Removing A License Plate Sticker (Without Damage)

Image Credit: John Ramspottderivative work: Mariordo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: John Ramspottderivative work: Mariordo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Removing A License Plate Sticker (Without Damage)


Every year, at the same time of year, you receive a letter in the mail that says you must register your vehicle. The sticker you get from the DMV may go directly on your license plate or on your window shield.

Perhaps, at one point in your life, you were a fan of bumper stickers but one day decide you’d like to take them off. The question is how do you remove these stickers without leaving residue or damage?

Removing these stickers doesn’t need to be a laborious process, and if you follow some simple steps you can remove those stickers without any damage to the sticker or your vehicle.


How to remove an inspection sticker without damage

Inspection stickers are the stickers you receive every year that typically go on your windshield. Perhaps you put the sticker in the wrong vehicle, incorrect location on your windshield, or when you put your sticker on it didn’t go on smoothly and created a bubble. There are a few different ways to remove the old stickers with items you’d find around your house.

  • Window cleaner – Spray the old sticker with window cleaner, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then begin to chip it away with the razor blade. Continue this process until the sticker is gone. The window cleaner will also help to get rid of any leftover residue from the sticker. (Keep in mind this method is great for removing stickers but may cause the sticker to be unusable.)
  • Blow dryer and a plastic razor blade – Use a blow dryer to heat the sticker. As you heat the sticker you should see the edges begin to peel away. At this point, you will be able to slide the plastic razor blade underneath the edge of the sticker. Work slowly as you continue to heat the sticker and move the blade to remove the entire sticker. (If you need to reuse the sticker, this is the route you will want to take. It will give you the best chances of little damage to the actual sticker.)

Are you supposed to remove old registration stickers?

The simple answer is “yes”. You need to remove old registration stickers. The simple reason is you need to stay up to date and replace the old with your new registration sticker. Some states require you to put a small sticker on your license plate indicating the status of your registration. Leaving an old registration sticker on your license plate, even if you have the new one, could warrant being pulled over as well as a fine.

Here is the caveat. There are a few states that don’t require the small registration sticker found on the license plate, so you could technically leave the old sticker. The only problem is if you cross state lines into a state that does require this registration sticker. It could create a headache and put a damper on your trip. With that being said, it’s best to simply remove the old one.


What do you do if your license plate sticker falls off?

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a license plate sticker to fall off or even be stolen. Even though the sticker is gone, you have up-to-date registration, so what do you do? The thing you should not do is nothing. Driving your car without the license plate sticker could result in being pulled over or even a fine. The process is relatively simple and often times costs very little.

The easiest way to go about obtaining a new license plate sticker is to look up your state and “how to get a new license plate sticker” in a search engine. Every state will have a slightly different process, but you’ll most likely need to supply the information for your license plate number, VIN, year, make, and model, pay a small fee, and they will send your new sticker in the mail!

How to remove car stickers without damaging the paint

Let’s talk about the bumper sticker you got years ago and have slowly fallen out of love with. You want to remove it, but you also don’t want to damage the paint on your car. Or maybe you’ve bought a used car, but it’s covered in stickers that need to go. Before you try one of these solutions to remove the unwanted sticker while protecting your car’s exterior, make sure to clean the area with warm soapy water.

  • Blow dryer – You can use the same process you used to remove the inspection sticker as a bumper sticker. Using your blow dryer, heat the bumper sticker. The edges should begin to curl in, and that’s when it’s ready to be pulled off. You can use a razor blade or even a credit card to peel it off.
  • Rubbing alcohol – Apply rubbing alcohol directly to the old sticker, allow it to sit, and you should be able to peel the sticker off your car. You can use the razor blade to lift the corner of the sticker allowing you to pull it off.
  • Vinegar – Put white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the unwanted sticker. Allow it to sit, and you should be able to pull the sticker off!
  • WD-40 – If vinegar fails to do the job, WD-40 can get it done. Spray the WD-40 along the edge of the bumper sticker, and you will be able to pull the old sticker off!
  • Goo GoneGoo Gone is one of the top products for removing stickers and sticker residue. It’s a great product to have on hand in general which is why I’m mentioning it here. Most of the time it’s best to simply use products around the house, but Goo Gone is the best at removing stickers as well as gummy substances from most surfaces.

After you’ve removed the sticker, the only task left is to wipe the area clean, buff it with a microfiber towel, and then wax it. This ensures all residue is gone, and your car’s paint is fully protected.


Removing old registration stickers and replacing them with the new is a yearly task and one that shouldn’t be ignored. 

Thankfully, it’s easy to remove these stickers. The good news is the techniques you can use to remove your registration sticker can be used to remove any old stickers or even to move a new sticker without damage. 

Whether you use a blow dryer, rubbing alcohol, or WD-40, removing old stickers from your car is quick and easy.

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