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Old 07-18-2009, 10:17 PM   #1
David 93 SL2m
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Wrench Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

Here is advice for reattaching the front license plate holder on the 2001 SC2 bumper cover, and possibly for other S-Series model years too.

I nearly hit a deer and the only damage was 2 of these 3 fasteners broke after the deer kicked the front license plate. The front license plate holder was only held in place by the remaining fastener. The front license plate holder on my 2001 SC2 bumper cover was held on with 3 plastic fasteners that resembled molly bolts. Molly bolts are those things we can use to attach things of moderate weight to drywall where there isn't a stud behind that area of the wall.

I ordered 3 fasteners from Saturn, part number 22638717. It turns out the plastic fasteners have been replaced with a metal version (perhaps aluminum) and they are actually rivets. They are called "blind rivets." Oops, I don't have a blind-rivet "gun!"

First I tried to secure the blind-rivets by holding the license plate holder against the bumper cover, inserting one of these rivets into one of the holes, pressing the integrated washer with bent needle nose pliers, and pulling on the exposed end of the blind-rivet's "nail" with vise grips. That didn't work at all.

So I ended up removing the front bumper cover, put it on the grass, and worked there. With the bumper facing downward where the license plate holder attaches, I used a deep socket on the outer painted side between the license plate holder and a block of wood to press the blind-rivet into the middle/lower hole, and on the inner non-painted side I tapped the rivet with an 8 oz hammer to make the blind-rivet's sleeve expand and secure itself using all three sections of the sleeve. This worked well.

Then I tried to do the same for the two blind-rivets for the upper holes. This did not work so well. The socket must not have been pressing the blind-rivet perpendicularly into the holes. Since the best I could do was hold the blind-rivets with a socket at an angle slightly less than 90 degree, only one of the three sections of both blind-rivets' sleeves expanded while the other sections of the blind-rivets' sleeves sort of pushed through to the outer side and didn't do anything. But the license plate holder is indeed secured to the front bumper cover. I reinstalled the front bumper cover and reattached the license plate to the license plate holder. Job completed.

Here is a tip for Saturn owners wanting to do the same job as me: don't bother with the blind-rivet fasteners from Saturn unless you have a blind-rivet "gun." Instead remove the front bumper cover, measure the lengths and diameter to see what size bolts are needed, go to Home Depot, buy appropriately sized bolts and nuts and washers, and use those with Permatex Threadlocker to hold the license plate holder on the bumper cover. I did a similar thing years ago when replacing the window regulator in my 1993 SL2's driver door and it is still holding up fine.

Oh, and removing/replacing the front bumper cover on my 2001 SC2 was easy. I removed the bulbs for the fog lights and side markers, leaving them connected to the wiring harnesses and dangling in place. Then I popped off the 3 two-piece rivets at the top between the headlights, 2 more under the bumper cover, and 3 more in each wheel well. After that the front bumper cover slides forward an inch or two, drops down about half an inch off the "shoulder bolts," and slides forward to come off. The piece weighs maybe 3 pounds, that is it. As the Haynes manual would typically say - reinstallation is the reverse of removal.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:38 PM   #2
RichBrown
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Default Re: Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

I hold the plate out the window when I'm passing the police Keeps the front sports LoL
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:15 PM   #3
RDO
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Happy Re: Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

Down here in the South, if you can't fix it with duct tape & chicken wire...it can't be fixed! lol
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Old 07-19-2009, 12:36 AM   #4
quantumech
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Default Re: Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

I've got mine on with a couple of fender washers and drywall screws. Been that way for...2 years now, and still just as snug as the day I put it back on that way. Only problem is that it's just a tad crooked, but oh well.
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Old 07-19-2009, 10:35 AM   #5
MikeNW
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Default Re: Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

By "blind rivets" are they Pop rivets? I have used zillions of aluminum pop rivets in my lifetime (rebuilding rusted-out bodies on 1962 Valiant, 1970 Olds) and have doubt that they would be the best tool here. I think they would crush the plastic. Great for metal though.
I would use those plastic push rivets instead. Available at AA or AZ stores. Or just use silicon adhesive? Glad it worked out for you though.
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Old 07-20-2009, 08:52 AM   #6
David 93 SL2m
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Happy Re: Securing front license plate holder to 2001 SC2 bumper cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNW View Post
By "blind rivets" are they Pop rivets? I have used zillions of aluminum pop rivets in my lifetime (rebuilding rusted-out bodies on 1962 Valiant, 1970 Olds) and have doubt that they would be the best tool here. I think they would crush the plastic. Great for metal though.
I would use those plastic push rivets instead. Available at AA or AZ stores. Or just use silicon adhesive? Glad it worked out for you though.
Yes; Wikipedia says "blind rivets" are also called "pop rivets."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivet#Blind_rivets

I just wanted the front license plate holder and the front license plate reattached securely to my front bumper cover. I thought using Saturn parts was the best choice and I was wrong.

In my state vehicles are required to have both front mounted and rear mounted license plates, also called "tags." The rear license plate has two stickers in the upper corners showing the expiration date of the registration. One sticker shows the month and the other sticker shows the year (plus something else indicating it can only be used on one vehicle). The front license plate does not have any registration stickers. Generally the police departments will not stop a local driver in my state because the front license plate is not mounted - but when they stop a driver for any other reason they typically check for a missing front license plate and then maybe issue more than one ticket - so I've heard. Other states and DC might be different, I don't know. Luckily for me police did not have any conversations with me during the short time my front license plate wasn't mounted!
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Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...
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