Let Me Get This Straight... - 2008 Pontiac G8 GT Long-Term Road Test

2008 Pontiac G8 Long Term Road Test

2008 Pontiac G8 GT: Let Me Get This Straight...

May 05, 2009

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You've noticed it. We've noticed it. Our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT has a cockeyed front license plate.

It wasn't always this way. Our G8 GT was delivered without the front license plate bracket installed. That's because something like 13 (or 14) of the 50 US states don't require a front plate. These enlightened states issue you one plate for the rear, and that's that.

I wish California were one of them. Front plates ruin the looks of a lot of cars--including this one. Look back at any blog post before July 2008 to see how much better our G8 looked without one.

Many Californians leave them off and never get hassled. But we represent a company and we won't risk it. And it's not advisable in Santa Monica and other beachside communities where you're likely to get a front plate ticket while legally parked at a meter or along a curb.

Front plate laws predate speed cameras by decades, and front plates are not strictly required for red light and speed cameras to function. Case in point: Arizona has no front plates, yet that state has become addicted to camera enforcement in the last year or two.

But I digress. This front plate has been on my nerves ever since it was installed by one of the two dealers we visited during a drawn-out service visit last July.

I've got tools and I've got the G8. I'll see what I can do. Maybe I can loosen a bolt and scoot it around, or something.

It's stuck on firmly; no car wash will have its way with this front plate. I have to remove the plate to see how the offending frame is attached. What I find is bad news.

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The bracket is attached with large pop rivets, making this irreversable and unadjustable. Someone had to drill holes in the bumper before they installed these rivets, and they simply did a horrible job of lining things up. Here's how much they screwed up...

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The distance from the top of the license plate frame to the grille is shown on the right-hand edge of the scale, and that edge has been positioned directly above each rivet.

1.15 inches on the left

1.5 inches on the right

That's a 3/8's-inch difference. I think I could do better blindfolded.

But all is not lost. The dealer screwed up in another way that could save us: they neglected to install the third lower rivet. Methinks I can drill out one of the two existing rivets and install a new one in a new third hole that I'll drill after everything is square.

That will leave one of the upper corners unsupported, but two rivets has so far proven to be enough. Maybe Meatloaf was right: two out of three ain't bad. Besides, a 3/8" error means I might find enough material to re-drill the frist hole, too.

I'm saying "I" because I don't trust the dealer to do it. If anyone's going to swiss-cheese the bumper at this point, it's gonna be me. Time for a DIY fix. All I need is a couple of large pop rivets.

This is all a royal pain in the butt, and I shouldn't have to write this post. Sure, it's a dealership problem, but perhaps Pontiac could have made this process idiot-proof by molding shallow dimples into the bumper cover so the tech knows exactly where to drill. We see that on cars all the time. Or do those of you in the lucky 13 (or 14) no-plate states think those dimples are ugly, too?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,702 miles

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