So I was putting my girlfriend's plates+frame on her Civic, and being the he-man that I'm not, I managed to break the heads off both screws in two tries.

I went to Home Depot and picked up one of those $20 removal kits for my drill and I managed to get one screw out, but the other one is seriously stuck in there.

To make matters worse, during my initial try to get it out I broke off a crummy reverse threaded drill bit in there, so the new reverse bit while a quality part won't even dig into the screw.

-edit- I don't have access to the screw from inside the trunk either, it's got a panel welded on it.

Her plate+frame is on for now, but it's basically on with one screw and falls to the side every now and then...

Is there any trick I can use to get the other screw out, or something decent I can do to secure the plate?

  • Did you check if you can access it through the trunk and it may be under some carpet? On my Toyota Tercel I once break a nylon licence plate, but I was able to access it by the rear. Oct 31, 2011 at 14:07
  • I did actually; the way the inside of the trunk is laid out you can't get at the screws from behind, there's another plate welded inside it.
    – Jane Panda
    Oct 31, 2011 at 19:55
  • I've had a similar issue -- after a couple of winters in Ontario, I couldn't get off the old licence plate to replace it with a new one in California. I just told the dealer to remove the old plate for me during a routine oil change, and then attached a new plate myself with some plastic screws. :-)
    – cnst
    Jun 3, 2015 at 20:44
  • You know in the long run I got if off with a grip wrench - gedoretools.com/images/detailed/15/6406620.jpg
    – Jane Panda
    Jun 3, 2015 at 21:31
  • I am having same issue! Why do they even use plastic screws?!!!!!!
    – Deborah
    Dec 2, 2016 at 2:56

6 Answers 6


Depending on how mechanism for holding the screw is attached to the car, you might have a couple of options.

Some cars have plastic blocks embedded in the bumper. (Something like this) If that the case, you can probably simply drill out the broken screw, and then either replace the block, or use a larger-size self-threading screw.

Another method is a clip (Like this). If that's the case, you can probably use wire cutters to break apart the clip, spin it apart, and then replace it.

Most auto parts stores will have many universal replacement parts what'll probably replace whatever you have if you destroy the existing mount.


Find a small flat head screw driver, heat it up and before it cools, stick it in to the plastic screw. It will melt a slot enough for you to back the screw out


I think I bought every screw extractor on the market and had no luck. All I got was a nice, smoothly shaved cone in the middle of my screw. I ended up using my Dremel tool to cut 2 parallel sides into the screw head. I then added another shot of WD-40, locked a pair of vice-grips onto the screw and managed to get it out.


Is there ANY of the screw available? You could try cutting a potato in half, then freezing it. Use a rubber mallet to pound onto the exposed screw shaft and then turn. Good luck.

  • First time I heard that trick!! Oct 31, 2011 at 15:49
  • There's just a few millimeters sadly; still I might give this a shot!
    – Jane Panda
    Oct 31, 2011 at 19:56
  • Maybe vice-grips?
    – chris
    Oct 31, 2011 at 20:33
  • I tried a pair but had no luck, it's pretty impressive how stuck in there the screws were. I used a pair with an oval center wrapped around the screw while I was drilling to keep from messing the paint up on the car if the drill bit came loose
    – Jane Panda
    Oct 31, 2011 at 23:14

You can try and drill the entire screw out - I've done that before, after the screw removal tool "thing" failed to grasp it out.


You could use EZ outs, like these at Sears

You have to be precise though or it won't work. enter image description here

  • That's basically what I have, but like I said I somehow broke off a drill bit in the screw, and so the new bit wont dig into the old bit.
    – Jane Panda
    Nov 1, 2011 at 17:07
  • oh sorry didn't read that, yea same thing happened to me. Was impossible to drill, it is too hard. Mechanic wound up just tapping a new screw right next it. :)
    – riotburn
    Nov 1, 2011 at 17:35

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