Front license plate blues
November 25, 2013 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way I can get my front license plate on my 97 Honda Civic without using a power drill or going to a mechanic and having him take the bumper off/drill it on?

I bought my car from a friend, and have had no luck getting my front license plate on. The problem is that the holes are too large for regular screws. My friend has no clue how her plates were put on (her dad apparently rigged some weird bolt thing behind it and I practically had to tear her plates off because that bolt wouldn't come off. I can barely see it, even when looking down from when I open the hood).

I live in Maryland, which requires front and back license plates on every car, and I've been fortunate with the one cop who pulled me over. I had the guys who replaced my tire try to get it on, but they tried and couldn't do it, and thought that the bumper would have to be taken off.

The cop said to use a power drill (which I don't have, and the bumper is plastic and I don't have the steadiest hands anyway) and make new holes to get it on.

I'm not keen on the idea of waiting to have a mechanic put it on. Is there anything else I can do to at least temporarily get it on the front bumper? I'm pretty sure it's a $$ ticket next time a cop decides to pull me over.
posted by discopolo to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a newer/different car, but when I moved to a state that required a front plate, I brought it to the dealership and they did it for me. I think they have some kind of bracket thing.

On my old car I think my dad just used a drill, but I am with you, I wouldn't do it myself!
posted by radioamy at 7:08 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Toggle bolt?
posted by holgate at 7:09 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wire ties if you can get to the backside of the bumper to pull them around?
posted by Pantengliopoli at 7:09 PM on November 25, 2013

But yeah, what you probably want is a mounting bracket that has appropriate screws for those holes, and then screw the plate into the bracket.
posted by holgate at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Discussion here suggests that dealers just use big sheet metal screws. If you go to the parts/service bit of a local Honda place, they may give you a couple.
posted by holgate at 7:14 PM on November 25, 2013

I also have a 97 Civic and also had this same problem.

What worked for me (it held for about two years, anyhow) was to get some various sized drywall anchors from Home Depot and mix-n-match until I found one that stayed put.

After that was starting to fail, I mentioned the problem the next time I went in for regularly-scheduled maintenance (not to a dealership) and they took care of it. I don't recall if they charged me for it or not, but if they did it was fairly minimal.
posted by Dilligas at 7:34 PM on November 25, 2013

Go to your local autoparts store. They will have a solution at a reasonable price and they may even put it on for you if you ask and explain you know nothing about the darn thing.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2013

Use this or this.

There is a big plastic nut that snaps into the large hole easily from the front. When you put it the screw, the plastic expands behind the bumper for a secure hold.
posted by JackFlash at 9:00 PM on November 25, 2013

The holes are too big because a license plate is not supposed to screw directly into them. Instead, a license plate frame is supposed to go on first, then the license plate connects to the frame. See the image on this Honda parts page. Not that I recommend getting an official Honda license plate frame for $20. JohnnyGunn's, JackFlash's, and items' solutions are probably better, cheaper, and more readily available.
posted by zsazsa at 11:35 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

honda insight. same problem. honda accessory. they know it's required in some states. see your dealer. it's grounds to stop you so if you are dealing drugs, you are at risk of pullover! i drove here for several YEARS without issue, but did get ticketed (warning) and had to buckle. costs me 1 MPG, I bet. license plates are not aerodynamic. they state does not care.

meanwhile, they can tell and out of stater easily and they like to ticket them more, anyway.
posted by FauxScot at 1:27 AM on November 26, 2013

The license plate frame is the best solution; but if not, then try a couple large metal washers. Go to the nearest hardware store and get four metal washers with diameters larger than the holes in your bumper but with center holes that fit your screws. Put one washer on the screw, slide that through the plate and the bumper, add another washer and then a bolt to hold it all together. Repeat on the other side of the place; two will be enough to hold it in place.
posted by easily confused at 4:12 AM on November 26, 2013

zsazsa has the correct solution.

In lieu of buying one new from the dealer, you might try joining a few Honda owners forums and see if anyone from a non-front-plate state has a complete plate bracket they would part with.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:26 AM on November 26, 2013

Yes, there should be surplus ones here and there that some Honda owner would part with. They're supplied with the car when it's new, even if your state doesn't require front plates.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:15 AM on November 26, 2013

can you just use some zip ties? not super classy, but super cheap. put them through the holes in the license plate and through the holes your friend's dad drilled, and zip!

zip ties solve many problems.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:42 AM on November 26, 2013

Response by poster: Well, no sooner than a few hours after buying zip ties and bracket and tying the plate onto the front bumper with aforementioned zip ties did the car manage to get totaled in a rainy day collision with a massive tank of a car.

So I guess the issue with the plate's been resolved in a sort of tragic way. I think it fell off long before getting rammed because it was not at the scene of the accident.

Now I'll go off to report the missing plate.
posted by discopolo at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

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