No J bolts for front plates; any other ideas?

No J bolts for front plates; any other ideas?

I actually marked the video about how to attach a front plate with J Bolts in my favorites, in case I ever had the need to put my front plate on. I thought that it would be a snap to take care of...guess again. During Memorial Day weekend, the cops had a "Blitz" campaign where they were pulling over anyone for the smallest infraction. Guess what? The guy who pulled me over was very nice and did not give me a ticket, but it did give me pause.

I live in a two license plate state, but have not been able to find "J" bolts anywhere; I have invested over five hours in various hardware and auto shops, and have not been able to find another solution to attaching the front plate. I tried molly screws--(Brian, I'm sure that's not how it's spelled, but honestly, I don't care.)but either the screw part wasn't long enough or the molly part was too big to fit through the grille. I tried flex ties and even just metal wire, but that just looked too unbelievably redneck-awful. I would welcome hearing other suggestions. I would really like to avoid having to drill the nose cone; for one thing, I live at least three hours away from the nearest service center, and it's not the kind of thing that I would call on a ranger to do unless they were here to fix something else.

GettingOldFast | 30 mei 2013

I got my J bolts at OSH, Orchard Supply Hardware, which is owned by Sears and therefore fairly ubiquitous. And I used window (door?) insulation tape for padding the contact points with the car. I think the bolts were four inches long, came with the nuts, and only cost about $1.59 or so. I had to cut them down with my Dremel, something I am VERY proud that I was able to do, even though I didn't realize that I should have been wearing protective goggles until 3/4 of the way through the cutting.

carlk | 30 mei 2013

You have access of a 3D printer?

Short of that how about just tie it with a steel wire?

celtrog | 30 mei 2013

I bet the service center old help out

akikiki | 30 mei 2013

There's more than one "bolt" solution. Go to a hardware store and check out the brass flat head bolts that you find in the toliet seat installation area. There are different lenths. You can easily cut the 3" ones so they don't stick out past the mounting plate. The grill is soft plastic. You can use needle nose pliers to carefully spread a hole larger to slip the head of the toliet bolt through. I used this for a while.

Then I went to Amazon and bought the Show-N-Hide a plate mount. I used the manual versus the electric version. Mounts under the lower plastic pan. It lowers your front height, so its a good idea to ease over steep driveways/curbs. But looks great, can be hidden and makes washing the front of the car easier.

mcx-sea | 30 mei 2013

Use 5/16" x 3" J-bolts. Exactly the right length, no trimming needed.

Use the nuts that come with the J-bolt behind the backing plate. Use 5/16 Nylock nuts on the front. tighten those until they are flush with the ends of the bolts. Then use an open end wrench to tighten the other nuts from behind. This allows air to flow behind the backing plate.

mcx-sea | 30 mei 2013

The 3" J-bolts are available on

DR R | 31 mei 2013

plastic zip-ties worked just fine....easy to of the install were on the forum a few months ago...

spazthecat | 31 mei 2013


You could use a toggle bolt. They make plastic ones. Might be gentler than using metal. You also don't have to worry about cutting the bolt as long as it isn't crazy long.


herkimer | 31 mei 2013

I found the correct J-bolts at Home Depot. They were called "clothes line hooks." Odd name but they work just as in the video.

Andrew_OH_S60andS70D | 31 mei 2013

I live in Ohio and this is the fastener I used:
It was very easy to install, and the plate can be adjusted up or down and tilted for a perfect fit. There are efforts here to repeal the requirement for front plates. If that happens, I just have to remove two screws from the bottom of the front and there will be no trace a plate was ever there.

KenG | 31 mei 2013

Leave your rear plate off, and keep the temp registration in the front window, and you won't need to put the front plate on. Since the car looks like it's from the future, meter maids and cops will think it's new for years.

bsimoes | 31 mei 2013

Thank you all for the suggestions. It is good news to hear that Lowe's, Home Depot or Sears have J hooks. Those stores are an hour away from where I live. I had tried local stores and was getting discouraged, but I can and do go into the "city" fairly often, so it won't be a problem. It is very helpful to know the dimensions to be looking for so that I won't have to saw any length off.

Literally, I sat outside of a hardware store yesterday for hours, trying various combinations in incredible heat and was going crazy trying to solve a problem that should not have been a problem...if you know what I mean.

This forum is so helpful and supportive. Again, Thanks. Barb

hfcolvin | 31 mei 2013

When I hear something I need is an hour away, I think "awesome, time for a drive". Zip tie method has worked fine for me. I just zip tied each side of the holder, a little trial and error to get it centered right, but took about 15 minutes all told. I was going to use a butterfly drywall anchor, but the plastic base underneath the grill prevented this; if the butterfly comes off it will just rattle around down there.

Search for j-bolts on Amazon if you know the size you need and get them delivered to your door.

cerjor | 11 juli 2013

I attached my front plate with wire ties but the material I used to protect the paint looked like crap. Since I wanted to take the plate off and put it back on a couple times a year, I designed an L-shaped bracket that bolts on under the car. Nothing is visible when the plates are off and it looks ok when their on. It's easy to remove and doesn't block the air flow to the radiator.

Warkovision | 11 juli 2013

There's a YouTube out there that shows a fellow using black plastic cable ties which appeals to me as a relatively harmless fashion to attach the front license plate.

Nzywj9 | 11 juli 2013

Honestly, it's refreshing to see such a helpful and supportive group of owners related to this issue. I have to say that I'm very surprised at all of your attitudes towards this problem. I am seriously thinking about buying a model S and use this forum as a tool to better understand the best aspects of the car along with the areas of opportunity. But this particular problem really shouldn't exist at all for a car of it's price and class. If I had to spend that kind of time, effort, and/or trade off a truly finished look (with zip ties), I would be unbelievably frustrated. I know they are working out some bugs and there will be some problems, but this is really basic. Anyway, I'm still a huge fan, but feel like this is a basic fundamental part of a new vehicle that I shouldn't have to spend my time on.

Bob W | 11 juli 2013

Even "UV resistant" black plastic cables ties can deteriorate in a few years when exposed to the sun and the elements, becoming very brittle, easy to break with your fingers. Maybe if you changed them annually you would be OK.

jbunn | 11 juli 2013

Use an eyebolt, and cut it with a hacksaw into a j bolt. Takes seconds. Eyebolts are readily available.

s.fiorelli | 12 juli 2013

I took my plate to a shop with sheet metal equipment (mine!) and had them use the shear to remove the lip from the plate, including using a radius shear to re-round the corners. Then I used a belt sander to make sure the edges were sanded to a bevel so they would not touch anything. Then I used double sided tape to install it just under the "T" logo on the plastic portion of the bumper. It looks very clean with the reduced plate size. No one notices the plate alteration. It is arguably legal (or illegal) but I do not think it will ever get to that point as it appears legal. No holes, no bolts and no frame. I can take an iPhone photo and post it if someone tells me how.

buster88 | 12 juli 2013

I am confused by this topic. I still have my temporary registration, so I haven't had to mount a front plate yet. But...when I picked up my MS at the service center (Costa Mesa, CA), there was a frame in the frunk for the front mount and they told me to bring it back when the permanent plates arrived and they would mount it for me. This seems like a pretty simple solution. Is there an issue with the way Tesla mounts the front plate/frame? I realize that not everyone lives in the vicinity of a service center, but what am I missing here?

Paul Koning | 12 juli 2013

Lots of options. Find a place that sells J-bolts. One option is McMaster-Carr, a giant industrial supplies mail order outfit. Look for "J-hook anchor bolts".

Another options is to get a U bolt and cut off one leg.

Another is to get a length of threaded rod, cut a suitable length section, and bend one end into a J shape.

stangel | 12 juli 2013

@buster88 - yes, Tesla will mount the front plate holder by screwing into the plastic nosecone. Many of us would rather leave that piece intact.

buster88 | 12 juli 2013

@stangel - thanks for the clarification. I live in an area of SoCal where the police very regularly cite drivers for not having a front license plate. So, for me, the front plate is going on and staying on, and thus, having it screwed into the nosecone is a non-issue.

Brian H | 12 juli 2013

Store the picture on a webhosting site, like tinypic or any other. Grab the image URL (context/right click menu). Insert in this HTML:

<img src="URL" width="600">


Newampster | 12 juli 2013

I picked up my MS85 today at the TSC (Hooray!). I noticed cars in the lot with front plates high, over the front nose. And low, below the nose. I asked an owned how he mounted below the nose and he showed me a simple black zip tie method. Mine is now done the same way, far nicer than compromising the great look of the car.

ddruz | 12 juli 2013

Front plate position aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. I originally had mined placed low with the zip tie method but after living with it for a while decided I liked the standard Tesla solution better and moved my plate to the nosecone. Happier with it there. To each his own. It's nice to have the choice.

pdx4s | 12 juli 2013

any concerns with the pressure of the j-bolts on the grill plastic ?

There are weather resistant zip ties some with metal reinforcement built in and will last forever.

I would be ok with letting TM install them when I get my P85 as long as the back side of the plate wraps nicely around the front nose plastic curve so it doesn't leave spaces in between and also gives a more solid/firm look to the installation (as if it would be part of the nose). Anyone got their hand on one ?

Brian H | 12 juli 2013

It's not a structural grill. The nose cone pops off, and can be entirely replaced for about $150, IIRC.

Car-El | 16 juli 2013