C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount – Overview & Install

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount

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:

License Plate Mount Overview

C4 Hawse License Plate Mount

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.

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount | Winch Frame

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

Winch Clutch

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

Winch 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.

C4 Winch Fairlead Bolts

Locate the two 3/4″ bolts (one per side) and with a wrench, start loosening them.

Step 3. Test Fit

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Fitment

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.

Synthetic Winch Line

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)

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Bolt Hole

Unfortunately, in my case, the bolts that came with my winch, a Smittybilt X20, were too large to fit into the C4 plate holes.

Enlarge C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Bolt Hole

I was able to solve this quickly, using a Dremel tool with a carbide bit to enlarge the bolt holes.

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Bolt Hole Fitment

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

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount 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

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Winch Shackle Compatibility

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.

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Shackle Fitment

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.

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Fitment Issue

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.

Final Thoughts

C4 Fabrication Hawse License Plate Mount Installation

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!

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Jeff Cardin
Jeff Cardin
8 months ago

I ran into the same issue with my set up which is similar to yours. Oddly enough I did what C4 suggested to you and just mounted it up and had the flatlink out of the way then I just grabbed the plate mount and pulled it forward. It pretty much worked however in the process it bend the two bolts that are welded on, this is despite having tightened the knobs as tight as possible before bending it. It’s still fine but it does make it a little harder to slide the plate off as the bolts are now slightly banana shaped. A little disappointing for something I paid over $100 for. I would think C4 would be able to offer a straight version without the bend in as after I pulled it forward and the flat link could now fit behind the plate I noticed it was now perfectly flat meaning the bend they put into it was not necessary.

1 year ago

Why not just bend the flange of the mount up along the c4 Bumper giving the license plate a more vertical position. That should be all you need to do to. That is what I did with this RSG mount.

1 year ago
Reply to  Larsupial

Does RSG offer a mount too? Never seen it.

2 months ago
Reply to  Carlo

I just came upon this howto and noticed your issue will likely be my issue. Did you simply return the c4 mount? I went to RSG’s site and didn’t see an RSG mount for 5th gen 4runner either.

2 months ago
Reply to  Ren

Yes, I had to sell the C4 mount. My front plate now lives in my dash, passenger side.

1 year ago

It has such a sleek look with out a fairlead and shackle but now I know I won’t be able to run my C4 plate mount. sad haha

1 year ago

Agency 6 makes a fairlead and license plate holder compatible with your hook.

1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

Hi Chris, thanks for the recommendation. I will check that out!

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