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Removing That Darn City Sticker? Here Are Five Tips For Making It Easier

By Mike Brockway | July 9, 2013 7:11am
 Drivers all over Chicago are arming themselves with razor blades to do battle with the dreaded expired city sticker.
Drivers all over Chicago are arming themselves with razor blades to do battle with the dreaded expired city sticker.
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The Expired Meter.com

CHICAGO — City sticker season is almost over.

As many of the 1.3 million city vehicle owners begin to put their 2013-2014 stickers on their cars before the July 15 deadline, they first have to go through the pain and frustration of getting last year’s sticker off their windshields.

There are easy ways to do it, Chicago City Clerk spokeswoman Kristine Kappel said.

Kappel, who has spent many years working the front lines for the annual city sticker sales, has amassed vast knowledge on removing those darn stickers.

She said the good news is last year’s stickers are pretty easy to remove.

“A lot of stickers this year have been coming out without much effort,” Kappel said. “People in line have told me they haven’t had too many problems removing their city sticker this year. So hopefully it’s not too much of a hard workout.”

But for those problematic stickers refusing to be removed, Kappel has five tips and tricks for Chicago drivers.

Tip No. 1 — Windex

Kappel said the method endorsed by City Clerk Susana Mendoza is a bottle of Windex, a razor blade and some paper towels.

"Clerk Mendoza uses Windex-brand window cleaner to spray the city sticker first," Kappel said. "She then proceeds to use a methodical, almost surgical-like, precision to remove her sticker. She pulls at the sticker a bit, sprays and then chips at it with a razor blade little by little. Pull, spray, chip over and over."

Tip No. 2 — Peanut Butter

Kappel said some choosy motorists are using Jif, Skippy or any other standard peanut butter in the yearly sticker removal process.

"One person told me she puts peanut butter on her sticker, lets it sit and then scrapes it off with a razor blade," Kappel said. "Yes, we all thought she was crazy, but she swore it works better than just scraping."

Tip No. 3 — Ice

Kappel said using an ice pack with a razor blade is another option.

“Hold an ice pack against the sticker for a few minutes,” Kappel said. “Cooling it off should make it easy to pull off the glass. It’s like when you get gum in your hair and you use ice to freeze it to make it easier to remove.”

Tip No. 4 — Rubbing alcohol

Standard rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol, is another alternative. Kappel said the alcohol will strip away the sticker’s adhesive backing, making it much easier to peel away from the glass.

Tip No. 5 — Goo Gone

Another option is Goo Gone, Kappel said. Spray it on the sticker, wait a few moments and the sticker should come right off with very little effort.

Although removing window decals is a standard use for Goo Gone, the product’s manufacturer recommends using it in a “well ventilated area.”

Other substances, including lacquer thinner or acetone, would work, but are very strong and possibly overkill for something like a window decal.

Once the sticker is removed, the new one must be applied to the lowest portion of the passenger side of the windshield in order to be displayed properly, Kappel said. This is the main reason the clerk’s office recommends removing the expired stickers from the windshield first, but there are safety reasons as well.

“Not only does your city sticker need to be displayed in the lower right portion of your windshield, for safety reasons you don’t want too many stickers blocking or impairing your view,” she said.

But perhaps the most important tip the City Clerk’s office has for city drivers is buying and displaying your city sticker by July 15. Enforcement begins on July 16, and tickets for failure to display the sticker carry penalties of $200 per day.

“Our office is most concerned you have a city sticker on your car by the July 15 deadline before enforcement starts July 16,” Kappel said. “Don’t wait until the last minute. It must be displayed on your car. It doesn’t count if you just ordered it.”

While it is too late to order online and still receive a city sticker before the July 15 deadline, motorists can still buy a city sticker at multiple city locations or at a neighborhood Currency Exchange for a convenience fee of $5.50.

Kappel said vehicle owners who have already ordered their stickers by mail or online but have not received them in the mail by Wednesday should contact the City Clerk’s office.

Chicago city stickers cost $85 for most cars and $135 for larger, SUV-type vehicles.