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Old 10-15-2012, 07:46 AM   #1
Tiger-Heli
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Using 4 Screws to Secure Focus Rear License Plate (WARNING)

Someone here recently posted that is was possible to remove the rubber spacers and use standard plastic nut retainers to secure the Focus rear license plate using 4 screws.

That is only PARTIALLY true (at least on a hatchback, not sure on a sedan).

The rubber spacers do pop out easily and Ford did use a standard square cutout for them. Any AFTERMARKET (I prefer Dorman, but Bell works also) THIN retainer will work just fine. However, if you try to use the OEM gray Ford retainers that are used for the upper screws, you will have major problems. The Ford fasteners protrude about 1-inch behind the panel and beyond 3/4-inch they will contact a structural reinforcement that is part of the hatch structure. Typically they will get stuck at this point and will be difficult to remove. They can't be used in any case without trimming them, which I wouldn't recommend. I ended up having to remove the hatch trim panel and the latch mechanism to get them back out. (Hatch handle covers pop off - two 9/32-inch head screws under each one, about a dozen retaining clips on the hatch trim, 3 T40-head screws on the latch.)

I was able to use the foam gaskets that came with the OEM retainers with the aftermarket ones, and I don't know where to get those separately, so except for time, it wasn't a total loss. Just trying to save others some unnecessary grief.


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Old 10-15-2012, 11:11 AM   #2
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I just went to AutoZone and got some square tag nut clips. Then went to Ace and got some short stainless screws. Worked like a charm. My new warped AZ tag was chaffing against the paint, so this was a way to stop that and plug the two extra holes in the hatch to keep water out.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:15 AM   #3
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thats interesting. The dealer that I got the car from put some in at the bottom of the plate. However they are to long and do not sit flat. But the screw expands the plastic anyway so they are holding tight.

Might have to look at it again.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:14 AM   #4
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Correct - AutoZone nut clips work fine. Ford OEM ones do NOT.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:22 AM   #5
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Seems like what I ran into. The gray OEM ones will angle down away from the liftgate. You could probably get a screw to hold the plate to them, but it won't be correct.

The aftermarket fasteners work fine, though.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:21 PM   #6
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iirc, the top two are gray and I know the bottom two are black.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:46 PM   #7
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I took off the grey OEM ones from the top and the black rubber nipples from the bottom and replaced it all with this:http://www.google.com/url?source=img...Jo5fZoqZOip2wQ

It works great and the license plate is nice and secured with the weathertech frames I have
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Touring05 View Post
I took off the grey OEM ones from the top and the black rubber nipples from the bottom and replaced it all with this:http://www.google.com/url?source=img...Jo5fZoqZOip2wQ

It works great and the license plate is nice and secured with the weathertech frames I have
Those look just like the AutoZone one's except they are black.
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Old 11-16-2012, 10:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger-Heli View Post
Someone here recently posted that is was possible to remove the rubber spacers and use standard plastic nut retainers to secure the Focus rear license plate using 4 screws.

That is only PARTIALLY true (at least on a hatchback, not sure on a sedan).

The rubber spacers do pop out easily and Ford did use a standard square cutout for them. Any AFTERMARKET (I prefer Dorman, but Bell works also) THIN retainer will work just fine. However, if you try to use the OEM gray Ford retainers that are used for the upper screws, you will have major problems. The Ford fasteners protrude about 1-inch behind the panel and beyond 3/4-inch they will contact a structural reinforcement that is part of the hatch structure. Typically they will get stuck at this point and will be difficult to remove. They can't be used in any case without trimming them, which I wouldn't recommend. I ended up having to remove the hatch trim panel and the latch mechanism to get them back out. (Hatch handle covers pop off - two 9/32-inch head screws under each one, about a dozen retaining clips on the hatch trim, 3 T40-head screws on the latch.)

I was able to use the foam gaskets that came with the OEM retainers with the aftermarket ones, and I don't know where to get those separately, so except for time, it wasn't a total loss. Just trying to save others some unnecessary grief.
Awesome info! This is just what I was looking for. Thanks so much for posting this.
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