Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register
  • The final cut of the 9th episode of the Tesla Motors Club Podcast, featuring Chad Schwitters, the former president of Plug In America, is now available. You can watch it now on YouTube or listen to it on all major podcast networks.

Machine screws used for license plate? Why???

I've owned probably 10 cars in the last 30 years of various makes, and I have never ever had license plate screws back themselves out. The reason is because they all used self-tapping screws,

I picked up my new Model 3 a month ago and discovered today that one of the machine screws holding the license plate frame and temp tag had fallen out, leaving the license plate frame (which has completely unfinished edges) dangling and scratching up the paint on the bumper. (Don't get me started on license plate frames, which IMO are the dumbest thing ever invented.)

I was surprised to see that the Tesla uses machine screws to fasten the license plate. Don't get me wrong, machine screws are far superior to self-tapping screws for precision machines, but when threading them into metal you must use threadlock to ensure they don't back out--at least that's what I have been taught since I was in grade school. While self tapping or wood screws are certainly more crude, the benefit is that they won't back out.

I have a service appointment already scheduled to replace a bluetooth TPMS sensor that failed a week after I picked up the car. I will definitely complain about the license plate screws. TBH, the new owner experience for me has been very very poor. From a completely substandard website and opaque ordering process to snooty patronizing Tesla salespeople/advisors who will never acknowledge that they or the car are at fault and who make you feel like you are the problem--it's easily the worst ownership experience I have ever had among Honda, BMW, Subaru and Ford.
 
I was surprised to see that the Tesla uses machine screws to fasten the license plate. Don't get me wrong, machine screws are far superior to self-tapping screws for precision machines, but when threading them into metal you must use threadlock to ensure they don't back out--at least that's what I have been taught since I was in grade school. While self tapping or wood screws are certainly more crude, the benefit is that they won't back out.
It is the front, or the rear, or both licenses plates?
Would you mind to take a picture, as I don't really found a similar issue with the screws.
It seems that the one you have are too long?
 
Almost every car I've ever owned has been machine screws. I think my bmw was different though.
Well the bottom like for me is the screws backed out over a 1 month period of time, one of them completely. Have never had that happen in 30 years of car ownership. I noticed the threaded inserts are metal, which to me suggests you have to use a thread locking compound to make sure they stay in.
 
Last edited:
FWIW; my rear license plate screws were WAY loose from the factory (I didn’t check them; guess I should have) and it wasn’t until a few weeks later, I noticed one had fallen completely out and the remaining three were ABOUT to come out.
I tightened them up and never had another problem.
I just got my actual license plate (no more temp tag) and installed a fresh set of four screws.
 
FWIW; my rear license plate screws were WAY loose from the factory (I didn’t check them; guess I should have) and it wasn’t until a few weeks later, I noticed one had fallen completely out and the remaining three were ABOUT to come out.
I tightened them up and never had another problem.
I just got my actual license plate (no more temp tag) and installed a fresh set of four screws.
Well it sounds like you just bought the car. The bottoms line is, machine screws threaded into metal (which is what it appears to be in my brand new model 3) need application of threadlock compound to ensure the screws don’t back out in applications where the screws will be subjected to vibrations. My guess is, without threadlock you will need to tighten the screws from time to time depending on how much you drive. I drive about 120 miles a day and have racked up close to 3k miles in a month and a half.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top