License Plate Screw Size: Guide to Find Fit for Your Car

Discover everything you need to know about license plate screw size. Learn how to choose, replace, and where to buy the best screws for your car.

What is License Plate Screw Size?

License plate screw size refers to the specific dimensions of screws used to attach a license plate to a vehicle. These screws need to be of the right size to fit the pre-drilled holes in the vehicle’s license plate bracket. Using the correct size prevents issues such as loose plates, stripped threads, or even damage to your vehicle.

Why License Plate Screw Size Matters

Secure Attachment

The primary function of license plate screws is to keep your license plate securely attached to your vehicle. If the screws are too short, they may not hold the plate tightly, leading to a loose plate that can rattle or fall off.

Avoiding Damage

Using screws that are too long or too wide can damage the mounting holes in your vehicle. This can lead to costly repairs or the need for special mounting solutions.

Legal Compliance

A securely attached license plate is not just about aesthetics; it’s also a legal requirement in many areas. Ensuring your plate is properly mounted helps you avoid fines or penalties.

Standard License Plate Screw Sizes

Common Sizes

The most common license plate screw sizes are:

  • 1/4-14-3/4 inch: This size is commonly used in American cars.
  • M6-1.0 x 16mm: This metric size is often found in European and Asian cars.
  • M5-.8 x 16mm: Another metric size, used in various vehicles worldwide.
Close-up photo of M8 x1.25 screw.
Close-up photo of M8 x1.25 screw.

Vehicle-Specific Sizes

While these are standard sizes, some vehicles may have unique requirements. Always check your vehicle’s manual or consult with a professional to ensure you’re getting the right size.

How to Measure License Plate Screw Size

Tools Needed

To measure the license plate screw size, you’ll need:

  • A caliper or a ruler
  • A thread gauge (optional but helpful)

Measuring Steps

  1. Diameter: Measure the diameter of the screw’s shaft. This is typically measured in inches for American screws and millimeters for metric screws.
  2. Length: Measure the length of the screw from the base of the head to the tip.
  3. Thread Pitch: If you have a thread gauge, measure the thread pitch, which is the distance between threads.

Tips for Accuracy

  • Make sure the screw is clean and free from rust or debris for an accurate measurement.
  • Measure twice to ensure precision.

Where to Buy Screws for License Plates?

Auto Parts Stores

Local auto parts stores like AutoZone, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts carry a variety of license plate screws suitable for different vehicle makes and models. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can help you find the correct screws.

Hardware Stores

Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s also stock a selection of screws that can be used for license plates. While these may not be vehicle-specific, they can be a good option if you know the exact size you need.

Online Retailers

Websites such as Amazon, eBay, and specialized auto parts websites offer a wide range of license plate screws. Online shopping provides the convenience of comparing different products and prices, and often includes customer reviews to help guide your purchase.


If you prefer OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts, visiting your vehicle’s dealership can ensure you get the exact screws designed for your car model. This can be particularly useful for newer or less common vehicles.

Best Types of License Plate Screws

Stainless Steel Screws

Stainless steel screws are highly resistant to rust and corrosion, making them an excellent choice for license plates. They provide durability and longevity, especially in areas with harsh weather conditions.

Zinc-Coated Screws

Zinc-coated screws offer good resistance to rust and corrosion at a lower cost than stainless steel. They are a reliable choice for most vehicles and environments.

Nylon Screws

For a lightweight and corrosion-resistant option, nylon screws can be used. These are less common but can be suitable for certain applications, particularly in areas where metal corrosion is a significant concern.

Security Screws

To prevent theft, consider using security screws. These screws require a special tool for installation and removal, making it difficult for anyone to remove your license plate without the proper equipment.

Drill Bit for License Plate Screws

Choosing the Right Drill Bit

When installing new license plate screws, using the correct drill bit is essential to avoid damaging your vehicle’s mounting bracket. For most standard screws, a 3/16″ drill bit works well, but always verify the screw’s diameter to match your drill bit size.

Drilling Tips

  • Pre-Drill Holes: If the holes are not pre-drilled, use a smaller bit to create a pilot hole before using the full-size bit.
  • Drill Slowly: Apply gentle pressure and drill slowly to avoid cracking or damaging the mounting surface.
  • Use Lubrication: For metal brackets, a drop of oil on the drill bit can make the process smoother and protect the bit from overheating.

How to Install License Plate Screws

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Align the Plate: Position the license plate over the mounting holes on your vehicle.
  2. Insert Screws: Place the screws through the license plate and into the mounting bracket.
  3. Tighten Screws: Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws securely. Avoid over-tightening, which can strip the threads or crack the plate.
  4. Check Security: Ensure the plate is firmly attached and doesn’t move.
Technician changing car plate number in service center
Technician changing car plate number in service center

Tips for Proper Installation

  • Use washers if necessary to distribute the pressure and prevent the screws from digging into the plate.
  • If using security screws, keep the special tool in a safe place for future use.

How to Remove Stuck License Plate Screws

Tools Needed

  • Penetrating oil (e.g., WD-40)
  • Screwdriver or screw extractor tool
  • Pliers (optional)

Steps to Remove

  1. Apply Penetrating Oil: Spray the stuck screw with penetrating oil and let it sit for a few minutes to loosen rust and debris.
  2. Use Screwdriver: Attempt to turn the screw counterclockwise with a screwdriver. Apply steady pressure to avoid stripping the screw head.
  3. Use Screw Extractor: If the screw doesn’t budge, use a screw extractor tool. Follow the tool’s instructions to remove the screw.
  4. Pliers for Extra Grip: If the head is stripped, use pliers to grip and turn the screw.

Preventing Future Issues

  • Regularly check and tighten your license plate screws.
  • Apply a small amount of anti-seize lubricant to the threads before installation to prevent rust and make future removal easier.

How to Replace License Plate Screws

Steps to Replace

  1. Remove Old Screws: Use a screwdriver to remove the existing screws from the license plate.
  2. Inspect Holes: Check the mounting holes for damage or rust. Clean or repair as necessary.
  3. Insert New Screws: Align the license plate and insert the new screws into the holes.
  4. Tighten Securely: Tighten the screws with a screwdriver, ensuring they are secure but not over-tightened.

Tips for Replacing Screws

  • Choose screws made of durable materials like stainless steel or zinc-coated steel.
  • Consider using security screws for added protection against theft.

License Plate Screw Materials

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel screws are the best choice for their excellent resistance to rust and corrosion. They are durable and suitable for all weather conditions.

Zinc-Coated Steel

Zinc-coated steel screws offer good protection against rust at a more affordable price than stainless steel. They are a solid option for most vehicles.


Brass screws are resistant to corrosion and have a distinctive gold appearance. However, they are softer than steel and may not be as durable in high-stress applications.


Nylon screws are lightweight and completely resistant to rust and corrosion. They are ideal for specific applications where metal screws may not be suitable.

License Plate Screw Security

Anti-Theft Screws

Anti-theft screws are designed to prevent unauthorized removal of your license plate. These screws require a special tool for installation and removal, which makes it difficult for thieves to steal your plate.

Types of Security Screws

  • Torx Screws with Pin: These screws have a star-shaped pattern with a pin in the center, requiring a matching tool.
  • Hex Screws with Pin: Similar to Torx screws but with a hexagonal pattern.
  • Clutch Head Screws: These screws can be turned in only one direction, making them difficult to remove without the right tool.

Installation Tips

  • Ensure you have the correct tool for the security screws you choose.
  • Keep the tool in a safe place for future use.

Custom License Plate Screw Options

Decorative Screws

Custom screws can add a personal touch to your vehicle. Options include colored screws, decorative caps, and screws with logos or designs.

Benefits of Custom Screws

  • Aesthetics: Enhance the look of your license plate with unique designs and colors.
  • Personalization: Show off your personality or brand with custom logos or emblems.
  • Durability: Many custom screws are made from high-quality materials for added durability.

Where to Buy Custom Screws

Custom screws can be found at specialty auto parts stores, online retailers, or through custom manufacturing companies.

Common Problems with License Plate Screws

Rust and Corrosion

Over time, license plate screws can rust and corrode, making them difficult to remove and potentially damaging your vehicle.

Prevention Tips

  • Use stainless steel or zinc-coated screws to resist rust.
  • Apply a small amount of anti-seize lubricant during installation.

Stripped Threads

Stripped threads occur when screws are over-tightened or cross-threaded, making it difficult to secure the license plate.

Prevention Tips

  • Tighten screws by hand to avoid over-tightening.
  • Ensure screws are aligned properly before tightening.

Loose Screws

Vibration and movement can cause screws to loosen over time, resulting in a rattling license plate.

Prevention Tips

  • Regularly check and tighten your license plate screws.
  • Use lock washers or thread-locking compound to secure screws.

Maintaining Your License Plate Screws

Regular Inspection

Inspect your license plate screws regularly for signs of rust, corrosion, or loosening. Replace any damaged screws promptly to ensure your plate stays securely attached.


Keep the screws and mounting area clean to prevent dirt and grime buildup. This can help prevent rust and make it easier to check the condition of the screws.

Replacement Schedule

Even high-quality screws can wear out over time. Consider replacing your license plate screws every few years, especially if you live in an area with harsh weather conditions.


License plate screws are a small but vital component in keeping your license plate secure. Ensuring you have the correct license plate screw size and maintaining their condition is essential for both vehicle safety and aesthetics. Next time you need to replace your screws, make sure to get the right ones from a reputable auto parts store. By following the guidelines in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure your license plate remains securely and attractively attached to your vehicle.

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