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Do Bumper Stickers Damage Car Paint?

Car on road with stickers in bumper.

The bumper sticker itself isn’t what damages car paint. It’s what you use to get the bumper sticker off that can damage the car’s finish. You should never place a bumper sticker anywhere on your car other than the bumper.

I remember when I was finally the legal age to vote. I covered my car bumper with stickers promoting my favorite candidate. When the next election rolled around, I felt weird for still driving around with stickers from the last election.

I had a horrible time trying to remove the stickers which left sticky residue all over my bumper. I was afraid that I’d ruin the paint if I used any strong solvent to remove the stickers.

If you’re in the same boat, you can remove bumper stickers without damaging the paint. You just have to use gentle products to remove the sticker. 

Do Bumper Stickers Damage Paint?

Car on road with stickers in bumper.

Some bumper stickers had a backing of strong adhesive that would hold up to all types of weather. These are the most difficult type of bumper stickers to remove from your car.

If you try to peel them off your car, you could remove the finish or even some paint, especially if they’ve been there for a long time. So, what do you do to get the bumper stickers off your car without ruining the paint?

If you attach the bumper sticker to the surface of your car, when you remove it, the paint underneath won’t match the rest of your car. It will be darker because the area wasn’t exposed to the sun. 

How do I remove bumper stickers without damaging the paint?

There are several DIY solutions available that will remove bumper stickers without damaging the paint. I haven’t tried all of these, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all work. 


A small white bowl with mayonnaise.

Rub mayonnaise all over the bumper sticker and allow it to soak in. It helps dissolve the glue for easy removal. Most likely, it’s the vinegar in this product that works to dissolve the glue.


 Always dilute the vinegar with water before using it on car paint because it can dull the finish. Let the vinegar soak into the sticker and carefully remove it from the car. If you feel it sticking, add more vinegar.

Hair dryer 

A hand holding with hair dryer.

A hair dryer works well to dissolve the adhesive on the bumper sticker. Slowly heat the sticker, being careful not to hold it in one spot too long. The heat can damage the paint. Try to peel off the edge. If it comes off, continue peeling the sticker until you remove it.

Cold cream

Since cold cream removes makeup, some people say it also works for bumper stickers. Smear cold cream on the sticker and let it soak in. Try peeling it off at the corner. If it gets snagged, continue applying cold cream until you remove the sticker.

Are there bumper sticker adhesive removal products I can use to safely get off bumper stickers?

Goo Gone Automotive - Cleans Auto Interiors, Auto Bodies and Rims, Removes Bugs & Stickers - 12 Fl. Oz.

Auto parts stores carry adhesive removal products designed for removing bumper stickers. These products are designed to loosen the glue that makes the sticker adhere to the bumper, so you can remove it without damaging the paint.

Even with these adhesive removal products, always use caution when removing bumper stickers, so you don’t lift any paint off your car.

How do I use bumper sticker adhesive removal spray?

To get started, spray the adhesive remover on the sticker and allow it to soak in. Use your fingernail to loosen the edge of the sticker and start peeling it off. Most likely, you’ll have to spray the adhesive remover onto the back of the bumper sticker as you continue to remove it.

Be patient and go slowly. Just peel a little bit at a time. If you go too fast, you could damage the paint.

I’ve noticed that even if the glue on the edges loosens up when I reach the middle of the bumper sticker, it’s firmly stuck to the bumper. In this case, spray more adhesive remover on the sticker and let it stand for a few minutes.

Make sure you read the instructions on the label because every product is a little different. If you take your time, the bumper sticker should come off without damaging the car’s paint. Use a soft cloth to wipe off any sticker residue.

What should I do if the bumper sticker left blemishes on my car’s paint?

A man worker polishing a car.

Sometimes, removing the bumper sticker can leave blemishes on your car’s paint. Polishing the area that has the blemish should help it blend in better with the rest of the paint.

Try smearing car polish on the area and use a foam pad fitted onto a polisher to polish the surface. A car detailer can also do this for you with good results.

Will bumper stickers devalue my car?

Yes, bumper stickers lower the resale value of your car. When a buyer sees the bumper sticker, they see the headache it will be to get it off.

Not only that, they don’t know if the paint is damaged under the bumper sticker. Your best bet is to remove the bumper sticker before you try selling your car.

Do vinyl bumper sticker graphics ruin car paint?

BLAKAYA 2PCS Vinyl Universal Graphics Auto Body Side Stripe Door Sticker Body Sticker Racing Sports Self-Adhesive Decal Decoration for All Cars U001 Black

Modern vinyl bumper sticker graphics can spark up the appearance of your car. Unfortunately, they can ruin the paint. Removing vinyl stickers is difficult, especially if they’ve been in place for several years.

The most significant damage you’ll see to the paint after removing the vinyl decals is that the color won’t match. Whatever the design of the decal was, it will show up in the paint.

Vinyl bumper stickers and decals have strong adhesive. If you try peeling them off, the paint can come off with the bumper sticker.

Heating the vinyl bumper sticker helps with removal, but you have to do it at a snail’s pace to prevent paint damage.