How do I remove permanent marker from my car window?
March 23, 2011 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Someone vandalized my car, damaging my front bumper and writing obscenities on my car window with permanent marker. Because the damage is in two places on the car, my insurance company says it has to be two separate claims, and therefore two deductibles. I can't afford that, so I'm making a claim for the bumper, but I'll have to take care of the window myself. any suggestion on what will take off the permanent marker without damaging the window. It's the passenger side window, not the windshield if that matters.
posted by ljshapiro to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rubbing alcohol + sponge for the marker.
posted by clarknova at 5:31 PM on March 23, 2011

Scribble over the permanent marker with dry erase marker, then wipe off.
posted by Verdandi at 5:37 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Get a whiteboard (dry erase) marker and copy the lines of the permanent marker. Then, erase the dry erase marker. Problem solved!
posted by 47triple2 at 5:37 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

And if the alcohol doesn't work, acetone (nail polish remover) is the next step.

Unsolicited advice: find out what the insurance company's appeal process is. The two claims, two deductibles sounds really bogus to me.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:38 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Two deductibles for one event is absurd. Have you talked to your agent or just the adjuster? Let your agent know if the company insists on this, you have no choice but to drop them and find a new insurance company as soon as the claim is complete because you can't trust this company to give you fair coverage. Sometimes if you go to the office and talk to them, you'll find the agent is really on your side.

However, permanent marker (you mean like a sharpie, right?) isn't very permanent at all on glass. You've dodged a bullet here, learning their true colors at little trouble/expense.
posted by fritley at 5:39 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the prompt answers! I'm wondering if the anti glare or other coatings on a car window make a difference. I don't want to create more damage. Any car people out there who can answer this?
posted by ljshapiro at 5:40 PM on March 23, 2011

Because the damage is in two places on the car, my insurance company says it has to be two separate claims, and therefore two deductibles.

That sounds like bullshit to me.
posted by mhoye at 5:40 PM on March 23, 2011 [11 favorites]

Before trying to do this yourself and possibly messing up the coatings on the windows, I would push back with the insurance company. I used to take claims for a major auto insurer and never heard of two claims for one event if the damage was in two places. I know this is a comprehensive claim, but if a tree fell on your car and the branches hit two different windows, I doubt it would be two claims. The suggestion to talk to your agent is a good one.
posted by elpea at 5:43 PM on March 23, 2011

Response by poster: I agree that two deductibles is bullshit, but I may be stuck with it. I will call the agent in the morning. I would like to know how to handle the marker myself if I have to, though.
posted by ljshapiro at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2011

who is your insurance company? i want to avoid that one
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:52 PM on March 23, 2011

1st: two deductibles is BS

2nd: try Bon Ami on the windshield. I use it on my cars and it works well, with no damage to the antiglare coating.
posted by fifilaru at 5:57 PM on March 23, 2011

Response by poster: Insurance co. Is Mercury. Agent is Ken Donaldson Insurance in Santa Monica. Just talked to someone at Donaldson, and he was sympathetic but not too helpful. They won't do anything; I have to call Mercury back in the morning and speak with a supervisor.
posted by ljshapiro at 6:04 PM on March 23, 2011

It's plausible that they think you're trying to get two incidents compensated for the price of one.

However, did you file a police report in which the police have treated this as a single incident of vandalism? That should be sufficient warrant for you to tell your insurer to take their petty little scam and shove it. (If you don't have a police report, you should probably get on that.)
posted by astrochimp at 6:06 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the Bon Ami tip, fifilaru
posted by ljshapiro at 6:06 PM on March 23, 2011

"goo gone" is Xylene based, I believe, and Xylene melts most anything... Lacquer Thinner is pretty strong stuff too..
posted by Glendale at 6:27 PM on March 23, 2011

Good old Ethanol takes off permanent marker. Buy some cheap vodka.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2011

I know for sure that acetone will take off sharpie without any trouble; we use it to label glassware in the lab all the time. I can't speak about the coating though, you might want to check if it is on the inside. Ethanol or rubbing alcohol will probably also work from my experiences accidentally rubbing off labels.
posted by Canageek at 7:04 PM on March 23, 2011

The reason that it's two different claims may be that one of them involves the glass, which is often covered separately under car insurance policies. Sometimes you can get auto glass repaired without even having to pay the deductible, though I think this is usually limited to the windshield rather than the windows.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:08 PM on March 23, 2011

Your car window will not just be glass, it will have an anti-glare coating on it that you will not want to damage. Even if it is just the passenger side window. What you want is the weakest solvent likely to still dissolve the permanent marker, in this case cheap vodka or rubbing alcohol.

Acetone and Bon Ami are a less sure to be safe, while I'd bet that anything like goo-gone would cause damage.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:33 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Goo Gone.
posted by phunniemee at 8:13 PM on March 23, 2011

posted by mumstheword at 8:49 PM on March 23, 2011

I have kids, so I know that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works on such things.
posted by Ostara at 9:32 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

just a side note - the reason the dry-erase marker trick works in general is because of the alcohol-based agent used to transfer the dry-erase pigment to the board.... you would effectively just be using it as an alcohol dispensing device.

Works fine on whiteboards -a dilute solution of water and isopropyl or ethyl alcohol in a spray bottle and some paper-towel probably works a lot faster.
posted by TravellingDen at 10:42 PM on March 23, 2011

In general, when I get something REALLY resistant to removal, I use PVC pipe cleaner, available at the hardware store.

It is evil. It contains methyl ethyl ketones. It will tie your chromosomes into square knots.

It will also remove just about anything, and I mean paint finish on your car, plastic coatings, anything. It is a last resort, and must be handled with care, and not used on anything you really don't want damaged. It will dissolve a lot of plastics, so be warned. I use it on glass, steel, and anything really robust and inert that I need to clean down to the frigging molecular level. The shit's bad, man. Bad.
posted by FauxScot at 4:57 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ethanol (methylated spirit, rubbing alcohol, vodka, etc) is quite unlikely to damage any coating on the glass. Test on an unseen edge first, if you produce a gooey filmy stuff, STOP. If you are sure any coating is on the other side of the glass and you are just working on bare glass, use whatever you want. Industrial paint thinners will clean ANYTHING (including the paint off your car).
posted by deadwax at 5:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

RainX works well on permanent markers.

I haven't tried this, but I've seen a recommendation that you go over the marks with a non-permanent marker, which is said to loosen the permanent marker scribbles.

IAAL. Find your insurance policy and see what it says about vandalism. It probably talks about various kinds of damage. If you find the words, you can say something like, "Both kinds of damages were suffered. Both losses occurred simultaneously and were perpetrated by the same vandal. The policy in the clearest terms promises to pay both." (This worked for me when my car broke down, was towed to the tow truck's garage and towed again the next day to a dealership.)
posted by KRS at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2011

Also, find a new insurance company ASAP.
posted by ook at 8:18 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

ook: "Also, find a new insurance company ASAP."

For realz! Years ago, I used Fatwallet to narrow down my choices and decided to go with Amica. They've been fantastic so far; no complaints from me. AM Best is another resource you'll want to bookmark.

2nding the recommendation to try Bon Ami. That stuff is da bomb.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:15 PM on March 24, 2011

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