License plate bolts sheared off - what to do?

christineSeptember 25, 2005

I finally have to change the license plates on my 1994 Honda Civic. Problem was, the bolts were stuck. Heck, they've been there for 10 years, what do you expect?

So I tried some 'liquid wrench' type stuff from the auto place, all it did was make me stink like a mechanic (not that there's anything wrong with that!). So, DH forged ahead and using the vice grips, we managed to get the plates off by tearing off the head of the bolt. Grand!

The problem now becomes, how to attach new plates with the rest of the bolt inside the car? Any ideas? I searched the web for plate holders that aren't necessarily held on with bolts, but didn't find anything. I understand the opportunity for theft, but now what am I supposed to do?

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!


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Usually these bolts are threaded into plastic pieces, so your biggest challenge will be getting what's left of the bolts out without totally ruining the plastic. If this was on a bumper and you had access to the back of the hole, I'd say just tear the plastic out and use a screw, washer and nut to put the new plate on, but I think on a Civic the plate is on the hatchback or back of the trunk lid, so you probably don't have access to the back of the hole.

Given that, the best thing I can think to do is buy a good quality metal boring drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of what's left of the bolt and just drill it out. I have had good luck with the Bosch, DeWalt, and Milwaukee drill bits. You're looking for one bit that'll cost about $5 or $6, not a set of supposedly "metal boring bits" from some off-brand, because usually those won't actually drill through metal.

Be sure to wear eye protection when drilling through metal, and a plug-in electric drill works better than a cordless because the electric ones usually spin faster. Be very careful when you get toward the bottom of what's left of the bolt so the drill bit doesn't shoot through the hole and damage something on the other side.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 5:10PM
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