CHICAGO — As the city transitions to a year-round vehicle sticker renewal program, Monday is the last day to snag a new city sticker online.
Starting this year, your expiration date will be pegged to your license plate, with the city sticker expiring six months after your plates so you don't have to pay both at the same time.
If you order online Monday and are worried about when you'll get your sticker in the mail, don't fret. The city's "grace period" begins July 1 and lasts through July 15. At that point, vehicles with expired stickers will be slapped with tickets for $200 or more — along with a $60 late fee.
As the City Clerk's office works to get all Chicagoans on the same page, there will be some unusual pricing options this time around. In this initial year only, when sticker expiration dates are first determined, vehicle owners will be given an option for either a less expensive, shorter, prorated city sticker which expires in one to 12 months, or a more expensive, extended sticker that lasts 13-24 months before renewal is necessary.
Once you do get your sticker in the mail (or at your local currency exchange), you'll have to scrape the old one off your windshield. Last year, Chicago City Clerk spokeswoman Kristine Kappel gave us some tips on getting the sticker off without leaving a sticky mess behind:
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.
Before you start hacking away at the sticker with a razor blade, spray it with Windex. That will ease the process as you slowly scrape, pull, spray and repeat.
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.