Preventing Car Stickers From Falling Off a Window or Bumper
Question: How do you keep vinyl bumper stickers or car window decals from being torn off a car or truck?
Answer: Most vinyl bumper stickers or vinyl or polyester car window decals have acrylic adhesive glue affixed to the decal on one side and your car window or bumper on the other. Acrylic adhesives come in varying degrees of toughness, but for the most part, the wind will never tear these stickers from your car.
Many window decals and bumper decals have what is known as “permanent adhesive.” This adhesive takes about 48 to 72 hours to fully purchase to your window or bumper on your car, as long as it’s not too cold (it is best to apply any decal at warmer temperatures to allow the adhesive to purchase, and over 65ºF (18ºC) is best).
Permanent adhesives are not, of course, truly permanent, but they will be tough to remove within days of application to your car or truck. If, say, a year or two down the road, you want to remove the sticker, the best way is to use a hair dryer to heat the decal surface, which will in turn warm the acrylic adhesive and the glass and soften the adhesive, allowing you to pull the vinyl or polyester stickers off your car.
However, you will almost always find that some glue residue will be left on the glass or on your painted or chrome bumper, so if you trundle on over to your local hardware store, you should be able to purchase an inexpensive bottle of citrus-type glue remover, apply it to the remaining glue until it’s saturated, then use a credit card or stiff plastic card to carefully scrape the remaining adhesive from your car’s bumper or window. I usually also have some paper towels with me, and finally will apply a small amount of the glue remover to the paper towel and give the area a final cleaning.
If you are planning to put a new sticker on in the same spot, you will need to have a little isopropyl alcohol (recommended) or soapy water to remove the oily glue remover, as the citrus oil in the glue remover will prevent any new decals from sticking. Then you WILL have a hard time keeping your decals from being torn from your car.
Another acrylic adhesive that is gaining popularity is the removable acrylic adhesive stickers. However, be warned, just because they’re called “removable” doesn’t always mean they’ll be easy to remove. Most “removable” decals have a time limit of six to twelve months before the adhesive hardens off to the point that it becomes pretty much the same as permanent adhesives. There are now, though, two to three year removable adhesives that are available as well, although do be warned, pickers (peeps who like to pick at things like decals) could be able to remove or tear these stickers from your car, although it’s probably not terribly likely. But the wind won’t be able to do much.
Static cling decals are also an immensely popular option for vehicles now as well. However, be warned, these do NOT have any adhesive whatsoever, and stick to glass only because of the plasticizers added to the vinyl these are made of and the softness and stickiness is what adheres them to your glass. But not the outside of your car window. These absolutely WILL be torn from your car if you put them on the exterior glass. Interior application only! If you have tinted windows, you will want the background of your static cling stickers to be white, or no one will likely ever see them.
And one final word regarding reflective stickers and decals – which are also gaining in popularity – at least until you need to peel them. Again, heat is the only good option for removal of reflective decals from painted surfaces like most modern bumpers, but the adhesive is even tougher to remove than the standard permanent adhesive stickers or decals. These stickers are most often used as parking stickers, and therefore are usually put on the front windshield of your car or truck, which is better than if they’re applied to a painted bumper on your vehicle. If they are applied to glass, you can use a razor blade scraper to remove the stickers (again, it’s easier with heat, but can be done without heat). Be sure to use a surfactant, though, to keep the razor blade from scratching the glass. A surfactant is something that makes the surface of the glass slick and is a fancy word for soapy water or the like.