Cali requires a Front License Plate...but there is no place to mount!!!

Cali requires a Front License Plate...but there is no place to mount!!!

...Or is there? Sorry if this question has been answered before. I didn't find this topic after a quick scan of the forum.

Not sure about other states/countries but California issues 2 license plates and requires that both front and rear plates be properly displayed! I dropped by the Tesla showroom at Santana Row and the Tesla folks agreed with me that there is no place to mount a front license plate. They also indicated that the front grill work of the Model S Beta in the showroom are final production!

Seems like a silly thing to worry about but drilling holes in my new Sig S isn't something I'm looking forward to doing. I suspect Cali isn't the only state with this requirement. Right?

Again, if this is covered someplace else, just point me to the discussion. Note, I'm also worried that there could be a significant impact to the cars drag coefficient (Cd) and a resulting impact to mileage.

Mycroft | 29 dicembre 2011

A lot of cars have this problem. Corvettes, Firebirds, my SLK, and even Tesla Roadsters.

Generally what's done is the car sold in a state with front plates is that a bracket is installed prior to delivery. You have to actually request that the bracket not be installed (as many Roadster owners have done) in order to avoid it.

Without the bracket, you can either go without a front plate, risking a "fix-it" ticket (after which you'll have to pay a shop to install the bracket), or you can use an alternate solution. There are companies that sell brackets that mount to the tow-hook threaded hole in the bumper.

I'm just going to have the bracket installed at the factory.

XrstalLens | 29 dicembre 2011

Washington State also requires a front plate, so it's a common problem that Tesla will need to solve.

mwu | 29 dicembre 2011

On my first brand new car the salesperson looked out for me by stopping the crew that preps the new cars from drilling holes into my front bumper. This was in South Carolina where there are no front plate requirements, but apparently they still put the bracket up there for the dealership vanity plate. I'd have been a little miffed if they drilled holes in my front bumper to advertise, but I was really glad the sales person prevented that without my asking him to.

If I had to place a front plate on the car I would definitely look into a way to connect it without drilling holes. -- perhaps some kind of bracket or clamp that would wrap around the black plastic nose piece or some other part of the front bumper and a bit of foam padding between the bumper and the plate bracket to protect the finish.

ThomasN | 29 dicembre 2011

With all the fuss about air resistance and efficiency, I'm surprised their isn't an inset with clear lens to cover the licsence plate. Does any car have this?

jkirkebo | 29 dicembre 2011

More or less the rest of the world requires front license plates. In fact, over here in Norway, you would be in more trouble from a missing front license plate than from a missing rear plate.

CIAOPEC | 29 dicembre 2011

A bracket and front license plate is going to ruin the .22 drag coefficient i'm guessing.

I think @ThomasN has the right idea of a flush mounted solution.

I wonder if RFID (or some other technology) will replace the traditional license plate someday. I have 20/20 vision and its pretty damn difficult to read some rear license plates at highway speeds... i wonder if law enforcement is or will lobby for a more up to date identification scheme.

olanmills | 29 dicembre 2011

Front plates are required in my state as well, but I have found that it's not really enforced. I've been "ridin' dirty" for over three years. My guess is that, at least here, if you're nice, the officer won't bother you about it.

Robert.Boston | 29 dicembre 2011

Massachusetts has a curious standard: if you have older plates (green on white), you only got one plate and so only need to display one; otherwise, you need front and back. Aside from the mandatory annual inspection, it won't be easy for a patrolman to notice the lack of a front plate here.

ncn | 29 dicembre 2011

OK, y'know, I'm going to email Tesla about this again. I definitely do not want holes drilled in plastic and aluminum to mount a front license plate bracket and ruin the car's aerodynamics. But NY is a front license plate state too, and they enforce it....

They *should* make an alternate plastic front "black section" which has a flush-mount license plate location. It's been suggested repeatedly at this very forum. But will they?

brianman | 29 dicembre 2011

Please let us know what you find out.

On my to-be-replaced-by-Model-S vehicle, I'm using a bungy-attached license plate holder for the same reason.

I'd love to have something more professional for my S.

Volker.Berlin | 30 dicembre 2011

Not sure about other states/countries but California issues 2 license plates and requires that both front and rear plates be properly displayed! (jd3tm)

No way you'd get very far in Germany without properly mounted license plates both front and rear. As as far as I know that holds for entire Europe.

Again, if this is covered someplace else, just point me to the discussion. (jd3tm)

It is an obvious issue and it has been discussed a couple times, but to no avail so far. Now is definitely the right time to bug Tesla about this detail (again).

A bracket and front license plate is going to ruin the .22 drag coefficient i'm guessing. (ophthodawg)

That's my concern as well.

With all the fuss about air resistance and efficiency, I'm surprised their isn't an inset with clear lens to cover the licsence plate. Does any car have this? (ThomasN)

They *should* make an alternate plastic front "black section" which has a flush-mount license plate location. It's been suggested repeatedly at this very forum. But will they? (ncn)

I completely agree. Let's keep this question in mind until you next talk to your customer advocate. I expect that they will reveal their solution for this problem together with the final interior design, practically at the moment when they sell the first production car.

jkirkebo | 30 dicembre 2011

Covering the front license plate with a clear lens or anything else is very illegal in Norway and will earn you a hefty fine. I suspect it is the same in many other european countries. The reason is probably that a lens, however clear, plays havoc with the ability to photograph the license plate by speed cameras, automated toll booths etc.

Robert.Boston | 30 dicembre 2011

Covering the front license plate with a clear lens or anything else is very illegal in Norway and will earn you a hefty fine.

Interesting -- it's common practice here in Massachusetts to have a clear, hard plastic cover over your plates. Otherwise, repeated washing wears off the reflective paint.

Add my vote for a clear lens section on the front nose-piece, at least in the US.

Leofingal | 30 dicembre 2011

R.B. I think that it is illegal in the US too since the primary benefit of those lenses is to make it much harder to get a laser based speed measurement. The primary return for the laser "radar" measurement is the retro-reflective paint on the license plate. I am not sure if they ever enforce this though.

I am hoping that the nose that everyone hates is going to house the license plates, thuse reducing it's offensiveness! It does seem just about right for the really wide European plates.

TikiMan | 30 dicembre 2011

I have lived in So Cal my whole life, and have never put on my front plate on any cars I have owned, and have never been cited for it. Sure it might give an officer a reason to pull you over, however, chances are, the officer is pulling you over for another reason (DUI check, etc).

It's also illegal to have front-side tinted windows; however, I do that too. I got pulled over a few months back coming out of a restaurant in NPB, and the office said he pulled me over because of my tinted windows, and then VERY QUICKLY asked if I had been drinking... after I follow his flashlight (eye check), he said... have a nice evening (nothing more about the windows).

Expensive cars are usually exempt from the minor infractions (in most cases), unless you appear REALLY suspicious, and or like to drink and drive, thus in that case, you might want to build a special mount-bracket for a front plate.

Mycroft | 30 dicembre 2011

Yeah, use the SeaSucker mounts. :-D

rdgreene | 30 dicembre 2011

Tiki, I've done the same in NorCal (no front plates) and have been cited, but only in conjunction with something else... ie: I pulled you over for going 85 in a 55 zone, so I'm going to give you a warning for that and a ticket for the missing front license plate. (so maybe it had some value there!)

davidcjones | 30 dicembre 2011

@mycroft commented on license plate holders that mount in the screw hole for the tow hook. Has anyone used these?

I wish Tesla had told me of these before they drilled the holes to put the front license plate mount on my Roadster!

engle | 31 dicembre 2011

In NorCal, I've also driven with no front plates for many years like @rdgreene, and have never been pulled over or cited for it. Sounds like if you live in Cali, I wouldn't worry about it. I definitely don't intend to interfere with the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

Douglas3 | 31 dicembre 2011

@davidcjones, yes I have the aftermarket license plate holder that mounts on the tow hook screw. Works great.

Tesla asked me to sign a sheet of paper saying whether to drill and mount the plate holder or not. I said no, and it came with the plate holder in the trunk.

Incidentally, it's legal to use plate covers in Ontario as long as they don't affect readability with photo-radar, red light cameras, or electronic toll systems. I guess that leaves it up to the judgement of the police officer. The government actually sells "approved" covers, although they're a strange yellow tint and I've rarely seen them on cars.

ThomasN | 31 dicembre 2011

The yellow tint increases the contrast between the letters and background

brianman | 31 dicembre 2011

Can you provide a link showing the aftermarket license plate holder you're using? In addition to exploring that option a bit on my own, I'll probably pass it along to Tesla to confirm it's compatible with the Model S.

Schlermie | 31 dicembre 2011

I live in San Jose, and drove without front plates for about 13 years, but (as someone else mentioned), I got pulled over for speeding this year. Instead of issuing the ticket for speeding, they let me off with a warning but issued a fix-it ticket for the missing front plate. I've read in the news that the police in this area have stepped up the fix-it tickets for front plates recently due to their increased use of photo-enforcement.

Although I added a new front plate to my current, aging vehicle, I don't plan to add a front plate to my S. I'm going to ride without one as long as possible. I like the idea about the mount that attaches to the tow hole. If I ever need to add a front plate, I'll probably use one of those to get me through the inspection, and then ditch it.

dborn | 1 gennaio 2012

License plates front and rear are a mandatory requirement in every state in Australia. We all use clear plastic over plates often supplied by the selling dealership and incorporate the dealers name in the margin or frame of the cover. Accordingly, my vote goes for a dedicated recess, with blended clear plates cover to match the existent aerodynamics.

SD in the OC | 1 gennaio 2012

Do not park in the LAX main garages without front plates or you WILL get a ticket. It happened to us twice. We now have resorted to the Parking Spot or Wally Park due to this.

Brian H | 2 gennaio 2012

Did you do it the second time to see if they really meant it?


Mycroft | 2 gennaio 2012

Wow, that LAX enforcement officer needs to be working for the FBI! Talk about dedication and attention to detail!

Brian H | 2 gennaio 2012

Red Green recommends duct tape:!

For pretty much everything!

mscottring | 2 gennaio 2012

I live in northern California. The very first thing I do when I get a new car home is remove the bracket for the front license plate. In my opinion it just wrecks the whole look of the front of the car. So far I've received one fix it ticket, and was actually pulled over JUST for this issue (sitting in a metering lane on ramp).

Teoatawki | 2 gennaio 2012

WA also requires a front plate, but I've never been cited. But now that we've got license plate photo tolling, which started last week on the 520 bridge, that could be changing. And of course speed trap lights and red light cams. I'm starting to wonder why I haven't been stopped.

Peak Oil bruin | 2 gennaio 2012

Might come off sounding like Ron Paul here, but despite all the tax evasion, derivatives and credit default swaps tolerated in the western world today, law abiding citizens must display a front plate. Friendly law enforcement should not have to walk once around your car for identification. Why the the f*ck aren't plates required on all 4 sides?

brianman | 2 gennaio 2012

Maybe just make it part of the paint job... Much better aerodynamics for all vehicles.

EcLectric | 2 gennaio 2012

I've only had one ticket for missing front plate - in the parking garage at SFO. It's amazing that someone bothered to squeeze in between two cars to peek between the concrete wall and my car in order to see I had no front plate! I won't put a front plate on my Model S unless I get another fix-it ticket.

SD in the OC | 2 gennaio 2012

BrianH - I know - funny. Once was my car and another time my wife left her car. I guess we should talk to each other more.

BYT | 2 gennaio 2012

I also live in NorCal and for many years didn't have front plates on my car. However, one evening I parked in a multilevel parking garage, on the 3rd floor in Mountain View front end first and up against the cement wall for about an hour. To my surprise when I returned to my car I had a fixit ticket for the front plate. To this day I am shocked by the whole thing (especially given the conditions the car was parked in). I would rather drive with no front plate and get cited then to blemish the look of the car, but maybe that's just me? :)

Douglas3 | 2 gennaio 2012


Here's a picture of my car with the tow hook plate holder installed (assuming this works...):

The regular mounting puts two holes in the CF above where my plate is located.

Here's a photo someone else posted of the holder without plate:

Douglas3 | 2 gennaio 2012

Hmmm... try that again:

brianman | 2 gennaio 2012

Thanks for the pics. Hopefully something like that will work for the S.

Roblab | 3 gennaio 2012

Last car I owned and ran without a front plate in CA, got a fix it ticket. Used double stick foam tape, glued screw heads in top two holes for effect, affixed the plate, drove to Hiway Patrol and got it checked, walked out, pulled the plate and drove off.

10% of all cars in CA do not have a front plate affixed.

Was behind a pickup today. What with the tow ball, the tow wiring wrapped around it and dangling across the license, and a piece of chain, I was able to only read 3 of the 7 numbers/letters on the REAR plate.

I think I will go without, fix temporarily if caught, and figure my chances are good that it won't happen again. I also don't get tickets for other reasons, so it might improve the odds.

stephenpace | 5 gennaio 2012

@brianman suggested paint:


Texas requires the front plate, but as others suggest, I'm going to try and sneak by for a while. I have an EasyPass, and even if it misses, it uses the rear plate to manually look you up.

BruceR | 5 gennaio 2012

Mandatory in Ohio also. The ironic thing is that it is only a $50 ticket for no front liscense plate displayed, but it is $95 for the local speed trap cameras. Haven't had to pay either in the last 7 years....

vouteb | 5 gennaio 2012

In Europe it is mandatory.

BYT | 5 gennaio 2012

@stephenpace: if you paint them then you don't even have to worry about registration, paint those on every year as well... ;)

stephenpace | 5 gennaio 2012

Ha, true! However, Texas no longer does license stickers due to people stealing them. You now place them on your inside window next to the inspection sticker.

dsm363 | 5 gennaio 2012

Yes. I love that. Two very large stickers that have to be put in the left corner in front of the driver. Really don't understand it.
I wish they'd allow vinyl license plate decals to be put on the front bumper.

Teoatawki | 5 gennaio 2012

Here's a DIY tow hook license plate holder you can put together for about $5. Especially appropriate if you're only going to put it on when you park at LAX or to get through an inspection.

If this is your more permanent solution, I'd suggest you go all out and use LOCTITE® THREADLOCKER BLUE 242 on the bolt that goes into the tow hook spot. This adds around $6 to the project, but you don't want vibrations turning your license plate or letting it drop off. Do NOT use the red version, as this is permanent, and you might actually need the tow hook some sad, distant day.

In case I blew the link,

Brian H | 6 gennaio 2012

Here's a non-DIY solution for 11X more:

brianman | 6 gennaio 2012

Anybody heard anything about tow points on the S? All of the front licens plate no-drilling contraptions that I looked into last night make use of tow points.

cerjor | 6 gennaio 2012

I looked at a beta with the thoughts of the front plate. Across the middle of the grill is a solid piece of what I presume is either fiberglass or aluminum. Seems like that could be remolded to accept a license plate. Then have a clear polycarbonate cover to bring the aerodynamics back it's advertised value. That cover could be removed by the owner if it interfers with any automatic plate reading technology.

Brian H | 8 gennaio 2012

I asked this on another thread, when it occurred to me:
Legal eagle question -- if a CA (or WA, e.g.) driver is out-of-state, and dismounts the front plate holder for the duration, can he be ticketed?