Are you detail oriented?
Do minor, insignificant things “bug” you?
If not, please don’t bother reading this thread since it’s intended for the most obsessive, anal retentive, “Type-A” X3 owners only.
My X3 was delivered with ugly, dealer-advertising license plate frames which were attached with the BMW supplied Phillips Head machine screws, which were equally ugly.
I removed the dealer frames within minutes of getting the X3 home, but the OEM Zinc-plated screws remained. The Zinc plated screws are dull gray and tend to discolor with age as the Zinc oxidizes. They just get uglier and uglier as they age (just like most of us).
A few days later I found some chrome-plated screws of the correct size at an auto parts store and installed them. They looked much better, but looked like the stock screws only shiny. After less then a month of being exposed to Chicago’s salt laden winter streets they started to develop rust spots. In addition, since they were still plain old Phillips head screws, anyone with a $1 screwdriver (including any typical car thief) could remove and change the license plate in seconds. I was not happy with the chrome screws.
I decided to search for, and find some polished, Allen head cap screws made of a salt and water impervious stainless steel alloy of the correct size to fit the X3. These were installed, and to my eyes and taste, they look significantly better than the stock Phillips or the Chrome plated screws. They were installed with stainless flat washers and stainless lock washers so provide an additional level of security from having your license plate lifted, since the likelihood of a thief having a correct sized Allen wrench is much less. They will never rust or oxidize, and won’t “freeze” in the tapped holes when it’s time to remove the plate.
Specifications for the metric machine screws I used are:
Size: 5 X 0.8 X 16 mm polished Allen head cap screw (5mm dia. 0.8 pitch, 16mm long)
Material: Type A-2-70 (18-8) stainless steel
The (5mm) washers are also made of A-2-70 (18-8) stainless steel
If anyone wants more details, please contact me via PM.
Photos of the current frame set-up and the original zinc, chrome, and the stainless screws are below.