How to Remove License Plate Screws that Won’t Come Out?

Have you ever had a license plate screw that won’t come out? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be. This blog post will walk you through the steps to remove one of these pesky screws by using some basic tools and techniques.

license plate screws won't come out

Before we come with a solution, you need to find the reason behind the stubborn screws. They can be caused by rust, screwing them too tight that they got jammed, or the threads have been stripped out.

Depending on the reasons, you may need to try different techniques like drilling out the screw if the threads are stripped or using penetrating oil for rusted screws. Whatever it may be, we have a detailed guide below to solve your problem.

Method 1: Use Penetrating Oil to Unscrew Rusted License Plate Bolts

First, inspect the screws and see if they are rusted or damaged in any way. If you can get a good grip on them with your pliers and it’s just rust that is causing the problem, then we can easily resolve it by spraying some penetrating oil onto the screw head (Yes, without any additional tool to remove license plate bolts). However, if there is too much corrosion, you may want to consider other methods.

Here’s what you need to do- Spray a good quality penetrating oil on the screws (We recommend B’laster 16-PB Penetrating Catalyst) and let it sit for an hour. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the license plate screws that weren’t coming out.

If the license plate is fastened with bolts that require a wrench, it is wise to use an electric impact wrench to break them free than trying with manual wrenches.

Method 2: Use Vinegar to Unscrew Rusted License Plate Screws

Another thing you can do is soak the screws in white vinegar. The acid from the vinegar will eat away at corrosion and give your screwdriver a better grip on the license plate bolt heads.

However, if the screws are too much rusty, vinegar may fail to get rid of all the rust from the screws resulting in a failed attempt. In such cases, you need to use proper penetrating oil to solve the issue.

If the screw keeps rotating without coming out of the place, there is a chance that the nut has come out of the hatch. You’ll either need to find a way to pressurize the screw from behind and kind of use pull pressure while unscrewing it. If it won’t budge after trying several times, then you need to use a drill. Check the next formula for a detailed explanation of the drill out process.

Method 3: Drill the Bolt Out

If you are trying to remove the bolt from the license plate but it turns again and again without getting out of the hole, you should drill that bolt out. However, there is a caveat to doing that. You may lose the threads and need a rubber well nut to put the license plate back in place.

Auto body shops may ask you to do a couple of hundred bucks fix to solve an issue like this but you can get away with spending a couple of bucks by using a rubber well nut of the same size as the drilled out hole.

Method 4: Break Free the Nut Using Heat Gun

If the hatch is entirely made out of plastic, you can use heat to soften it out and use needle-nose pliers to remove the nut out of the hole. However, it is not recommended to use the heat gun on plastic license plates as they can warp and ruin the appearance of your car.

How to Prevent License Plate Screws From Jamming Again?

There are many ways by which you can avoid bolts and screws from becoming so stubborn that they won’t come out normally. Here are the tips you can follow-

1. Use Anti Seize Lubricant to Screw License Plate Screws

One method that can help is anti-seize thread compounds. Thread lubricant compounds are available in several forms including spray, gel, and paste form.

Spray on types are easy to use but they don’t last long. On the other hand, gels or pastes will give you more time but they are messier to apply compared to the sprays.

Once the compound is applied, you can use a flat head screwdriver to screw them in place. After using this technique to fasten the license plate screws, the screws should come out without too much effort when you need them to be.

If you are confused about what to pick, you can use Permatex Anti-Seize Lubricant as you can apply this to almost all types of automotive nuts and bolts.

2. Don’t Tighten the Screws Excessively

The screws that are tightly screwed into the holes will need more time to come off. If you tighten the screws after they reach the limit, the threads will start to strip off and you’ll end up with a seized license plate screw. So, always keep in mind not to tighten them excessively as it won’t help if they are stuck.

To prevent this from happening, just use a screwdriver or impact wrench with adequate pressure or torque and give it an appropriate amount of turns for each bolt head.

3. Use Coarse Threaded Bolts if Possible

One of the main reasons behind bolts and screws becoming seized is because they are made with fine threads. Fine threaded bolts don’t last long as it will be difficult for them to create a proper grip around the holes in which you have tried to screw them into.

So, if possible use coarse-thread screws for your license plate fastening needs so that they can create a stronger grip with the holes in which you are trying to fasten them. They will have a stronger grip and won’t be so vulnerable to the rusts like the fine threaded ones.


It’s not too difficult to deal with license plate screws that won’t come off easily if you follow these steps and use proper techniques for each scenario. If done right, it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes per screw so do not get tempted to take it to the auto body shop.

With these DIY techniques, you can save a lot of money and time while fixing your license plate problem quickly.

If you have any questions about this article or want some additional tips and tricks on how to remove stuck screws that won’t come out easily then let us know in the comment section below. We would be happy to help you out!

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