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Removing Car Decal Wrinkles & Putting Stickers on Tinted Windows

rear window decals

How to eliminate wrinkles from window Decals, and to install car stickers on windows with tints.

Question:  How do I remove a wrinkle from a car window decal?

The answer will depend on when you installed it.

If Under 4 Hours

If it’s been under 4 hours, a little heat from a hair dryer and carefully peeling the sticker back  until the wrinkle has been lifted, then a little heat to soften the decal, and it should lay down relatively flat, with maybe a hint that it was wrinkled at one time, but not so you’d notice.

If 1 Day has Passed

car window stickersOn the other hand, if the sticker was applied yesterday, the adhesive will have “purchased” whatever it is stuck to fairly permanently, unless it’s a removable sticker material, in which case, the previous paragraph is relevant only in using the heat to remove (most of) the wrinkle.

Using a Heat Gun

However, if it’s a “normal” vinyl sticker, your best bet is to use a heat gun on high heat to soften the vinyl to the point it’s malleable, and using a thumb or finger, try to gently pull the material and glue away from the wrinkle.

This works sometimes, but not always. Even as a vinyl installation professional, I’ve had times where I simply pulled the material off and got a new piece of vinyl and started over again. However, if you don’t have this option, the only two you have is above, so it’s best if you have a lot of decals to install, as on a race car, that you work on one sticker at a time.

Caveat #1: if you’re installing reflective vinyl, all bets are off. This material is full of glass beads, so the vinyl doesn’t hold together, and comes of in small pieces, and you WILL need to start over with a new decal. Sorry.

Caveat #2: If your sticker is applied to a material that doesn’t take heat well, like a soft plastic, using a heat gun may produce a result you REALLY don’t want! Melting the underlying material. This provides that sinking feeling and accompanying bad thoughts and maybe even some unsavory language when you ruin whatever it was you were trying to decorate or undecorate.

If you’ve gone past that point and you’re looking for a “fix” to your dilemma, and if you’re working on glass or a rigid plastic (and hopefully thicker plastic) like fiberglass, polycarbonate, or acrylic, mainly you’ll need to be careful not to scratch the surface of the material you’ve applied your polyester or vinyl stickers to. Good luck!

Question:  I purchased a new car and got some cool stickers with it from the dealer, but I waited until I got my windows tinted before I install them, but now I’m wondering if the windows will be OK to put vinyl window stickers on. It’s been a week since the windows were tinted.

automotive car dealsWindow tinting is done on the inside of the glass, so if you’re putting the stickers on the outside of the glass, there won’t be any issue at all. Because the tinting is applied with a liquid to the inside of the glass, it is not likely to take more than 24 hours until you can apply your face adhering stickers to the inside of the glass.

The trick will be to be careful to not scratch the tinting when you go to remove the stickers later on as it is a mylar material (polyester), and is susceptible to surface abrasion. However, if you use moderate heat (like a heat gun on the lowest heat setting or a hair dryer at any setting, you should give yourself a good chance of removing the old sticker without affecting the window tinting. See the section above to see how to remove stickers successfully.


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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn’t what he thought he’d do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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