A momentary lapse in my normally focused driving resulted in slamming my otherwise perfect ’09 Titan backwards into a heavy-duty steel pole.  The bumper was crumpled just to the left of the center step and the tailgate also got a nice big dent.  Both of these issues were very easy, albeit expensive, to fix.  I simply ordered a new bumper from Nissan, which came unpainted.  I dropped it and the tailgate off at a local body-shop, who had them back to me in a couple days.

The real challenge was the damage done to the underlying steel step that is integral to the trailer hitch.  This piece is welded solid to the hitch, and at about 3/16″ thick, impossible to straighten out.  So my solution; find a near matching piece of steel to replace the damaged portion.  Fortunately the piece was a fairly standard 4″ wide.  I stopped at a local steel building supply, and they happened to have a 2×4″ piece of scrap steel for a couple dollars.

It took quite a bit of grinding, a cutoff wheel, and a pry bar to get the old piece off the hitch.

Grinding and cutting off damaged bumper. Old step removed.

Then on to duplicating the step using the scrap steel.  The piece I used was slightly thinner (~1/8″) but still plenty strong.  It was still a challenge to cut, as I have no miter saw or plasma cutter.  I used a pneumatic cutoff wheel and a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade.  Then I clamped the piece in place, measured it to make sure I had the same placement as the original.  Tacked it into place with the MIG and test fit the plastic cover before burning it in.

New step cut out Fitting fabbed step

I coated everything with semi-gloss black.  I now had to duplicate the four odd-shaped holes that the plastic cover clips into.  I used a 1″ hole-saw, then shaped them to fit using a carbide bit and the pneumatic die-grinder.

New and old step next to eachother.  Cutting holes into new step.

Before installing the plastic covers, I stuck a bead of butyl-tape down.  This isn’t required, but it should keep the plastic cover from riding up and down.  The original pieces had rubbed the paint from doing this.  Everything clips into place, with no signs of any damage.  Still need to install the tailgate, but I’m planning on installing a lock actuator on it first.  See that in a future post.

Butyl tape on new bumper Bumper finished


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