A rubber license plate holder is designed to protect your bumper from accidental scratches that can happen when you’re parking or when someone else carelessly backs into you while parking. Although a rubber license plate holder does not provide protection against accidents, a proper plate-mounted bumper guard will do an excellent job for what it’s designed.
A rubber license plate holder or other bumper guard is almost a necessity in big cities like New York City where the real “parking wars” go on every day and night. Street parking in big cities is an exercise in frustration, futility, and heartburn. Parking spaces are precious and drivers often squeeze into spaces between cars that would probably be difficult for cars even smaller than their own.
A bumper guard can eliminate many of the dings that happen when two cars come together at the license plate. Nobody wins because the back of one car ends up with bracket plate screw dents in their bumper and front of the other car ends up with a mangled plate or worse. Rubber bumper guard plate frames can eliminate most of that damage.
Of course, parallel parking can cause damage on the sides of bumpers, too. A bracket-mounted bumper guard won’t protect against that type of damage, but for what it’s designed, the right model will provide some protection.
What should you look for in a rubber license plate holder?
Most bracket-mounted bumper guards are somewhat wider and taller than a standard license frame. The depth or thickness of a plate holder made to protect bumpers, on the other hand, is quite a bit more. Some frames have depths as much as two inches or more of thick rubber material that compresses on impact and then returns to its original shape.
You want a rubber license plate holder to be able to absorb shock and then return to its original shape to protect against the next trauma. Ideally you want the material to be strong, but also flexible, even in freezing winter weather.
You want a bumper guard to be made from material that is not only shock-absorbing, but also weatherproof and able to withstand rain, snow, or any other weather that is thrown at it.
Metal license plate brackets are notorious for losing their luster, bending, and corroding away. A rubber license plate holder will replace your frame, and if made from the right materials will never rust or bend out of shape.
Most rubber holders are made from foam rubber and may experience sun damage. Ultraviolet light from the sign is not friend of foam rubber or plastic. Make sure any holder you buy can withstand the unrelenting sun day after day and year after year without compromising its capability.
Every vehicle is different. Most come with at least some mounting hardware, but some do expect you to use existing license plate mounting screws. The problem is that plate holder bumper guards are thick and the existing screws may not be long enough.
Also, keep in mind that most manufacturers are expecting you to attach their bumper guard with four screws. Although most license plates and brackets can accommodate four screws, the way they are attached may only use the top two. If your license plate and bracket are only attached with the top two screws, you will need to adjust the attachment so that the bumper guard can use all four screw attachments.
Often when a taller car backs into your car, they will ride over your license plate bracket and bumper causing possibly significant scratches and other damage. Some models of rubber license plate holders have a protective rubber extension above the holder that can help prevent at least some of that damage.
Even when someone else backs into you, you are at risk of liability. In the absence of video or photographic evidence, an unscrupulous motorist could blame damage to their car on you. The most common damage is when they impact your car in the front license plate area and the bracket and screws causes scratching, dents, or even holes in their rear bumper.
To protect against this, most rubber bumper guards have screw protection that is an extra layer of protective material around the screw area to keep the screws from impacting and damaging other vehicle bumpers.
It may not be at the top of your mind, but these bumper guards are thick and will change the appearance of your car’s frontend. Not every design will complement your vehicle. Look at the various designs available, and all things being equal, pick one that doesn’t look too horrible.
If you live in a big city and park on the street, your car is at risk from uncaring drivers who try to wedge their cars into what little space there is in front of your car and cause damage.
You may have to do the same thing and if you have no protection, you could damage both your car and the car in front of you. A rubber license plate holder and bumper guard is designed to protect you from low impact dings, scratches, and scuffs.