Irrespective of the make and model, stripped screw hole is the most common problem with the license plate of any car. Fixing a stripped screw hole can be a tricky task and if not done properly it can cause damage to the bumper or the plate itself.
This article summarizes the most effective methods to fix a stripped screw hole of a license plate. In addition to that, you will also get to know some useful tips to avoid this issue in the future.
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What Causes Stripped License Plate Screw Hole?
Stripping of license plate screw holes can occur for a variety of reasons. The specific explanation can only be determined by physically inspecting the license plate’s screw holes.
The three most common reasons behind this problem are discussed below:
- Over Tightening of the Screw:
In most cases, the over-tightening of the screw is the main reason for a stripped hole. Screws of a license plate are tightened either by a manual screwdriver or by using an electric one. In both cases, a little extra force or jerk can strip the screw hole.
A stripped screw hole will fail to hold the license plate in its position, and you may end up with an unaligned or hanging license plate. This usually happens at the dealer or repair shop when the old or dummy license plate of your car is replaced with the new and original license plate.
- Use of Incompatible or Substandard Screw:
A substandard or incompatible screw can also strip the screw hole. Always use original and recommended screws for your license plate and make sure that the strength, length, and diameter of the screw match the screw hole.
Avoid using screws that are made of iron and don’t have a protective layer because they can corrode very quickly. Screws that are made from stainless steel or alloy should be used to tight the license plate.
- Wear and Tear:
Like any other mechanical component, license plate screws are also prone to wear and tear. They remain constantly under pressure and with time little cracks are developed on their thread and surface. This process takes years to complete and, in the end, the result is a stripped screw hole.
How to Fix Stripped Screw Hole?
There are several ways to fix a stripped screw hole, and each method requires certain tools and parts to complete the job.
Another factor that is crucial to determining the right repair is the current condition of your license plate. You may have to visit the mechanic shop in case the stripped screw hole has caused damage to the plate or bumper.
But it is not required in most cases and you can fix this issue by yourself. Below are three of the most effective methods to fix a stripped screw hole and you can choose the one which suits you the best.
Using License Plate Fastener
The simplest way to repair the stripped screw hole will be the use of a license plate fastener. For the majority of vehicles, these fasteners are self-tapping screws with sizes ranging from ¼ inch to ¾ inch.
Placing a bracket or washer under the fastener will prevent the plate from any physical damage. You can also use well nuts instead of simple screws as they are very effective when something needs to be connected to a surface like a license plate in our case. But this won’t work out if the screw hole is completely stripped from the inside.
Another quick solution is the use of epoxy in the screw hole. But always make sure that the epoxy which you are going to use is suitable and compatible with the screw material.
An excessively firm epoxy will provide a tight grip for the screw but due to excessive pressure, it may start to break or crack over time. An overly elastic epoxy won’t break but it will result in a considerably weaker joint. So, you’ll need an epoxy that falls somewhere in between these two extremes, with some flexibility and hardness to offer.
The simplest approach to determine the best-suited proxy is to go to your local hardware store and ask for help in selecting the appropriate epoxy. You can also use Loctite instead of epoxy because it is easy to remove and forms a temporary joint whereas epoxy is going to stick there permanently.
The process involves filling the screw hole with the epoxy resin and allowing it to cure. Then drill a pilot hole a little smaller than the screw and finally, tighten the screw in the pilot hole by using a screwdriver.
Using Larger Bolts/ Rivnuts
Use larger bolts or rivet nuts if the license plate fastener is not working and the screw hole is completely stripped. You will also need a drill machine to complete this task because the license plate hole would not support the larger bolt or rivet nut.
Choose a bolt that is one size bigger than the previously installed bolt. Then by using a drill machine match the license plate hole with the diameter of the larger bolt. Position the license plate hole right above the stripped hole and start screwing the large size bolt.
How to Prevent a Screw Hole from Stripping?
In most cases, stripping of the screw hole happens during the installation and removal of the license plate. Therefore, you should carefully install or remove the license plate of your car and consult a professional if you have never done this before.
Follow the steps mentioned below to prevent a screw hole from stripping:
- Always use a screw with the correct dimensions and strength for the installation of the license plate. Avoid using any substandard or used screw for this purpose.
- Use the right screwdriver for the tightening job – both in terms of size and design.
- To avoid stripping the screw hole, prefer a manual drill over the electric one.
- If an electric driver is necessary, apply enough but not excessive pressure on the driver. An unnecessary swiftness can ruin the whole installation.
- While installing the screw, make sure that the axis of the screw is perfectly aligned with the screw hole.
- Before fastening the screw in the epoxy, drill a pilot hole that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw you are going to use afterward.
Suggested Kits for Fixing Stripped License Plate Screw Hole
There are also many kits available online that can be used to fix a stripped license plate screw hole. You can easily find them on famous e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. Below are a few examples of useful kits.
- Dynamat License Plate Kit: To fix your car’s license plate, this kit uses adhesive instead of screws. Excluding the shipping costs, it is priced at around $15.
- Grimmspeed License Plate Relocation Kit: This kit is best suited for SUVs as it allows you to mount the stripped license plate on the OEM tow hook location. The whole kit cost $45 excluding the shipping costs.
- Dorman License Plate Screw Kit: This kit includes a pack of 4 screws along with their retainers. It can be used to replace stripped screws on your license plate and its cost is only $4 excluding the shipping costs.