Bumper stickers are often used to show the owner’s personality, make a joke, or advertise for a business or service. They can be used as a way to show support for a particular issue or candidate during election time, or to brag about personal achievements, such as places the owner has been, events they have attended, or their child’s good grades. However, after time has passed, the owner may want to remove one or more of the stickers; the election season may have passed, the child may have graduated, or the owner may no longer supports a particular issue. Bumper stickers can be tough to remove if they have been on the car for a long time and are weathered. Therefore, car owners considering bumper sticker removal should do it before the sticker becomes so worn that it will tear while coming off. To avoid damaging the vehicle, and to remove the sticker safely, owners should first research the available methods for removing bumper stickers. There are several methods that will not cause damage or leave unsightly marks. The following guide explains how to remove bumper stickers in such a way that it will leave your car looking like there was never a sticker there.
History of Bumper Stickers
Bumper stickers hit the market after World War II as small adhesive flags that attached to the bumpers of cars. They were not what we think of as bumper stickers today, but were light-weight, printed cardboard signs, attached with wire running around the outside of the bumper. Later, manufacturers switched to a pressure sensitive adhesive, which made bumper stickers easier to apply, and their use became far more common. In the late 1940s, marketing professionals began to see the benefits of using bumper stickers, and began printing them as advertisements for their businesses. Vintage bumper stickers are now sought by collectors of memorabilia from the automobile’s heyday, and memorabilia of such other subjects as old presidential campaigns and famous tourist attractions.
Types of Bumper Stickers
Bumper stickers come in all sizes and shapes, from small squares to large rectangles and circles. Some people place bumper stickers on their cars to indicate tourist attractions, states, or countries they have visited. Others used them to display accomplishments, such as miles ran, or their children making the honor roll. While bumper stickers are typically only applied to the back bumper of the vehicle, they can be placed almost anywhere on the car, including the back window, if legislation does not prohibit it. Window clings and vinyl decals are similar to bumper stickers, but are usually made of different materials and must be removed in a different manner.
Bumper Sticker Removal Methods
Bumper sticker removal can be a nasty job. Owners typically start considering bumper sticker removal when trying to sell their car, since a sticker might alienate a potential buyer or make the car look unattractive. The best time to remove bumper stickers is during warm weather, since the heat helps break the adhesive seal. The sections below provide some tips for removing bumper stickers from a car without leaving ugly smudges or patches of glue.
Applying heat to the bumper sticker can help break down the adhesive and allow it to be removed easier. Ways to apply heat include boiling water and soaking the sticker with a towel, or using a hair dryer. Once the glue is heated, begin trying to peel the sticker away at a corner. Continue applying heat as you move along, peeling back the sticker. Hopefully, the adhesive will give away enough that the sticker will come off the car without tearing. If you are having trouble peeling the sticker, try using a tool that won’t scratch your paint, such as a plastic spatula.
The Natural Method
If the bumper sticker is old and starts tearing and coming apart as you peel it, or it is firmly attached to the car, try the following mixture of natural agents to remove it. Mix three parts water, two teaspoons of rubbing alcohol, and one part eucalyptus oil into a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the sticker generously, and allow it to sit for ten minutes. Begin peeling the sticker off at the corners, and lift off as much of the sticker as possible. Continue applying the mixture while peeling towards the center.
Vinegar has also been known to work. Soak a towel in vinegar, then place the dampened towel directly on the sticker for five to ten minutes before peeling the sticker off. Rubbing vinegar over any remaining glue on the car will help remove it without scratches.
The Chemical Method
If the previous methods have not proven effective, there are some chemical methods that may work. WD-40 will break down adhesives, and can be sprayed around the edges of a bumper sticker to allow you to begin peeling it away from the paint. Again, a rubber spatula may come in handy as you try to lift the sticker around the edges. Continue to apply WD-40 as you remove more and more of the sticker.
Professional products such as Goo Gone are able to perforate the surface of the sticker so the chemical can break down the adhesive behind the sticker. These products are applied to the entire surface of the sticker, and should be allowed to soak for several minutes, per the instructions on the label. Once you have peeled up the sticker, use a soft cloth to wipe the area clean. These products also work well for removing the residue after the sticker has been lifted.
Removing the Residue
Most stickers leave some of the adhesive behind on the car. Use rubbing alcohol on a soft towel to rub away any sticky residue left behind. Use car wax to give the area a new shine, and your car should now look like it never had a sticker in that spot. However, for stickers that have been on the car a long time, the area beneath the sticker may be a different color from the rest of the vehicle due to sun bleaching.
Bumper Sticker Removal Dont’s
When removing bumper stickers from your car there are a few things you should never do, since such activities can damage or discolor your vehicle, or may create unsafe situations.
- Never use a razor blade or other sharp object to scrape away the bumper sticker. The chances of scratching your car and damaging the paint are too high. Always use soft instruments, such as a plastic spatulas or your fingers, to lift the sticker from the car.
- Never use gasoline or other harsh products to break down the adhesive. Not only does exposure to gasoline and the fumes from other harsh chemicals create a health hazard, it can also remove the top-coat or paint from your car.
Buying Bumper Stickers on eBay
For buyers looking for bumper stickers, eBay has a large selection available that are political, funny, or advertisements. Buyers seeking a classic style or a sticker that is no longer manufactured can find vintage bumper stickers on eBay at very reasonable prices.
Searching for Bumper Stickers on eBay
When searching for bumper stickers, you can use the search bar at the top of the page to enter keywords for your search. This will allow you to find bumper stickers for any particular topic, brand or political party. For a more refined search, use the Advanced Search feature, located to the right of the search bar. Once you have some listings from the search, you can browse through them or you can narrow down the listings by category for a wider search.
Try to choose a seller who has a lot of positive feedback. Such sellers are more likely to provide a satisfactory transaction and good products than are sellers with a lot of negative feedback on their profiles.
Bumper stickers often reflect the vehicle owner’s personality by displaying political candidates, sports teams, issues they support, places they have been, or personal achievements. However, times change, and how we feel about something at a particular time may not apply after certain events, such as elections or a child’s graduation. This means it may be time to remove the bumper sticker. Removing a bumper sticker from your car does not have to be a painful or damaging process. There are several methods available, including natural methods such as heat, chemical products, and professional solvents. All of these methods are designed to remove the sticker from your car safely without scratching, discoloring, or damaging the vehicle. However, for stickers that have non-standard adhesive, or those which have been on the car for a long time, some discoloration may remain due to the exposed paint having sustained sun exposure. If you want to purchase bumper stickers to replace the old ones, you can look on eBay to find a large selection from sellers all over the world.