What Size Screws For License Plates
Whether you just purchased a new car, moved to a new state, or got a fun new vanity plate you want to show off, you need some screws for a new license plate. Unfortunately, the screws on license plates are not a simple singular size across the board. In fact, most brands tend to use different screw types and sizes.
So, when you need to get new screws for your license plate, you are likely to wonder exactly what size you need to buy to fit your particular vehicle.
While there are a variety of license plate screws, the standard license plate screw measures 1/4-14/3/4 inch. This means a screw with 1/4 inch threaded diameter, 3/4 inch in length and 14 threads per screw. While different automobile manufacturers use unique license plate screw sizes, there are some universal screw types, like some snug fasteners, that fit many license plate screw holes.
License plate screws need replacing every once in a while. This is especially true when you get a brand new plate. The last thing you want is to re-use a rusty old screw on a new license plate, especially when new screws are so inexpensive.
But it’s not the price that is the problem, it’s the size. As you prepare to purchase screws for your license plate, make sure you get the right ones. This article will go over the different screw types for license plates, where to get them and even how to install them once you purchase them.
Understanding License Plate Screws And Their Typical Sizes
Purchasing screws is often not as easy as just picking up a tiny screw and hoping it works. You can’t just use anything. In fact, in some states, it is required that you use a screw or securing device that is not easily removable. This helps prevent the quick removal of license plates. So, now that you know the importance of using the right tools, you probably want to know exactly what those tools are.
The typical screw size for license plates is 1/4-14/x3/4 inch. But what do all those numbers and fractions mean? Let’s break this down so you can understand the size screw needed.
The 1/4 stands for the thread diameter. This means the threading that sticks out of the screw. This number is important because it makes sure there is enough thread to keep the screw (and in turn the license plate) secure. It also makes sure there isn’t so much thread that the screw can’t fit in the hole.
The 14 number in the middle stands for the number of threads on each screw. This also refers to the length. This number is important because too few threads and the screw is likely not going to be able to do its job. Too many threads can also cause some issues.
The 3/4 inch number at the end is the length of the screw. This means the screw should be 3/4 inch long. Don’t go too short or too long, as this could cause several different issues.
The Most Common Screw Types For License Plates
There are all sorts of specific screw sizes and types that manufacturers want you to use for their specific car brands. The good news is, there are only a few sizes and types you generally have to worry about. Most car brands use screw sizes 1/4-14-3/4. There are also only a handful of screw shapes used as well.
One thing you need to note is whether or not your vehicle has a metal retainer area for the license plate screws. If it does, you need to be extra careful in selecting the correct size. Choosing the wrong size could damage this metal retainer and make the screws less effective. So, make sure you consult your manual or car manufacturer when you notice these metal retainers.
The list below breaks down the most common types of screws you will encounter on car license plates.
- Slotted Hex Washer Head Screw
- Phillips Pan Head Screw
- Phillips Truss Head Screw
- Slotted Pan Head Screw
- Slotted Truss Head Screw
What Are Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Screws?
As you begin your search to find out what size screw you need for your license plate, you have most likely come across “OEM” screws. You also probably want to know what that means. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturers. This is a term used when a screw or other specific tool is made specifically to specification for a certain car brand.
In other words, the screw is a unique size, and made for an exact purpose, and for the exact brand. If your car takes these OEM screws, the easiest option for you is to purchase your screws directly from the car manufacturer. You can also find many OEM screws at hardware stores, under the specific car type. In many cases, car brands have screw types you can easily find anywhere if you need them right away.
Popular Car Brands And Their License Plate Screw Sizes
If you want to know the most common type of screw for your automobile, we have listed the most common types for many different popular car manufacturers. Keep in mind, if your car was made in the United States, the screw measurements will be in inches, using the imperial system. If, however, it was made abroad, the measurements are in millimeters using the metric system.
Hondas are not made in the U.S. but they use imperial screws for their license plates in the U.S. The standard Honda screws are 1/4-14-3/4”.
Toyota uses metric screws, with their standard being M6-1.0x25mm.
Ford uses the simple standard 1/4”x3/4” screw for their motor vehicles.
This luxury car brand uses 6.3mmx25mm screws for its license plates.
Nissan also uses imperial screws in the “standard” 1/4-14-3/4” size.
Mitsubishi’s standard screw size is M6-1.0-10mm.
The BMW is a European car and therefore uses metric screws and hardware. Their standard license plate screw is the M4.8x16mm screw.
This German car manufacturer uses 6mmX12mm screws for its license plates.
Audi uses metric screws for their license plates as well, being a European dealer. Their most common screw type is the M6x1.0x16mm screws.
Acura’s use the metric system for their license plate screws. The most common screw type for Acura license plates is either M6-1-16mm or the M6-1-20mm screw.
Chevy is an American brand and uses the imperial system. Their standard license plate screw is the #14-3/4” screw.
Volkswagen And Volvo
These both use metric screws in the M6-1.0x16mm size.
Tesla uses metric screws sized M5-0.8x8mm
Finding A One-Size-Fits-All Screw For Your License Plate
Now that you understand how complex license plate screw sizes can get, you might wonder if there is any way to simplify this a bit. The answer is – maybe. There is some good news on the simplification front. Many car manufacturers have screws and retainers sized to fit “universal sized” screws.
There are several brands that market themselves as these universal fasteners. They are built to fit a large number of different car types. While they might not fit some specialty brands with specific metal retainers, they do fit a wide variety of car types. These are good to have on hand, especially if you have a few car models in your driveway.
The best option is to choose one of these fasteners from a retailer, and ensure they work with your car type. If you are purchasing them from an online retailer, there should be a list of car models they work with. There should also be information on their label if you purchase them from an auto supply shop in a pinch.
Where You Can Buy Screws For License Plates
Now that you have a better idea as to the size screw you need, you likely want to know where you can find these screws. You have several options to choose from. These range from mom and pop type stores all the way to international online retailers. We have listed the best and most popular places to look for license plate screws below.
Buy License Plate Screws From An Online Retailer
Often, the best place for license plate screws is an online retailer like Amazon. When you purchase license plate screws from an online retailer, you have several advantages. For one, you can make sure the screws are correct for your exact car. In the details of the screws, it usually lists all the car models the screws you are looking at work with. This should give you an added reassurance when purchasing the screws.
Another benefit to using an online retailer is the user reviews and feedback. You can check the star ratings to see a quick view of what people are saying. You can also search through the reviews for some specific feedback to make sure the license plate screws you are purchasing are high quality.
Buy License Plate Screws At An Auto Supply Store
Auto supply stores tend to have a wide variety of license plate screws as well. In fact, in many cases they have screws and other fasteners separated by make and model. This makes looking at a rack of screws much easier, as you just need to look at the rack and find your type of car. This is a good option if you need them right away, as auto supply stores are plentiful.
Buy License Plate Screws From Your Car’s Manufacturer Or Dealership
If you have a car that is under warranty, or one that requires very specific screws, you can also check with the automobile manufacturer or the dealership. They might be able to sell you the specific screws you need. This is particularly true if you require OEM screws that are not easily replaceable. Keep in mind this is often the most expensive route.
How To Install And Secure License Plate Using Screws
Step One: Remove Old License Plate And Screws
The first step to screwing in your license plate with your new and correct screws is to remove the old screws, and the license plate itself. It is best to reserve the old screws to compare them with the new ones. This helps verify you purchased the correct screws. Clean the area around the license plate, since it is often hidden from sight and needs washing.
Step Two: Check Holes And Mounting Area For Damage
Most importantly, check the holes and the plate for any signs of rust. Use a rust-remover and give the area a good cleaning. You don’t want any corrosion in this area as it can affect the ability of your screws to properly grip and secure the plate.
Step Three: Align Your License Plate With The Holes
If you have a frame for your license plate, place the license plate inside it. Use the frame to correctly align the plate and frame to the holes. Make sure everything lines up correctly before inserting the screw.
Step Four: Test The Screw To Ensure It Fits Correctly
Make sure you check the screws to make sure they are the correct size and type. You can reference the old screws and use your eyes. Or you can also test one screw to make sure it appears to be the right size and the threads feel correct.
Step Five: Use Appropriate Screws And Screwdriver To Drive In Screws
Now you can finally put the new screws to use. Make sure you use the appropriate screwdriver or hex wrench for the job. Ensure each screw is all the way in and secured tightly, without stripping the screws themselves.
Step Six: Ensure Plate Is Securely Fastened And Screws Are Tight
Before walking away, give a bit of a tug and make sure the license plate feels secure. Ensure that all the screws are snug in place and the license plate is not loose at all.
Summing Up What Size Screws You Need For License Plates
As you prepare to install a new license plate, you should know that not all license plates use the same screws. Different car brands often require different screw types and sizes. This is particularly true if the car has a metal retainer, and may vary if the car was made in the U.S. or abroad.
Still, there are some standards to know. In general the average screw size for license plates is 1/4-14/3/4.
Check with your manufacturer to see if you require specialty screws. There are also some one size fits all faster options you can choose from as well if you can’t seem to find the right size.
Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.
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