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Old 10-15-2012, 07:46 AM   #1
Tiger-Heli
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Location: Georgia, United States
What I Drive: 2002 French Blue SE Sedan

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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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