loading

So you bought a new car, or in my case, a new grille. It looks nice and clean and free of unsightly holes drilled in it. Then you realize that you live in one of the 31 states that require a front license plate. Before you grab your drill or let the car dealer near your front bumper, consider a cooler, less destructive method... Magnets! This instructable will show you how you can make a removable license plate holder with no drilling necessary.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

You won't need a whole lot for this project, and it certainly won't break the bank either.

Materials

  1. Grille/Bumper - It's best if it is easily removable
  2. License plate holder and license plate - Even though my state requires a front plate plate, I prefer the look of the European license plate, but you should be able to adapt the instructions for a standard US license plate
  3. Masking Tape
  4. 5-Minute Epoxy
  5. Rare Earth Magnets - I found a pack of 30 for only $10 on Amazon. I went with 1/2 x 1/8 in disc magnets
  6. Sandpaper - I used 120 grit
  7. PlastiDip - Color is not important. It will be applied to the back of the grille and license plate holder
  8. Newspaper or other masking material to prevent paint overspray

Tools

  1. Whatever tools you need to remove your grille/bumper

Step 2: Working With Magnets

Before we start, here are a couple tips for using Rare Earth Magnets. First and foremost is be careful. These magnets are super strong and very brittle. You don't want to get your fingertip pinched in between them when they snap together. And try not to let them snap together from too far apart, they can and will break.

Second, as you separate the magnets, it's helpful to mark one side of the magnets so that you can align the poles correctly.

Step 3: Attaching Magnets to the License Plate Frame

Now that the PSA is out of the way, we can start assembling the license plate frame. For regular US license plates, you can probably just mount the magnets in each of the corners. Decide the best placement for your application. Due to the length, I used four columns of two magnets for my Euro plate frame. Mix up your 5-minute epoxy and apply to the desired locations. I have plenty of epoxy so I applied very liberally.

I noticed that the magnets in the center started to repel each other and drift apart, so I put another magnet on the opposite side of the frame behind each one on the front to hold them in place while the epoxy set.

Allow the epoxy to set before proceeding to the next step. It is not necessary to wait the full cure time, just enough to not make a mess.

Step 4: Preparing the Grille

Once the epoxy on the license plate frame has set, we're ready to start on the grille. If your car has a steel bumper, you can probably skip to step 8 since you won't need magnets on the bumper.

I put a strip of masking tape on the back of the license plate frame so that once it is "attached" to the grille, I can move it around without scratching the grille. I also put a towel down on the table so I didn't scratch the grille while I'm working on it.

Now, turn the frame up side down and place the grille on top of it, aligning them close to where you want the frame to sit. Place magnets on the back side of the grille matching each magnet with the ones on the frame. This will "attach" the frame to the grille. You should be able to pick up the grille and frame as one piece.

Measure/eyeball the frame, moving it to where you want the final location. As you move the frame, the magnets on the backside of the grille should move around as well. Once you have the frame located where you want it, apply masking tape around the magnets on the backside of the grille as shown in the second photo.

Step 5: Preparing the Grille, Cont'd

Now we are at the point of no return. Remove the magnets from the back of the grille and set them, and the frame, aside. Take the sand paper and scuff up the surface that you outlined in the previous step. This will give the epoxy something to bond to.

Once you've scuffed up the surface, clean up the dust using a wet paper towel. Soap and water probably wouldn't hurt. Allow the grille to dry.

Step 6: Attaching Magnets to Grille

Re-attach the license plate frame to the grille, just like you did in step 4. The magnets should line up in the now scuffed up spots but look at it from the front to make sure it is exactly where you want it.

Now you can mix up some more epoxy. You'll want to take off one pair of magnets, apply epoxy, then re-place magnets before moving on to the next pair. This way, the frame will hold the magnets exactly where you want them. Be careful not to move the frame until the epoxy sets.

I left the masking tape in place while I applied the epoxy to make it look cleaner. It's not really necessary, but if you do leave it in place, make sure you remove it before the epoxy sets.

Step 7: Preparing for PlastiDip

To prevent the magnets from rusting, I decided to go with a product that has found popularity with the car-modding crowd: PlastiDip.

Full Disclosure - This is the first time I've worked with PlastiDip, so I was expecting overspray to be more of a problem than it was. I masked off the rest of the grille with some paper and masking tape to prevent overspray. PlastiDip creates a rubber coating that can be peeled off, but I figured I'd save cleanup time by using a bit of tape and paper.

Step 8: Applying PlastiDip

I applied PlastiDip to the grille and license plate frame, coating the magnets to protect them from the elements.

I also sprayed the backside of the frame. This was to keep it from scratching the grille when I'm driving around.

Apply 3-4 coats and let it dry for about 4 hours. If you masked off the grille, carefully remove the tape. I recommend taking a sharp knife and cutting along the edge of the tape, otherwise you may start to peel the PlastiDip.

Step 9: Installation

Once the PlastiDip is dry, you're ready to reinstall your grille, slap on your license plate and cruise around.

Just remember to take the plate off if you go through a car wash!

<p>Great idea with the magnets man, well done! Not to mention....I love the plate too! I grew up near Lafayette....and am a fan. Good work!</p>
<p>my TDI Beetle came from a good state that doesn't require front plates, I will have to try this if I get ticketed. nice build</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing this instructable. I have no doubts it will stick and stay.</p><p>My concern is - I won't swear but I'm certain - it is not legal, at least not in Portugal.<br>Here, even screws aren't legal. The the license plate has to be riveted. <br>Probably wise to check with one's traffic authorities before actually doing it. <br>Nevertheless, a good instructable.</p>
<p>Na, da wird einer Spa&szlig; haben beim n&auml;chsten T&Uuml;V!</p>
<p>I would recommend using an indelible marker (Sharpie, etc) to mark around the magnets before removing them to scuff the bumper. Once you remove the magnets and before you scuff the area, use a scribing tool or even just a knife and gouge the lines into the plastic. This way when you sand you will remove the marker lines but not the scribe marks and you will get the magnets EXACTLY back where you want them, no guess work involved. The obvious reason for the marker as an in between step rather than simply scribing around the magnets is... well, they're magnets and most scribing tools are ferrous. :)</p>
<p>Awesome instructable man. I recently purchased a GTI and I've been wanting to get a euro license plate for it but didn't want to drill holes into my flawless front bumper. Here is a picture of my GTI.</p>
<p>Rather than using a sharp knife to cut around and help remove the masking tape, you might want to try and remove it shortly after you are done spraying. Plastidip does not require a lot of drying time so there is little need to wait for it to completely dry between coats. Doing this before it completely dries allows for 2 benefits: (1) eliminates the need for using a sharp object to cut the same surface you sprayed in hopes of protecting, and (2) if one of the edges starts to unintentionally peel off as you remove the masking tape, then tapping it back in place with your finger (and since it isn't completely dry yet) will get it to re-stick to where it needs to, and it will dry along with this new protective surface you added.</p>
<p>This is a very cool idea, but how do you know the magnets are strong <br> enough to hold the plate on even at high speeds. It's not unusual to <br>see speeds of about 85mph on US interstates, and at these speeds <br>aerodynamic forces can get VERY high. How fast have you taken it so <br>far?</p><p>I was also a little bit worried about long-term <br>vibrational scratching as others have noted. I know it wouldn't be <br>ideal, but you could put a protective layer of black Plastidip on the <br>grill contact points as well. And it's still easily removable if you <br>want the clean look.</p>
<p>I got it up to about 90 mph on the way to work today and it's still firmly in place. Speed bumps haven't been a problem either. </p>
<p>Unfortunately in many countries number plates are made of alluminium...</p>
<p>Great write up! You should do one on the proper way to stack poker chips!</p>
<p>Boilermaker!</p>
<p>great work! Thank you!</p>
Golf, el coche de los subnormales
<p>Antes de comentar deber&iacute;as leer la pol&iacute;ticas, estas dicen debes ser positivo y constructivo, y lo que dices esta muy lejos de eso. </p><p>El autor se tomo mucho de su tiempo para compartir su trabajo con la comunidad y seguramente a muchos nos sera muy &uacute;til, Deber&iacute;as respetar eso!</p><p>Que tengas un buen d&iacute;a!</p>
<p>Me das verg&uuml;enza ajena, siempre que hay alg&uacute;n envidioso tiene que ser espa&ntilde;ol, no falla.</p>
<p>Looks good, but pardon my scepticism, what if you jump on hillock or speed hump? Wouldn't the plate dislocate in this case?</p>
<p>Why you still have plastic frames? Throw them away:)</p>
<p>GTI represent! :) Very nice 'ible, I may have to try this on my dub. </p>
<p>ohio requires a front plate and it amazes me how many people use a vanity plate instead. if they ever park downtown, they will get a ticket!</p>
<p>You can get great effects when masking plasti-dip by simply peeling off your tape as soon as you've sprayed your final coat of plasti-dip. That way you can avoid the knife later on.</p>
<p>I'll certainly remember that for next time, thanks</p>
What type of car is it
<p>It's a Volkswagen GTI</p>
<p>I'd add a thin strong double sided tape (which preferrably peels without leaving marks) to the spots where magnets attach because there will still be vibration while driving and the contact points will move a tiny bit from that and with all the dust you lift from the road and such it will eventually leave marks. That is especially true if someone does this on a diesel powered car (not the case here as I see). All that said I like the solution and voted for you.</p>
<p>That's a good idea. I wanted it to be completely removable, though, so double sided tape wasn't an option for me. I had considered attaching some sort of foam or felt to the frame, but decided to use PlastiDip. I still may get some foam later on. </p>
<p>Go Boilers!!</p>
Nice work around to a problem I have been having. This technic I can adapt to my equation. Thank you.
<p>cool stuff .</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Very nice!</p>

About This Instructable

84,735views

134favorites

License:

More by puaerotch:Airplay in the Car No-Holes License Plate Mount Baseball Shift Knob 
Add instructable to: