Saturday, January 17, 2004

Say no to plastic
H. Kishie Singh

Go for metal number plates, for plastic plates crack easily
Go for metal number plates, for plastic plates crack easily

"SAY no to plastic" is a phrase we have heard many times. Most of the time it refers to plastic bags. Even though it is extremely user-friendly, especially for the manufacturer of a car, plastic is the most detrimental material invented for the environment. It is non-biodegradable. It just wonít go away. It can also be toxic. Which is why it has been banned from various uses.

One use it has found is for the registration plates on cars. Actually, according to rules, you are obliged to have a metal plate. One look at the accompanying photo will tell you why plastic plates are no good. The owner is yelling at the police "Challan me!"

Itís a serious offence to be driving without a number plate, for itís the only real identification your car has. If stolen, you may have a hard time identifying your own car. So metal is the answer.

These plastic plates were mass produced by the millions. Some time ago there was a national frenzy to change from black background and white letters to white background with black letters. Why? No one knows. Someone in the corridors of power went into mental overdrive and has since lapsed into a somnolent silence. New licence plates, really high-tech and foolproof, should have been introduced. Not a peep about them.

There is another solution to this. Paint the registration number directly onto the car. This has many advantages. First, you donít have to go out and buy metal number plates, screws, nuts and bolts. Just go to the painter. Paint the required area white and paint the letters on it. Job done! And a very positive one.

In case your car gets stolen (hereís hoping it never happens!), the first thing the baddie will do is change the number plates. All it requires is a couple of minutes and a screwdriver in experienced hands. The car has a new identity. In your old car, you could identify your personal items in the glove box and other knick-knacks. In a brand new car, this could be extremely difficult.

If there is no number plate, itís difficult to change! Itís hard to think a baddie is going to change the whole boot lid. To him, time is crucial. The thought of the additional delay and cost will be a deterrent.

I find number plates have a tendency to rattle. No number plate, no rattle!

The second most important point: the area behind the number plate wonít rust. If you have a number plate on the rear of your car, chances are it would have picked up dust, leaves and other muck over time. The paint may be discoloured. All this can be avoided by painting directly onto the paintwork of the car.

If you are obliged to use a metal number plate which has to be bolted on, use G.I. belts ó they wonít rust. As mentioned earlier, a thief armed with a screwdriver can remove your number plate. To prevent this, once you have tightened the bolts or screws holding the number plate, work some M.Seal (or similar compound) into the screw head slot. This way there is no slot to fit a screwdriver. Itís really not possible to stop a thief if he is determined. However, anything that causes delays is a great deterrent.

Happy motoring!

This feature was published on January 10, 2004