Before you slap a candidate’s name or any other message on your car’s rear, consider the options for and care of a sticker
The choice of a car can make a statement about you — a luxury car can say wealthy, or a compact car can say practical. But there’s another way to have your car speak for you: Put a bumper sticker on it.
Expect to see a lot more bumper stickers in the next year, as the presidential race speeds up for the election held a year from today. But before you slap a candidate’s name or any other message on your car’s rear, consider the options for and care of a sticker.
You can order bumper stickers from almost all the candidates’ websites. They’re $5 each for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, free for Jeb Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Or head over to presidentialelection.com, which is selling bumper stickers not only for 2016 candidates, but for several from the past, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
Most bumper-sticker makers say the stickers are removable, just in case the election doesn’t go in your favor.
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Or you can make your own sticker. There are scores of websites that allow you to customize a sticker. At
makestickers.com, you can choose a template, plug in words, upload your own picture or logo, or choose graphics for political, sports or comic passions. At zazzle
.com, there are thousands of choices for bumper stickers — many customizable — that print on waterproof vinyl.
Need to remove your bumper sticker? The easiest way to do so is with heat, says Homer Formby, owner of Fremont Auto Detail. “I just use a heat gun and they peel right off,” he says.
For the do-it-yourselfer, Formby has a caution. “If you’ve never done it before, I recommend a professional, because you can damage the paint.”
“If you apply too much heat, then you might be removing the paint off with the sticker,” says Mike Rafael, owner of Mr. Detail in Seattle.
To remove a bumper sticker at home, Rafael says, “A nice approach would be with a hair dryer. Hair dryers provide enough heat.” For older, more-stubborn stickers, Rafael says the heat gun is the way to go.
To remove any sticker adhesive that might remain on the paint, he adds, a solvent such as Goof Off can finish the job.
Both detailers say it’s important to not leave stickers on for a long time. “I’ve removed bumper stickers that are pretty old,” Rafael says. “And after removing it, it left a border of where the sticker was — the outline — and it kind of raised the paint a little bit.”
Formby says maroon- or black-painted bumpers often show more damage from stickers. “What happens is the car [paint] will tend to fade, and then when you do eventually take the bumper sticker off, you’re going to see two shades,” he says.
It’s best to put stickers on rear or side windows rather than bumpers, Formby says. “Just put it on the back window, then it just comes off with a razor blade,” he says. “You’re still going to see it, and then if you’re in love with your president, you can leave it on until [their] term is up.”