Caring for Magnetic Bumper Stickers

Magnetic stickers should be kept away from credit cards, floppy disks, hard drives, videotapes, audio tapes and other magnetic media. Though most people do not experience any problems with their magnetic bumper stickers, a few have experienced problems such as difficulty removing the magnetic bumper stickers from vehicles. We have sold thousands of magnetic stickers and have had only one complaint thus far.

We believe such problems may be due in part to exposure to intense sunlight and consequent heat. The magnetic material is a kind of plastic and may become soft enough to bond with some vehicle finishes under certain circumstances. Waxing a vehicle just before  application of the magnetic bumper stickers may also cause a similar problem, as the wax, when still soft, can act as a kind of glue.

The following recommendations are designed primarily to reduce the potential for magnetic bumper stickers to bond to vehicles:

1. Remove magnetic bumper stickers regularly and clean them. If you encounter difficulty removing your magnetic bumper stickers, see the suggestions below for tips on removal.  If you use your vehicle daily, or park outdoors, weekly cleaning is advisable. Those who park indoors and use their vehicles less often might only need to clean their stickers once a month. 

In cold weather, it may help to pre-heat the magnetic sticker with warm water before removing. This will make the magnetic material more flexible and reduce the risk of cracking. 

To clean the magnetic stickers, use running water (room temperature) and a soft cloth or sponge.  Avoid scouring or rubbing grit across the face of the stickers. Do not use soap unless necessary. If soap is used, use only a mild liquid soap and rinse thoroughly. Do not soak stickers in standing water or leave under running water any longer than necessary to clean. Air dry stickers completely before re-applying. 

2. Clean the area of the vehicle where the stickers are to be re-applied. If soap is used, rinse thoroughly. Dry the area completely before re-applying magnetic stickers.

3. Some in the magnetic sign industry suggest waxing the brownish side of the magnetic material as well as the vehicle before applying the magnetic sign (or magnetic sticker) in order to protect the vehicle. However, most vehicles are sold with a clear-coat finish and waxing the vehicle before applying a magnetic bumper sticker is likely overkill in most cases. Applying wax to the back side of the bumper sticker is probably a good idea if you have some handy. Furniture polish or an Armor-all type spray-on protectant might also do the trick. (The goal here is to reduce the ability of the magnetic material to bond with the vehicle finish.) However, anything that makes the back of a magnetic sticker more slippery might also make it more likely to fly off when the vehicle is moving at high speed, at least theoretically. And products other than automotive wax might  discolor your vehicle finish.  If you do use wax, wait until the wax has fully cured (hardened) before re-applying the magnetic bumper stickers. This may take 24 hours or more in some cases.

4. When you re-apply a magnetic sticker, consider moving it to a different location on the vehicle. Your magnetic sticker will block ultraviolet light from reaching your vehicle. If left in one place for a period of many months or years, you may notice that your vehicle has faded everywhere except where the sticker was blocking the sunlight. The darker your vehicle, the greater the potential for uneven fading. Moving your sticker periodically will help to reduce the potential for uneven fading.

5. Whenever you are going to wash your vehicle, remove magnetic stickers first. Make sure to rinse all soap off of the vehicle. Do not re-apply magnetic stickers until the vehicle is completely dry. If any form of wax has been applied, wait until wax has fully cured (hardened) before applying magnetic bumper stickers. This may take 24 hours or more in some cases.

6. Do not apply magnetic bumper stickers to a freshly painted vehicle until the paint is completely dry. Some in the industry advise waiting 90 days for paint to cure (60 days for clearcoat) before applying magnetic material. However, it is probably safe to apply magnetic bumper stickers during the last half of the curing period provided that the stickers are removed daily and/or only left on the vehicle while it is in use.

7. Consider taking steps to reduce direct exposure to sunlight. This is probably more important with darker colored stickers and darker vehicles that absorb more heat. You may want to park facing toward the sun if the stickers are on the back of your vehicle. You may want to park in a garage or in the shade when this option is available. This will help to reduce the likelihood of bonding while also reducing problems of fading, both for the sticker, and the vehicle.

A radical alternative:

If your vehicle is older, and you are not too concerned about preserving the finish, you might try this very low-tech approach to prevent bonding:

Apply the magnetic sticker when the vehicle has a visible film of road dirt on it. The dirt under the sticker should keep the sticker from bonding tightly to the vehicle. You will want to take the sticker off periodically (maybe once a month) just to keep it loose, and to make sure rust is not forming under the sticker. The dirt between the sticker and the vehicle will likely cause tiny scratches to the finish over time, and the dirt could conceivably become embedded in the finish. Also, the sticker will not hold quite as tightly to the vehicle and may be more likely to fly off when the vehicle is moving at high speed (at least theoretically). But at least you won't have to wash your magnetic sticker every week.

The following suggestions are intended to assist in the removal of magnetic bumper stickers that have become bonded to vehicles:

1. Carefully run your fingernail along the edge of the magnetic material where it touches the vehicle. This will help in two ways. First, it will help to break any bond that may exist at the edge where wax etc. may have accumulated. Second, it will help you to discover any places where the magnetic material is loose. Another option is to use a toothbrush dampened with liquid soap to scrub along the edge of the sticker. You will want to start removing the magnetic material at the points where it is loose.

2. Fill a pitcher or large glass with warm or hot tap water. Hotter is probably better up to a point. Boiling or scalding hot water is NOT recommended. Mix in a spoonful of liquid dish soap. Slowly pour the hot soapy water over the magnetic sticker. Warming the sticker will cause it to expand and may loosen it a bit. Also, the soap, when it gets under the sticker, will help to further loosen the bond. DO NOT PULL HARD ON THE STICKER WHILE IT IS HOT! When the sticker is hot, it is more prone to stretching or coming apart under stress.

3. If you continue to have difficulty, you might try pouring ice water over the sticker. In very difficult cases, alternating between pouring cold and hot water over the sticker a few times may help to loosen the sticker. It is best to pull on the sticker while it is at room temperature, or slightly above. Hot stickers may stretch or come apart. Cold stickers may crack.

4. If you continue to have difficulty, try using a Q-tip or very small paintbrush to brush liquid dish-soap under any loose portions of the sticker. If necessary, let the soap soak in for a few minutes before trying again to gently pull off the sticker.

5. Another thing you could possibly try as a last resort is taking your car to a commercial car wash and using a high-pressure sprayer to try spraying the sticker loose. Be sure to spray only with water and soap (wax would likely make the problem worse).

If you damage your sticker while attempting to remove it, you may return the damaged sticker to CarryaBigSticker and we will replace them at no charge. Please do not send stickers C.O.D.

We hope to update these recommendations on our Web site from time to time based on input from our customers. Send your comments and questions to Team (at) CarryaBigSticker (dot) com.  

Below are some reports from customers about magnetic bumper stickers and the bonding issue:

My husband and I have been using these type of stickers lor a long time and all we do is use the spray on/wipe off type of wax on the vehicle and the back of the sticker both each time we wash the vehicle.  We've never had a problem and both of our cars are parked outside 100% of the time. ... We use the Turtle Wax Spray on - you just have to spray it on and wipe it off (on both the vehicle and the sign) and let it dry a few minutes (2-3 tops) and then you're good to go.

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Thank you for letting me know about the possible problem. I live in San Antonio and it has been so hot that last week they proved you could cook a egg on the sidewalk. I work and have to park outside I have 2 of your magnetic stickers in the direct extreme sun and have no problems...but I now will take them off on days that I do not use my car to give them time to breathe. ... My car is cleaned personally by me every other week and if it rains then I will clean it then my car is in prfect condition and its a 1988 Mercedes so in the back I can put 2 bumper stickers on. Of course I take them off to clean the car but apart from that they stay on in the direct hot sun. Now I do put this special wax that makes the car look good and doesn't get dirty as if I didn't put it on but I don't know if that would have anything to do with it. 

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I purchased 3 magnetic bumperstickers about 2 weeks ago, and I CANNOT get them off my car.

I removed them last weekend to wash my car, and after drying put them back on. I think it's been about 7 days. I tried to remove them today to wash my car again and only one came off (with some force), the other two are stuck like glue, any ideas on how to remove these?

I have a 2003 Subaru and got the magnets so as not to mar the finish on my car, but it doesn't look promising so far. ... 

I had to use a hair dryer to heat them up enough to free them a bit. It still left lots of bits of magnet stuck to the car, which I then had to scrape off with a damp cloth. I then had to use buffing compound to remove the scratch marks I made while scraping.

I advise you to try some of those magnetic bumper stickers on a glossy car for a week in the sun before you sell any more just to check and see if they are faulty, or I am faulty.

www.CarryaBigSticker.com is not responsible for damages that may result from the use of bumper stickers or magnetic bumper stickers.