Intro: Remove and Repair License Plate Bracket Holes in Your Bumper!
If you buy your new car off the lot, or you purchase a used car in a state that requires front license plate tags, and your home state doesn't, you'll often find that the dealer or previous owner required that a front license plate bracket be installed.
While the need for these is perfectly understood, (state or local laws), they can be annoying if your state doesn't require them, or you don't care to root for a football/baseball team, driving around with the dealers 'complimentary vanity plate' advertising their dealership all over the place, or just have a blank license bracket.
The problem that many people have to deal with is that is when they go to remove the front bracket they find that the dealer/previous owner drilled two to four holes into the front bumper to get that license plate bracket on.
You could take the car to a body shop and spend $200+ on bodywork to have the holes covered up, or you can spend $20 and do what I did.
In this Instructable I'll show you how to cheaply, easily and tastefully get rid of the front license plate bracket and fill in the holes that our friends at the dealership have made. It's not a complete smooth cover up, but you will barely notice it.
NOTE: I take no responsibility for damage to your car. If you are uncomfortable doing this Instructable, have a friend who is well versed in tools do it for you, or don't do it at all&
(2-4) 5/16 Nylon Plugs (black or white, your choice) available at Ace Hardware, HD or Lowes.
(1) Dupli-Color Touch-Up paint, which matches your vehicles' color (see http://www.duplicolor.com/duplicolor/step1.php.)
(1) Scrap Piece of wood
Liquid Nails (optional)
1/8" Drill Bit (optional)
5/16" Drill Bit
Razor Blade or Knife
Step 1: Remove the Bracket!
This is probably the most difficult step. Depending upon how your bracket was attached, you will need to do one of two things:
1. If the bracket is attached via screws or bolts, use a screwdriver or socket wrench to remove them. This should release the bracket from the car.
2.If the bracket is attached by what appears to be a rivet (see photo), then it will need to be drilled out. This is a fairly easy process, in which you use a 1/8" or larger drill bit directly into the center of the rivet, using pressure to allow it to go all the way through. Once you are all the way through, the rivets should be disconnected from each side, and you should be able to remove the bracket.
Finally, with the bracket removed, you will want to clean the area, to get rid of any dirt and dust. A wet cloth or paper towel should work just fine. If need be, use some windows cleaner to get additional grime.
Step 2: Make Bigger Holes!
We are going to be inserting 5/16" nylon plugs to fill the holes, so we need to make sure that the holes in the bumper are 5/16" also. Most likely the original holes are smaller, and we'll need to drill the bring the existing holes up to spec.
Using your 5/16" bit and drill, bore out the existing holes so that they are nice and clean. If there is any plastic bits still hanging on, use a blade or knife to clean up the hole by rotating it inside the hole (not too much) to make it smooth.
NOTE: If this is for a pickup truck of SUV with a metal/chrome bumper, use a drill bit that is rated for metal. Also, I recommend leaving the nylon plugs black, so you can skip steps 3-4.
Step 3: Make a Plug Holder!
In order to properly paint the nylon plugs, you will need to take a scrap piece of wood and drill holes through it to place your plugs. Using the same 5/16" drill bit, drill 4 holes into the scrap wood (all the way through). Clean off any splinters with the knife, if need be.
Press the four nylon plugs into the holes in the wood, about 3/4 of the way in. Don't press them in all the way. You need easy access to the edges.
Step 4: Paint!
Shake the HELL out of the Touch Up paint tube. 1 minute is good.
Using the Dupli-Color Touch Up paint, use the brush to put on a LIGHT coat of paint to each plug, paying special attention to the edges. You will want to wipe off any excess paint on the edge of the paint tube, or the wood, so that you don't glob it on. Paint it quickly and don't go over your existing paint strokes, otherwise you will end up with streaks in the paint.
Wait 24 hours, then apply another coat. This one can be A BIT more liberal, but not much. This is your topcoat, so make sure all the edges are covered and it is smooth.
Wait another 24 hours before removing the plugs...
NOTE: Dont be surprised if the paint looks 'swirly'. This will settle and even out with drying time.
Step 5: Plug 'em In.
CAREFULLY remove the plugs from the wood. They should be dry because you let them for 24 hours right? Right. If need be, use a pen or screwdriver to push them up from the bottom.
Take them to the car, and press them into the holes that you drilled into the bumper. IF YOU WANT, you can put some Liquid Nails on the END of the plug, but I DO NOT recommend it, because it could smear onto the car, and you will never get it off. Otherwise, just pressing the plugs in should lock them into place, and leave barely noticeable 'bumps' on the bumper where the holes used to be.
Congratulations, you just saved yourself at least $200 and got rid of the nasty bumper license plate bracket!
I found that my local Ace hardware store had better plugs that the Lowes version. They were lower profile and didn't have rounded edges. They were more flush.
The nylon plugs are usually found in the 'special hardware' section, which is usually a bunch of drawers with various types of hardware in them. ASK if you can't find them.
If you need to locate the manufacturers paint code for your car, use the Dupli-Color website http://www.duplicolor.com/duplicolor/step1.php. It will tell you in the leftmost column, what the manufacturer paint code is. You can then take the paint code to AutoZone, Pep Boys or OReilly Auto Parts to get the paint tube.