2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon: Front License Plate Bracket
June 09, 2011
Something like 14 U.S. states do not issue or require front license plates, but California isn't one of them. I prefer to run around without, but our cars spend a lot of time parked parallel on the streets of west LA and Santa Monica, where meter maids cruise around in trendy hybrids looking for any excuse to whip out their ticket books and start issuing.
Having spent 7 years in Arizona, one of the enlightened states that doesn't have front plates, I hadn't noticed the missing plate on the nose of our 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon until I loaded some stuff in the back and found it laying next to the front bracket in the underfloor storage bin.
Reluctantly, and with a hint of sadness, I dug out a 10mm socket and a Phillips screwdriver and got to work.
The TSX's front plate comes with 8 fasteners; 4 to hold the bracket to the car and 4 to hold the plate to the bracket. The two black screws and the two shoulder bolts are the ones that affix the bracket to the car.
Install the two 10mm shoulder bolts first (yellow), but only tighten them after you make sure everything is square and just where you want it. You don't really have all that much leeway because the holes in the bracket and the pre-installed nuts in the bumper are all fairly precisely laid out.
At that point the two screws go straight into the face of the bumper right where they sit. The material is soft enough *whimper* that they go right in without the need for a pilot hole. There's no turning back at this point, of course.
All done, all square. Time for the other 4 screws and the plate itself.
The license plate screws have a dual-purpose head that offers a choice of a 10mm socket or a Phillips screwdriver. I like to use a speed handle with the scoket to help me line things up and ensure the self-tapping screw is going straight in. Also, the relatively small amount of leverage generated by a speed handle makes it easy to avoid stripping out the freshly-cut soft plastic threads.
Five minutes, two simple tools, no measuring necessary. For better or for worse, our 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon is now legal in SoCal. The meter maids have one less excuse to leave an unpleasant surprise on the windshield.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,734 miles