How to remove stickers from car without damaging them?
September 17, 2018 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a new vehicle (well, new for me). I have some stickers on my old truck that I would love to transfer to the new one. I realize that it might be an exercise in futility! However, I need to remove them before I sell the truck anyway, so why not try? What I would like to know is whether I should attempt this on a hot afternoon when the stickers/adhesive are softer or in the morning when everything is cool? Any success stories out there? Thanks!
posted by Don_K to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Which part(s) of the truck are they on?
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:38 PM on September 17, 2018

Sometimes a hair dryer will work to loosen can also blister the plastic and/or the paint on the car.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:46 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would guess hot would be easier. Or try a cool/regular day, start on a corner, then pour boiling water over it (a lot of water, at least a stockpot full) and try again; worst case you just wait for it to cool off again.

As a followup, I'd assume that the stickers will no longer be reliably sticky when you get them off. I recommend grabbing a couple of crap bumper stickers next time you find cheap/free and you can use any type of adhesive you like (permanent waterproof not suitable for car paint, etc) to firmly attach your vintage sticker to the top of that, then stick it to your new car with the "bumper sticker adhesive" of the crap sticker. Keeps you from having to come up with the right sticker-like adhesive for reattachment to the car paint.
posted by aimedwander at 1:02 PM on September 17, 2018

you might try getting ahold of some magnetic backing and gluing the detached vintage stickers to it. i used to turn stickers i particularly liked into removable/reusable car magnets by sticking them onto 'NEW DRIVER' magnetic bumper stickers i'd pilfered for free from the DMV, then trimming the magnet to size.
posted by halation at 1:06 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hairdryer and razor blade. Try to get "under the adhesive" with the blade and gradually work your way across. You aren't likely to scratch the glass.

Don't try to peel it off or pull it up by the edge with your fingers, you might stretch it.
posted by rhizome at 1:13 PM on September 17, 2018

Maybe just in case things go pear-shaped, you could take a digital photo of the sticker, then print a new one at your leisure, perhaps using an online service.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Just to add, these are on a window, not paint or bumper. Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by Don_K at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2018

I work at a shop that does a lot of vinyl decals and stickers for people. We have some tricks to removing old stuff, but most of it assumes we'll be wiping the surface clean to apply new stuff. It's pretty difficult to remove stickers without stretching or damaging them, and even the cleanest removal will necessarily lose some of the adhesive in the process, which will make proper reapplication impossible without, say, applying some newer adhesive. I am not aware of any adhesive off hand for re-gluing stickers from vehicle to vehicle. I'd say your best bet would just be to focus on clean removal of existing stickers as best you can and start from scratch. Check your town for print shops that do vehicle wraps, vinyl signs/decals, etc and they should be able to recreate whatever they were. Take photos too if you go that route. Also, if you're at such a shop, you can go hog wild and have them come up with something entirely unique just for your car. I mostly mention this because I love when goofballs come in here for some car decals that have nothing to do with a business or regulations.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:41 PM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think I might try it when it's cool first. My thinking is that less adhesive will pull off the sticker if it isn't gummy. I will take really good photos of the stickers first, just in case!
posted by Don_K at 1:58 PM on September 17, 2018

Agreed with rhizome, for a window, a razor scraper is the way to go. I'd probably try to scrape/lift one corner enough to grab with my fingers, then slowly work the rest of the way across the sticker, keeping the razor blade pressed firmly against the glass, and applying light tension on the sticker at a fairly shallow angle to the window. I've had decent luck removing things like State Parks stickers that way, sometimes they tear, but I can usually remove them in at worst just a few large chunks. (It's the same sort of satisfaction as peeling an orange in one piece.) Assuming it's not anywhere near a defroster wire (you don't want to scrape those off...), you won't damage the glass at all.

I agree with your logic on trying for a cold day.
posted by yuwtze at 2:21 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wonder if Bestine would work. It's rubber cement thinner and was used to peel off paper affixed to matboard. Peel up a corner of the sticker and then dribble it onto where it's attached, maybe using an eye dropper, pulling gently.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2018

Gentle to moderate heat is your friend. Old vinyl decals and stickers are more likely to chip and break when it’s cold; when warm they may stretch. I don’t think you’ll be able to reapply, unfortunately.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:34 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

WD-40 effortlessly removed a parking permit sticker from my car window. I don't remember what condition it left the sticker in, probably oil-soaked.
posted by sepviva at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2018

Well, thanks so much for the suggestions! Of course, there are some conflicting opinions, but that is to be expected. If I have any luck, I'll post what I did here.
posted by Don_K at 11:56 AM on September 18, 2018

I forgot to mention that yeah, you're going to lose the existing adhesive regardless of method. You can get roll-on adhesive that could work (or these), depending on the sticker.
posted by rhizome at 12:18 PM on September 18, 2018

Depending on how the first peel goes, I may end up dissolving the adhesive with WD40 or Bestine, then cleaning and applying a spray adhesive to the clean backside. Might be crazy enough to work!
posted by Don_K at 12:52 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bestine evaporates very fast. It won't damage your sticker.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:43 PM on September 18, 2018

A heat gun, hair dryer or heat lamp. Gently warm and then dental floss can be slipped—worked—under the sticker and used to gently "saw" the sticker off. Will not work on concave surfaces. This is how debadging is usually done.
posted by bz at 9:01 PM on September 19, 2018

« Older Parenting dispute re: playground bullies   |   3D printing software that can split one VWRL file... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.