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Are metal license plates doomed in California?

Mounting a license plate is often awkward. Cheap frames from dealerships that didn’t ask permission to promote their businesses on your new car. Odd screws that don’t hold the plates steady or look ugly.

California is attempting to resolve the issue, and it could mean a nationwide trend for RVers. The state is the first in the country to allow sticker plate alternatives that don’t require drilling into a vehicle’s bumper.

A sticky wrapped license plate is a new system in California.
A sticky wrapped license plate is a new system in California.

Nearly a decade ago, California passed a bill that sought alternatives to the traditional screw-on front license. One alternative is offered by LicensePlateWrap.com. It’s the only company directly involved in government trial programs for license plate stickers.

The initial trial program fitted 28 California Highway Patrol vehicles with the wrapped plates. The state’s department of motor vehicles now allows anyone to upload their license and vehicle information to the License Plate Wrap website to secure their own reflective vinyl sticker plate for their vehicle’s front bumper. The pilot program has been extended to January 1, 2023.

Eight plate designs are available, each identical to the standard metal plate equivalent designs. New sticky license plates take four to six weeks for delivery. The company recommends only applying the stickers to high-quality paint jobs.

LicenesePlateWrap.com is seeking but hasn’t received permission to use its product in other states. The wrap plate costs $85, plus a higher registration fee.

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Bob M
4 months ago

Pa has a rear aluminum license plate. The metal wasn’t properly pretreated to accept the paint. My plate the finish witch includes the number is separating from the plate. Some Pa police have license plate readers in their car that can read the plate and provide the officer with the car registration information. Pa was talking about putting license plates on vehicle front bumper. Because they lost millions of dollars from people driving the turnpike and the camera didn’t get their license info to charge them. This was after they laid off the toll keepers. When coming thru Pa, we have the worst roads, falling apart bridges, construction causing long traffic backups and emergency personnel who don’t know how to keep traffic moving after an accident. Plus plenty of crooked politicians in jail.

Morgan Borrowman
4 months ago

Just so you know as a signmaker I have to tell you they are not Stickers or Deecals they are Decals.

Jeff Craig
4 months ago

If you are like me, and drive your vehicle until it wears out (usually 250k miles on them), this makes perfect sense. If I remember correctly, most states have you replace your metal tags every ten years, so you’d definitely save your production costs right there.

I’m just waiting for them to make them with bar codes that have the vehicles VIN number on them, so plates can’t be stolen and put on a matching vehicle that’s used in a crime.

Jeff Craig
4 months ago

Good. They don’t need your smug, self-righteous keester.

Bugman
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Jeff,old boy, you call it “self-righteous” I call it reality – something you folks there aren’t too keen on. Sad, so sad.

Has
4 months ago

The sticker isn’t mandatory. It’s an option.

KellyR
4 months ago

Yep – let’s find a way to use more oil to make plastics and glue to ruin a paint job. I have never found it hard, or to find the right screws to mount a plate, and I could find fancy screws if I wanted to. I have a 1945 Illinois license plate that is made of wood fiber because of lack of metal during WWII. We can make plates out of soy if we needed to. When the plate expired we could eat it if times got hard.
I have saved many plates from different states to commemorate, our births, marriages, etc. and the locations they took place in. I guess I will now start collecting any plate I can find as they will become valuable antiques.

Cathi
4 months ago

It seems you would still need to put that metal plate in a frame on the back. This wrap was only for the front. We moved from CA to AZ. In AZ you only have a plate on the back, therefore no need for a wrap on the front.

Rich
4 months ago

like most things that originate from California…this is pure nonsense. my Wrangler is 19-years old. when we bought it there was the ubiquitous dealer license plate frame and decal on the back. When I got home I made quick work of the decal and replaced the dealer plate frame with my own (not because it was flimsy. it was. But I wasn’t about to give the dealer free advertising). that same frame still sits on my Wrangler having survived 19 Chicago winters and being towed cross-country 7-times. by the way, my wife’s 2010 Liberty also still has the license plate frame I put on it when we got it home from the dealer.

Hak
4 months ago
Reply to  Rich

Right on!

Bryan
4 months ago

So the State that banned plastic straws wants to eliminate a metal plate, that could be recycled, for a one use only vinyl plastic? Also recommends apply to a high quality paint job so that means new paint job or new car which also is a waste of resources. Reads more like the vinyl industry creating a problem or exaggerating little issues for them to fix and make money off of, rather than fixing real issues.

James
4 months ago

Let’s see. I don’t want to drill a couple of holes for a license bracket but I can put a permanent decal on my car? Even if there is ample room for it it will be damaged by debris or by contact. Just a third party money grab!

Robert
4 months ago

Just another political joke

Lee
4 months ago

Leave it to California to figure a way to raise registration costs and make more money to add to the all ready surplus. I was born and raised here and I’m embarrassed to say where I’m from when traveling.

Stephanie
4 months ago

The DMV for the state of Texas recommends sellers to remove the license plates when selling a vehicle in order to mitigate undue liability from the actions of the buyer once they take possession of the vehicle. How easily can one remove these plate stickers in these circumstances?

BILLY Bob Thronton
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Try Goo-B-Gone

Admin
Kim Christiansen(@imkimc)
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

That also brings up the problem of people just ripping your license plate off for kicks.

Good thing it’s just an option, not a requirement.

K S
4 months ago

Why do your emails contain trackers? What info and behaviors are being tracked? Who receives our tracked info and behaviors? How long do trackers persist in our phones, computers, tablets?

Admin
Kim Christiansen(@imkimc)
4 months ago
Reply to  K S

Hi K S, good question.

Our email alerts contain a tracking pixel and link so we can see who’s viewed an email and who has clicked the link. We do this to keep our mailing list up to date. We pay a fee based on number of subscribers for our emails to be sent out and so we want to make sure that everyone receiving our email alerts actually wants to be on the list and is reading them.

If our email alerts have gone unread or un-clicked for several months we send out an email to those addresses asking them to confirm their subscription and remove those who do not respond. That is the only thing the tracking info in our emails is for. Our mailing list company does not share or sell any info (we made sure of that before choosing them) and we NEVER HAVE AND WE NEVER WILL SELL YOUR INFO.

Our privacy policy is a lot more comprehensive and contains links to all of the third parties we work with to bring you this website.

Hope that helps!
Kim

RVtravel.com I.T.

Forest
4 months ago

It might keep thieves from stealing plates!

Glen Cowgill
4 months ago

More money which somehow a portion ends up in some politicians pocket. Leave something that works alone.

Ken W
4 months ago

Political back scratching probably going on here. This makes no sense. Some politician has got to be connected to the “only vendor in the state” that can make these decals. Thinkin’. It’s a wife. or husband or a brother of a Assemblyman who got this contract as a single source contractor. Minority owned business owner, probably using Covid relief funds and getting a huge tax break on their location in the a selected city. Getting supplies from China, using cheap labor in a sweatshop.

Bob p
4 months ago

It’s obvious your filters for comments is keyed to being politically correct, and please don’t say anything that may upset someone on the liberal side, maybe it’s time to be a little more straight forward and start telling it as it is, as Harry Truman said if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.

Glenn A
4 months ago

Let’s consider diminished value due to damaged incurred removing said sticker before resale, or mismatched paint due to fading.

Disclaimer: I’ve never lived in a state with a front tag and I don’t put stickers on my paint.

matski
4 months ago

Just eliminate the front plate like a lot of other states have done.

Jim Van Riper
4 months ago
Reply to  matski

Many states want that extra income when you run a red light and are caught on camera.

Jeff Craig
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Van Riper

Red Light Cameras have zoom cameras that catch your back plate just as effectively as your front one. I used to put in the internet service for RLC’s around Seattle, and absolutely hate them – until I saw the results. They actually do prevent red-light runners, and since the pandemic, people have been running them like crazy near me. (A lot of them with out-of-state plates!)

Stephanie
4 months ago
Reply to  matski

Back plates are still required.