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Taking this marvellous question as inspiration, I travel a lot by car, often in countries that require me to buy a vignette to use the motorways. Moreover it is usually mandatory to stick the vignette inside the windshield of the car, to prevent re-use. However, these vignettes are designed to tear off in mosaic-sized pieces as soon as one attempts to remove them, this too probably to prevent re-use.

Since I am fed up of collecting vignettes from various countries and solar years, I would like to start removing all the unnecessary ones. Is there a smart and effective way to remove these tough stickers from the inside of my car wind-shield without damaging neither it nor the car?

  • 1
    Use a scraper or razor blade, and, if you can get it where you live, a product called "Goo Gone". The thing is magic! (No, I'm not in any way affiliated with the product or company) – TylerH Mar 18 '15 at 15:23
  • It's just amazing that they sell these little stickers for €10-15 and then you will have to spend €50 worth of your time removing the residue glue. It would be much better if they entered agreements with operators of other toll roads for the billing, and using chip readers or registration plate recognition to identify the vehicles. – Isak Swahn Aug 6 '16 at 6:56
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They want to make the stickers difficult to remove to discourage moving them from vehicle to vehicle. It is a global frustration.

There are many blog posts about removing parking decals, inspection cards, and other stickers from the inside of a car windshield, including the question How do I remove old stickers from my windshield? at Mechanics.SE. The accepted (and solitary) answer there states

For vinyl stickers I've had good experience warming them up with a hairdryer to soften the glue and then slowly peeling them off. I've also managed to get them off a windshield using a scraper … To remove the glue residue I've had good experience with both WD40 (which you can also use to soften paper stickers) and tar spot remover

For myself, living in a place where annual registration and vehicle inspection must be displayed in the windshield and changed annually, this seems excessive; at the very least, I'd need to purchase quite a few extension cords to run a hairdryer out to my car.

Method 1: Scraper

Safety razor blade

The razor blade is a commodity item on this side of the pond, and can be purchased in any home improvement store and even many supermarkets and pharmacies. The metal is softer than the windshield glass, and so it is difficult to scratch the glass if you are careful.

  1. Especially for vinyl stickers, the adhesive may be loosened with heat. Running the car's defroster for several minutes helps.

  2. Use the razor blade to loosen a corner of the sticker and work it through the adhesive with very short strokes. Once you have pried up enough of it to grip with one hand, peel it back with slight pressure and continue using the razor blade to pry up the remainder of it.

  3. When all of the sticker is removed, I use the same blade to scrape off the remaining adhesive. If the remaining film is very thin, sometimes it is more easily rubbed off with a washcloth and ammonia-based cleaner or isopropyl alcohol.

This is the only method I use as I do not trust myself not to drip a solvent onto the dashboard or elsewhere in the car.

Method 2: Solvent and scraper

The above can be a tedious process, and you can speed it up mightily applying a solvent with a washcloth to dissolve the adhesive. Which kind is most effective depends on the kind of adhesive, naturally, but commonly suggested solvents include

  • Acetone (found in nail polish remover)
  • Degreasing products containing citrus oils (e.g. "Goo Gone")
  • Hairspray
  • Hot water
  • Strong vinegar
  • WD-40 or another penetrating oil
  • Baby oil or vegetable oil
  • Peanut butter

These can be messy, and some of them are highly corrosive/irritating. A single drip onto the dashboard may discolor or damage it permanently, and fumes may linger long after the removal process is completed. Moreover, you may accidentally get some on stickers that need to stay put. Use at your own risk, in a well-ventilated area, using gloves or other appropriate safety gear.

With the weaker solvents, it may take some time to dissolve enough adhesive to be useful; for peanut butter, some say to soak overnight. Once you are ready, a small amount of dishwashing liquid or another light detergent may help break up the oil-imbued adhesive. Ideally, you might be able to peel off the sticker without scraping, though you may still find a razor blade helpful to peel up a corner to get started.

3. Method 3: Don't get stickered

One "hack" for self-applied stickers is to use a phone screen protector; apply the sticker to it, then apply the protector to the windshield. You can trim off the excess, and since the protector is transparent, you should be all right with the authorities— or at least escape official notice. Being designed to be semi-permanent, the adhesive on the protector is strong but not impossible to remove.

I cannot say as to whether some jurisdictions might require windshield stickers to be "permanently affixed" or some such, and whether this would pass muster. And of course, there are cases where the sticker must be applied by the inspector/official/mechanic directly, in which case you have no choice. But in cases where you're acquiring and applying the sticker yourself, this would seem convenient and inexpensive. There are some commercial products ("sticker shields") that may be slightly cheaper, but these days a smartphone screen protector is very easy to find.

  • +1 for actually suggesting peanut butter as a solvent. :) All jokes aside I like all the suggestions here. – JoErNanO Mar 17 '15 at 23:20
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    Be careful with the razor blade method if the sticker is on the rear windshield. This usually has the resistive traces for the defogger on the inside surface. If you cut one of them with your razor blade, the defogger may not work anymore. – Nate Eldredge Mar 18 '15 at 3:55
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    When I worked at a state inspection station in a state that pasted inspection stickers in the corner of the windshield, we just used the razor blades pictured above in a long handled scraper tool like this one. We never used any type of solvent, the scraper was fast and effective on its own -- and these were tamper resistant stickers designed not to peel off easily. – Johnny Mar 18 '15 at 4:46
  • What I always do instead of the hair-drier: Park in the sun, wait, peel off. Works like a charm...when it's sunny. – SBI Mar 18 '15 at 12:09
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    Attention: In some jurisdictions using a screen protector or similar is considered an fraud attempt; e.g. in Austria this is fined with at least 300 EUR. – Simon Nov 30 '15 at 12:20
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@choster already covered all the details but a simpler answer is: Just do it, it's really easy (much easier, in my experience, than removing price tags or the type of stickers described in the other question). There is really no need to be too smart about it.

A razor blade as scrapper makes it slightly easier but in my experience removing a vignette after one year is not a problem at all (removing it earlier might be, I don't know). It's true that the vignette is typically designed to fall apart when removed but that's OK. There might be some minute traces of adhesive left on the windshield as well but it never bothered me either. You can just put the next vignette on the same spot.

The main reason people worry so much about solvents, scrappers and other tricks is to avoid damaging the vignette (which is only important if you want to cheat and transfer it to another car). I don't do this but a friend of mine once used hand cream (applied directly to the windshield before the sticker) to make it easier to remove the vignette and it worked fine.

This answer is based on my personal experience with the Swiss (virtually every year for decades) and Austrian (a few times) motorway vignettes, I don't have any first-hand experience with other countries.

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There are two types of situations, in my opinion:

  1. You have to stick the vignette yourself;
  2. Someone else has done it, and now you have to undo it, without leaving adhesive marks on the windshield, where they can be naggingly obvious.

As I travel a lot through Europe and these things are still mandatory in some countries, and I only need one for 10 days or so, what I usually do is stick the vignette once or twice heartily to my jeans. An then stick it to the windshield. Apparently the lint and micro fibers from clothes adhere to the vignette and decrease its grip while being an invisible free solution.

If someone else has stuck the thing to the windshield, the deed is done. Quickest way is scraper and alcohol, as I do not recommend WD40 or lighter fluid simply because they are inflammable and highly volatile. In other words, dangerous in the confined space of a vehicle. And also, they smell pretty bad.

  • Is ethyl alcohol not flammable too? – mdewey May 3 at 14:19
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You can also try using a hairdryer to heat up the sticker, after which it will peel off the windshield with little to no residue left behind. It doesn't need to get too hot; 30 seconds should be more than enough if the ambient air temperature is 20C. The hairdryer works for me when removing UPC stickers off of boxes for mail-in rebates.

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You need a product called Sticker Shield. Basically it is a piece of transparent plastic that the sticker sticks to, then the plastic sticks to your window. Reportedly the stickers look just like permanently attached stickers.

(I bet if you could find the right plastic you could just make your own too. It's like the phone screen protector idea but these things are removable, designed so you can swap a "permanent" parking pass or similar between multiple vehicles.)

This comes from Cool Tools, A Catalog of Possibilities, by Kevin Kelly, the submission by Joseph Stirt. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Anyone who sees mine wants it.

Please excuse the overly commercial-looking links. I can't find much of a web page for the product, just the order form. I have no connection with the Sticker Shield people or Cool Tools.

  • i like this answer. the best way to deal with stickers is to not actually stick them to your car. – ell Mar 18 '15 at 20:20
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    It is worth mentioning in your answer that this practice is illegal in most countries in which a vignette is required. – JoErNanO Mar 18 '15 at 22:21
  • Very worth mentioning. I'm not familiar with vignettes or their rules at all, doing most of my driving in a country with its own continent. We have toll roads but they all use electronic tags. – Adam Eberbach Mar 18 '15 at 22:49

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