C4 Hawse License Plate Mount – Easily Mount Your Front License Plate On An Aftermarket Bumper
One of the best purchases I made last year to improve the 4Runner’s self-recovery capabilities was surely the C4 Fabrication Lo Pro front bumper. Other than adding more protection to the front end, it also offers a solid foundation to install a winch.
Similar to any other aftermarket bumper, in order to install the C4 Lo Pro, I had to cut the center section of the stock plastic bumper, which unfortunately is also where the front license plate is located. In the state that I live in (Colorado), a front license plate is required for all vehicles so I had to find an alternative solution to mount the plate.
For many months, I simply carried the plate on my dash passenger side, using 4 suction cups to attach it to the windshield. This solution worked fine but it took away some of the visibility through the windshield (especially when looking to the right) and also it didn’t look good.
Eventually, I decided to address this problem and I gave the C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount a shot.
Find It Online:
- C4 Hawse License Plate Mount: Check Price
License Plate Mount Overview
This product consists of two pieces, the Hawse fairlead mount, and the license plate mount, both constructed of 14-gauge steel plate and powder coated black. The first piece is the one that mounts on the bumper while the second one is the one holding the plate.
Note: Unfortunately, when I ordered this product, I didn’t pay enough attention to the description and missed the part where it says that this mount is not compatible with Factor 55 Flat Link or Ultra Hook style winch shackles.
The one I have is similar but from Agency 6, however, the final result was the same. When I was close to wrapping up the installation, I came to find out that there isn’t enough space for the plate mount to clear the shackle mount. More on that later.
Step 1. Pull Out Winch Line
Let’s start with releasing the winch’s clutch, which is usually located in the top part of the winch enclosure. With the clutch open, go ahead and pull out some of your line so that you have more room to work with.
Step 2. Locate The Hawse Fairlead Bolts
The second step consists of removing the Hawse fairlead bolts so you can then remove them and install the Hawse License Plate Mount behind.
Locate the two 3/4″ bolts (one per side) and with a wrench, start loosening them.
Step 3. Test Fit
With the two bolts off, you can now remove the Hawse fairlead. Before installing the plate, take a moment to wipe down the bumper if you have dirt or mud on it. Since you will sandwich this mount in between the bumper and the fairlead, it’s better to have a clean contact surface to also avoid any abrasion and rust in the future.
Then, take the C4 fairlead mount, slide the winch rope through its opening at the bottom, and lay it on the bumper. Align the two side holes with the holes on the bumper.
Step 4. Tweak The Plate (Optional)
Unfortunately, in my case, the bolts that came with my winch, a Smittybilt X20, were too large to fit into the C4 plate holes.
I was able to solve this quickly, using a Dremel tool with a carbide bit to enlarge the bolt holes.
After a couple of tries, the diameter was wide enough for the bolts. Repeat on the other side and remember to paint the areas where you cut to avoid rust.
Update: C4 Fabrication is now selling an updated version of this plate where the above holes are larger to accommodate winch brands (like Smittybilt) that use larger bolts for the fairlead.
Step 5. Install The C4 Support Plate
Now you are good to go to put everything back together. Lay the C4 Hawse plate on the bumper, then lay the Hawse fairlead on top of it and re-install both bolts. Finally, engage the clutch and pull your winch rope back in.
At the top of the C4 plate, you will see two studs on each side; that’s where you slide in the license plate mount and secure it with the two plastic knobs.
Houston, We Have A Problem
This is the moment when I realized that this accessory would not work with my winch setup. The shackle is too thick and consequently, the plate mount doesn’t have enough space to clear it and be secure properly.
From my measurements, the space available is a bit more than 1″ so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about getting this accessory.
Unfortunately, this was a deal breaker for my installation. One potential solution that C4 could offer would be to make an “extended stud version” of the Hawse License Plate Mount available in order to accommodate the Factor55-style shackles.
Update: C4 Fabrication reached out and proposed a solution to fix the fitment issue. They suggested attaching the license plate with the knobs as normal without the flat link behind it (spool some winch line out to get the hook out of the way). Then, grab the back of the license plate mount and pull up/forward on it to bend the mounting plate a bit. This will allow room for a larger winch hook.
Here is a picture of the product fully assembled. The license plate mounts in the same way you would mount it to a vehicle (4 bolts total).
While other license plate mounts swivel to clear the way to the winch, the C4 one completely comes off with two plastic knobs and takes just a few seconds. By doing this, you can safely store the plate while you venture out on the trail without the risk of losing it.
In conclusion, if your state requires it, this is a good solution to mount the front license plate if you have an aftermarket bumper/winch combo. However, keep in mind the space limitation that I highlighted above.
If you have any questions about the installation or the product itself, you can leave a comment below or you can also find me on Instagram (@trail_runn4r). See you on the trails!