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Why Do People Leave on the Dealership License Plate Frame?

Hello and welcome to everyone’s least favorite weekly column here on Oversteer, which is called "Ask Doug." The way "Ask Doug" works is, you email me a question you’d like to know the answer to, preferably about cars, and I take the best question each week and post it on here. And by "the best question," what I mean is the one that praises me most.

Now, if you’d like to praise me and then ask a question, you may email me at, and I will consider responding to your question on the site. I will also consider replying with a string of profanity indicating how stupid you are. One or the other.

Today’s question comes to us from a reader I’ve named Frank, who writes:

Hello Doug,

I’m the type of person that once I buy a new/used car, the first thing I do when I get home is remove the dealer plate frame. I can’t stand the thought of advertising for them for free. Yet, when driving around town, I always notice people drive around with license plate frames or decals of car dealerships stuck to their cars. These aren’t new cars that just came off a lot, but these decals are baked onto the car’s paint, most likely leaving a silhouette if they were to remove it. Why would people leave it on? Are people just that plain lazy?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


For those of you who don’t want to read Frank’s email because it would disrupt your busy schedule of checking Oversteer so you don’t have to do any work today, what Frank is asking is simple: Why do people leave on their dealer license plate frames or dealer badging? Why don’t they remove this stuff? Why would they want to give free advertising to the dealership?

Frank, one quick point here, pal. I removed my dealership license plate frame when I purchased my Mercedes. But you know what’s still left on this car? The Mercedes logos. There are like six of them on the outside of the car, and everywhere I go, they’re there, "advertising for them for free," to quote you. Same if you wear a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, or if you use a laptop with the brand name or logo on the back of the screen, or whatever. You’re always advertising for companies for free. Removing your dealer plate frame doesn’t make you any less of a free advertiser.

Which brings me to my next point, which is: Most people don’t care. We advertise products so frequently that most people don’t even think twice about it. And it goes beyond that. Most people don’t even notice it. Most people don’t care about their license plate, and they never look in that area, and they never even really notice that the license plate frame is on there, which brings us to another interesting point: If people don’t even notice their own plate frames, it’s unlikely they’re noticing anyone else’s, which probably makes this advertising pretty ineffective. But that’s a different topic for a different time.

Here’s a different thought, Frank: Although I’ve always removed my plate frames, I’ve asked fellow car enthusiasts about theirs in the past, since most car enthusiasts are pretty antiplate frame. What I’ve discovered is, some enthusiasts leave their plate frames on intentionally if they’ve had a good experience at the dealership, or if they know the dealership personally. I plan on doing this myself: I love my local Land Rover dealership like a brother, if a car dealership could be someone’s brother, and so I will probably stick a "LAND ROVER CHERRY HILL" license plate frame on my Defender one of these days. And I will proudly advertise the dealership that does such great work on my trucks and provides me with a 2-door Range Rover Evoque in the meantime.

And you will see my plate frame, and you will think I was simply too lazy to remove it. And no one else will notice it. And so life will go.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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