Do-It-Yourself Screws for License Plates That Don't Corrode or Rust

by Laura Paquette

As small as they seem, the screws on your license plate can prevent rattling and keep your tag secure. Unfortunately, corroded or rusted screws make it difficult to change plates or add a decorative border. If you can remove the ruined screws, there are many options for waterproof, anticorrosive screws that will stay pristine for the duration of your car's life. Make sure to find screws that are particularly resistant to outdoor weather conditions, as this is the main cause of rust and corrosion.

Remove rusted screws. Press down firmly with a screwdriver on the screws and turn counterclockwise. If the screw doesn't budge, try rubbing the area with a wet rag, or squirting on some water-displacement spray as a lubricant. Allow the moisture to sink in, then try again. If you are at risk of stripping the screw, that is, removing the grip that the screwdriver slides into with repeated scraping, consider switching to pliers to grab the edge of the screw and turn. Continue until all screws have been removed.

Clean the license plate with the rag and spray. Remove any brown stains from rust residue on both sides and wipe dry.

Measure the screws. Most license plate screws are short, around 5/8-inch long, but the size can vary from model to model. Replace rusted screws with screws of the same size. Make sure to measure diameter in addition to length; screws with too small a head may go through the holes in your license plate or be less secure.

Purchase replacement screws. Many anticorrosive screws are marketed as outdoor or decking screws, and feature a plating that protects against rust. Ask at your local hardware store for a recommendation, or research online. Some rust-resistant screws are coated in a colored gloss to prevent rust. Otherwise, look for stainless steel replacements.

Screw on license plate, tightening well. Any space between the screw and plate can allow water to collect, risking more water damage. If you choose, spray the screw heads on the attached plate with a rust-resistant spray, which will give the appearance of a waxy coating and protect against scratching, humidity, salt-spray and human touch.


  • close Never drive your car without the license plate securely fastened and visible.

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About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera ky license plate image by timur1970 from