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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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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? :)


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:

Hmmm... try that again:

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

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.

@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.

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....

In Europe it is mandatory.

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

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.

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.

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,

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

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.

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.

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?

Impossible to say for certain without reading the statute from the specific state you're talking about, but I would be surprised if it said more than something like: motor vehicles shall, at all times, display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle." (or something similar)

It's the states that require front and back that likely need an exception in the rule to allow for cars from states that only require rear plates.

I'm an Oregon resident but while I was living in Tennessee I didn't have the front plate on my car and never had a problem. Because very few card have rear plates it doesn't stand out the way it would have at home.

WIth modern cars, I don't understand how the states can't come up with some alternative solution such as vinyl decals of plates or something other than bolting a physical plate to the front bumper. Most cars aren't designed anymore with a front plate in mind.

There are lots of functional requirements to be balanced. Visibility, difficulty in stealing too easily, annual replacement, etc. Wouldn't be surprised if plates soon incorporate RFID chips.

Thinking of RFID chips, plates are mainly for law enforcement and other governmental agencies identification and with tech advances it could be easier in near future for law enforcement to just ask the car "who are you?" with some directed radio connection. If the car has internal gps locator it could as well broadcast its presence using radio if someone asks who it is. Plates can become obsolete pretty soon, cars will only have ID-numbers. That kind of ID also makes "stolen plates" problem a lot harder for criminals to do.

I also bet that it is technically easier to do than any visual plate identification.

Plates are a complicated issue. Originally, they were the driver's license and the driver took it with him when he left the car. Then plates identified vehicles and that appropriate taxes had been paid. Now they have a larger role in photo ticketing and toll collecting. Even with RFID or other electronic tagging, there is still a need for human readable identifiers. "Yes, officer. Right after I heard the shots, I saw this oddly quiet red car going very fast down the street with the license plate BITEMEBP!"

How many of you actually remember and even see a plate that isn't some vanity plate like "BITEMEBP"? How about stolen plates? You can't trust that car having some plates is actually the car those plates belong to.

An much less visible low-tech ID probably is useful in case of abandoned cars and stuff like that, it doesn't need to be huge plate in front and/or in back of the car. A serial number somewhere in back of the car written in centimeter high numbers would do.

"Tesla Model S # 1206 seeking police attention. Driver is going 73mph in a 35mph zone. Traveling south on Tesla Avenue."

"Who is this? This is a police channel!"

"A smart car, you idiot. Ticket this fool before he wrecks me."

Any car company foolish enough to design a car that would report its driver to the police will have very, very few customers. ;-)

No news on front bracket so far.

I agree, a bracket such as on the Roadster or Camero *will* increase the drag coefficient and reduce mileage, probably by quite a lot.

Frankly, it is unbelievably stupid to design a car without an inherent front license plate bracket, even if it is a common thing to do. I really hope Tesla hasn't been unbelievably stupid just because "other car companies do it".

Remember, guys, you were founded because other car companies *are* stupid! You're not required to make the same mistakes they do! At least make different mistakes! :-)

Tesla will have a front license plate solution for Model S. Aerodynamic impacts of a front license plate should be minimal.

From an email by Walter Franck (Tesla Motors?) to brianman, via:

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