It’s time to remove political bumper stickers
November 5, 2008
Most partisans agree that nothing goes out of fashion faster than political slogans, but that doesn’t mean they go away. The quips that pop up during elections have a way of sticking to cars and trucks long after punch lines have lost their humor, votes have been cast and candidates have issued tearful concession speeches.
Who could forget Barack Obama’s "Yes, we can!" or John McCain’s "Country First" slogans? "Read My Lipstick" or "McSame?"
It turns out few can, even if they want to.
Bumper stickers appear more frequently than license plates digits on some cars during elections, but they quickly become dated fragments of kitsch on Nov. 5, especially if they pronounce undying allegiance to losing candidates or unfairly lambaste newly elected officials.
Volunteers handed out more than 20,000 bumper stickers at the Obama for America Utah office in the last several months, and although local Republican officials didn’t return phone calls, it’s fair to assume that thousands of drivers plastered pro-McCain stickers on bumpers and windows to show support.
For partisans in both camps, though, adhesive is nearly as difficult to shrug off as an electoral loss.
Car and truck owners need to be careful to strip stickers off vehicles without scratching glass, chipping paint or leaving adhesive blemishes behind.
Car experts say that bumper stickers are like Band Aids: It is best if they come right off. "If it’s something owners don’t want forever, if it’s temporary, remove them within a year," said Wayne Devey, an estimator at the Ken Garff Collision Center.
The trouble most people face is removing the stickers without scratching paint. Sven Kristoffersen sees key scratches on bumpers and chrome bodies often. "Don’t use keys [to scrape off stickers]," he said, "because they’re too thick." Kristoffersen, who works at Park City Chrysler Jeep Dodge, recommends applying heat, either with an industrial-strength gun or a blow dryer, before peeling stickers off with thin razor blades, like the ones used for shaving. Start peeling from a corner and make sure the paint isn’t coming off with the sticker.
If heat and a blade don’t loosen adhesive, apply about an ounce of paint thinner on the sticker. "Don’t use nail polish removal," Devey advised, because paint removers are designed to strip paint. Thinners are the way to go.
But before applying any acetone-based solvent, test it on a spot that’s usually hidden from view, like the underside of a bumper, according to Jon Brady, an estimator at Maedel’s Body Shop. That way, if paint gets eaten away, the blemish won’t be visible.
For owners who don’t want to gamble with generic paint thinners, swing by an auto shop for decal and adhesive remover that sells for $12 to $15.
For stickers affixed to windows, use heat and a blade and douse the sticker with glass cleaner. Stickers should never be applied to the inside of windows because they can damage special tints, he added. And for next time, bumper stickers made of rubber are easier to remove than paper-thin kinds.
Devey said he isn’t sure whether car dealers and body shops will see an influx of customers who want bumper sticker peeled off in the coming days, but he wouldn’t be surprised. "I guess it depends on who they voted for," he said, adding that he didn’t see a large influx after the 2004 presidential election.