

2) Adjust the rebar

3) Adjust the latches on the hood

4) Adjust the hood stops (not entirely recommended)

The rebar is the green fiberglass piece going across the front. It may have been painted black tho. In either case, rebar is short for reinforcement bar. It moves up and down a little, and in and out with shims. But you can safely take it on and off without affecting any adjustments if you want to.

The bumper cover, or fascia as I call it both, fastens to the rebar in 7 places on top, and 4 in the frontal opening underneath the rebar. You should know this already as you’ve had the cover on and off the car umpteenth times already.

I hate trying to push the xmas tree fasteners in any more than necessary, so I converted the holes along the top of the rebar to use 1/4-20 body bolts.

Special rivetnuts for non metallic materials. An option, but they sure are easier to deal with than plastic push fasteners.

So anyway, back to making the height of the hood match the fascia and so on, the easiest way is with shims. There are usually some right in the middle. I’ve got my rebar set up well and I only need one screw in the middle to hold the cover right, coupled with a few shims to raise the center of the bumper cover to match the hood in the middle. I do however need to put more back in to close the gap up to the hood. And will do so some day.

You can shim all along that front edge if need be. But I’ve never seen a car with them anywhere but in the center.

Pic of the shim along here as needed area:

Close up. You can see the shims under the bolt.

Another means to raise (or lower) the fascia to match the hood is by repositioning the rebar. The factory really didn’t intend for you to do that, but I decided I wanted to raise mine up a tad on one side. It’s not very likely that you’ll need to do this, but it is an option, and possible. And it works.

Here are the brackets that the rebar mounts to, with the rebar removed:

So, I needed to raise that bracket up the desired amount. The studs behind it are fixed, so I slotted the bracket.

Also had to make a slight clearance to the rebar in the same spot so it would go back on the bracket.

This bolt to the bracket, underneath. Just a little coping out needed.


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Another way to make the height of the fascia match the hood, is to raise or lower the hood by adjusting the latches up or down. If you do that though, you’ll also affect the gap at the sides; the “hood gap.”

But here are the latches. Two bolts and they slide up and down. If you decide to do this be sure and make pencil marks in case you want to go back.

Also, screw the bump stops down several turns if you are going down with the latches. Then adjust the bump stops back up once the latches are set.

The easiest way to adjust the bump stops to the latched position of the hood is with the headlights out. You have easy access to them to see if they are touching or not. You can otherwise put a strip of paper on them, close the hood, and then tug on the paper. It should be snug, but not impossible to pull out.

The latches and their adjustment bolts… The bump stop on this one is upper left in the pic.

The final method to adjust the height of the hood to the fascia, and the one I would recommend the least (although it’s probably done the most), is with the bump stops exclusively.

Now sure, if the bump stops are too high and are holding the hood up, lower them of course. I would imagine if you have that situation though, your hood is hard to latch. But if your hood sits low and you want to raise it up to match the fascia, do you really think stressing the fiberglass hood by forcing it up while the latches are trying to hold it down, is a good idea?

Lastly, while testing hood closing and opening, let alone as a regular maintenance item, give the latches a good squirt of WD40 a few times a year. It will make them work remarkably better.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK. One more item to go in the world of things you can adjust.

Still on the rebar, and that is shimming it in and out from the frame.

If the gap between the front edge of the hood and the fascia is too wide, and you just can’t push it up to close it and make it stay with the xmas tree fasteners (or in my case the bolts I converted to), then it may be shimmed out too far.

Behind the rebar brackets are shims.

Bracket removed:

And you may not have noticed this:

If you do move the rebar in or out to adjust that gap, please realize you’ll also change the arc of the bumper cover going across the front of the car. Like in front of the headlights and so on. Probably not much, but something to be aware of and check if you do require that adjustment.

You’re done. Well, at least class is over. I get to have a beer now and you have work to do.

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Thank you for that post I was at a show a few weeks ago and had a lot of trouble closing my hood properly,went to a friend of mine who has a Gen 2 for a number of years and he adjusted the hood for me . Your post was extremely informative I will use it for future reference thanks again.:D

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you Dave!! Excellent writeup. Also, did you have to adjust your hood to the doors? If so, do you have a writeup for that?
As I commented in your thread on that, closing an uneven gap there - one side is wider than the other - is going to be tricky. If you push the hood straight forward or back, you of course adjust the gap on both sides. If you pivot the hood, you throw things off at the front.

I looked at my car and there is a different gap from one side to the other. Not much difference - maybe 1/8" - but regardless, it doesn't bother me. Mainly because I know evening that gap out opens up a hole mess of adjustment worms.

However, if you want to try, it's a simple adjustment. The hood hinges attach to the frame right up front at the latches. Loosen those bolts and push the one side back. Will probably have to loosen the other side to allow it to pivot. Just make sure you trace around them first to mark the location in case you want to go back. And if you like the results, be prepared to scoot the core support over so the bumper cover matches on the sides.
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