How to Install License Plates on a Car

How to Install License Plates on a Car

  • Post category:Automotive
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Every state in the U.S., and almost every nation on earth, requires some kind of license plate to identify your vehicle. If you buy a new vehicle, move to a new state or, depending on where you live, had your vehicle for more than five years, you may have to install new license plates. Good news for you that putting on your new plates (and taking off your old ones) is something you can do yourself in about 10 minutes.


Use the screwdriver to unscrew the license plate screws by turning the screw to the left. Remove the old plate or placard from the vehicle. Align the top holes on the license plate with the screw holes in the vehicle. While holding the new license plate in place, use the screwdriver to  tighten the screws through the holes in the top of the license plate into the pre-drilled screw holes in the car. Tighten appropriately so your license plate doesn’t come off. Repeat for the opposite side of the vehicle as needed.

What you’ll need

Tools and items

  • New License Plates
  • Phillips Head Screw Driver
  • License Plate Screws 

Note on license plate screws – these are specialized, but standard screws for passenger vehicles. They should come with your car, but if you don’t have them, you can pick up a set at any automotive or hardware store for a few dollars.

It’s really simple, but…

While there is a great deal of standardization when it comes to license plates and how they are installed, there are sometimes variables that come into play.

First, things like motorcycles and utility or boat trailers, while similar, aren’t always exactly the same for installing plates. The license plates can be smaller and located in different places on a trailer.

Secondly, some vehicles can have frames, brackets or covers. Usually, these additional pieces are installed the same way – via the pre-drilled holes in your car for the license plate screws – they don’t always you may need to do a little additional work or have specialty tools to remove or install these pieces. Also, side note, most license plate covers are illegal, law enforcement wants to be able to see all of the identifying marks, including stickers and endorsements, as possible and covers can obstruct their view.

Lastly, some states only require that a rear plate be visible. These steps will help if you want to install a vanity or custom plate on the front of your car, too.

How to install license plates on your car

  1. Gather your new license plates and screw driver
  2. Remove your old license plates by unscrewing the license plates screws attached to your vehicle holding on your existing plates. Keep track of your screws
  3. Take your new license plate and find the holes pre-drilled at the top edge. Line those holes up with the holes from which you removed the licence plate screws from your old plates. 
  4. While holding your plate in place, first hand tighten one screw into the existing holes in your car through the hole at the top edge of your new plates. Do the same with the second plate.
  5. Use the screwdriver to tighten the screws. The screws should be tight enough so that your new plates do not rattle and they will not come loose and fall off.
  6. Repeat for the other side of your vehicle as needed.

Repeat as needed

You did it!

Now you can legally drive and you didn’t need to pay your auto-shop to do something you can do yourself at home.

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