How to Remove a Stubborn Sticker from Your Car

How to Remove a Stubborn Sticker from Your Car
Authored By Michael Soltis 0 Comment(s)

It’s a great day when you get a new or new-to-you car! Your own set of wheels means freedom and independence. But cars, especially new ones, can have a few unwanted attachments – stickers. If you are looking to remove car stickers to get rid of unwanted bumper stickers, window decals, or car door advertising, you have come to the right place. This guide will explain how to remove car stickers from a variety of car surfaces.

Metal vs fiberglass

Most car bodies are made from steel, aluminum, or fiberglass. The older models are more likely to be metal, the new ones are more likely to be fiberglass. Paint on metal flakes and chips away over time. When your remove car stickers from metal, you need to be sure not to disturb the paint.

Chances are, if you need to remove car stickers from a steel or aluminum body, you are working on an older or used car. The price may be have been right and the mileage low, but the profusion of political affiliate bumper stickers for a party you don’t support, the band stickers from bands you have never heard of, religious slogans and more may have you shaking your head! Don’t just pull these stickers off. You could take paint with them. To remove car stickers from metal car bodies, apply a little heat.

Old stickers should dislodge easily when you use a hair dryer to soften the adhesive. If the sticker is really stubborn, rub it with vegetable oil, let it sit for an hour or so, then use the hair dryer to apply heat. Don’t blast the highest heat in this case as you’ll also be warming up the oil. Remember, solvents can affect the paint so avoid ones like nail polish remover.

Once you have loosened the sticker, either slowly and gently start to peel it away, or wipe it away with warm water and detergent if it is dissolving. If you start to peel and the paint is loosening, stop and apply more heat.

Fiberglass is more forgiving. If the sticker is already a little loose you can gently peel it away, then wipe the surface with warm water and detergent to get rid of leftover adhesive. If the sticker won’t give after a gentle tug, use the heat and/or oil and heat method.

No matter what your car is made of, avoid scraping or gouging the sticker with a sharp tool. Only remove car stickers in ways that won’t scratch the surface.

Car advertising signs

Some entrepreneurs have custom signage created for their vehicle. You want to remove car stickers that are ads right away in order to avoid being asked about a product you aren’t selling.

Car stickers are a little more complex. If they have been on the car for a long time, or have been created and applied by a professional, you may want to look into having detail shop handle the removal. The paint underneath could be faded and you might want a touch up so you don’t have two toned spots on the car. Additionally, professionally installed car decals have industrial grade adhesive that can withstand a good amount of heat. Strong adhesives call for strong solvents.

If the sticker is already old and peeling, you can try the heat-and-remove method above. But if it is resistant, go to the pros.

Window decals

My stick family! This is a fun ongoing trend but when you buy a used car, you don’t need to be showing off someone else’s family! You can easily remove car stickers from windows as most of them are decals. Although the word sticker and decal are used interchangeably, there are differences. A window decal will be one of the following: a traditional sticker, a decal using static cling, or adhesive vinyl.

For a traditional sticker, use the heat and peel method above. There is no paint to worry about, so you can gently peel or even lightly scrape the sticker away if needed. Static cling decals do not use any adhesive at all. You’ll be able to remove these by simply loosening an edge and peeling them away. On the other hand, adhesive vinyl is placed and set with transfer tape. It’s more difficult to remove adhesive vinyl than it is a regular sticker. Apply heat from a hair dryer, work an edge away from the surface, then continue to apply gentle heat downwards from the loose edge as you keep tension on the raised edge to pull the vinyl away from the glass. If this is new or professionally set vinyl, you may need a detailer’s help.

Bonus Content: What if you want to put a sticker on your car?

Bumper stickers, window decals, advertising signs – maybe you want to personalize these and put them on your car. The good news is, it’s quick and easy to do so! Making stickers is fun and all you need is a computer or laptop, printable sticker vinyl, and a printer. Within minutes, you can start making your own bumper stickers. You can cut shapes from non-printable adhesive vinyl to make window decals, but it’s easier to work with adhesive vinyl if you have a cutting tool like a CriCut®. Remember, if you are working with adhesive vinyl, you’ll also need good quality transfer tape.


To remove car stickers that are stubborn, use a gentle heat source. Stickers on the car body could affect the finish or paint, so work slowly and carefully. Window stickers and decals are easier to remove, especially if they are static cling. Once you have removed car stickers you don’t want, you can easily make your own window decals or bumper stickers with printable vinyl or adhesive vinyl.

Ready to get started? Royal Elements has everything you need to make car stickers. Our online store sells printable vinyl, adhesive vinyl, and heat transfer vinyl along with transfer tape, laminating sheets, magnetic sheets, and more. We love to see the projects you make using Royal Elements products. Post your results online with the hashtag #royalelementsstickers so we can feature your designs on our social networks (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube).  Visit to learn more.


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