Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decals are administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in California. They allow vehicles that meet specified emissions standards to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lanes. If this is your first EV, you must know they are famous for not being easy to remove without damaging the paint, so we have some suggestions for you to apply them before it’s too late. If you ended up here because you’re trying to remove the HOV decals for the first time, we also have some ideas for you to remove them safely.
How to safely remove HOV/CAV decals
Let me start saying I haven’t had to do this myself because before sticking my HOV decals for the first time I did a quick research and started using the method I’m sharing below. However, I want to share what I’ve seen others do and think is one of the best approaches. Ok, here’s what to do (the process takes about an hour to remove 3 stickers, so make sure you’re not in a hurry):
- Clean the car to avoid picking up dirt while rubbing
- Apply heat to the sticker using a hairdryer or a heat gun in the low setting. You want it to be warm but not hot, be careful not to burn the paint.
- Peel a corner up and peel the sticker back, try to avoid it tearing by pulling it over on itself as you peel it away
- When the sticker is out, you’ll see some ‘void’ glue patches on the surface of the car. Apply heat to a small area, saturate a corner of a clean cloth with Goo Gone, and rub the area you previously heated
- When the cloth is saturated with adhesive, turn and add more Goo Gone. Repeat until all the glue residues are removed
Safely applying HOV stickers for the first time
The easiest way is to stick them on a removable vinyl protector decal instead of directly in your car. You could argue this also makes it easier to steal them, but I’m personally willing to take the risk if I can avoid damaging my Tesla’s paint.
This is a very affordable removable vinyl protector decal that I have already purchased twice. It does the trick, the only thing is you have to cut it yourself (you could get some already precut for ten times the price). The HOV stickers will come off without leaving any residues.
When it was time for us to change our HOV decals, we recorded this video showing how easy it is to remove them and stick new ones.
For more information about California HOV/CAV decals, including colors and expiration, check out the DMV page.
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