Magnets On Cars

By Sharon Naylor

March 17, 2014 4 min read

If you have magnets on your car, SUV or truck, you might be in danger of ruining the paint and potentially causing rust damage. You can still display your favorite cause with, say, a pink ribbon for breast cancer, or show off your pride in your child's soccer team with magnet signs. It just takes a bit of care to make sure those magnets aren't leaving their mark in a way you didn't intend, cutting down the resale value of your vehicle.

Here are some top tips for smart magnet application and care:

--According to the experts at, you should prep the area on your vehicle where you'll apply your magnet. They advise cleaning the surface where it will be placed, and then drying the area thoroughly using a soft cloth. "This gives it a better grip and will stay on even after contact with high speed air while you travel. Due to intense cold, car magnets can become stiff with low grip capacity, so take adequate precautions."

--Stick your magnet on the flattest surface of your vehicle, first placing one corner of the magnet down and then smoothing the magnet flat. "Magnet signs that are put on smooth surfaces ensure that no air pockets" are caught beneath the magnet, allowing water to get in and cause corrosion, says The magnetic layer will pull the magnet flat, helping to prevent the edges from peeling or getting damaged.

--Never place a magnet over an existing rusty spot, as that will only cause greater damage.

--When you take your car through a carwash, remove your magnets so your entire vehicle can be washed and thoroughly dried before you re-apply your magnets. Not removing them first can cause them to gather dirt and grime around the edges that get baked into your vehicle's surface over time.

--Wash your magnets using soapy water to remove grime and bird droppings, and dry them thoroughly before re-applying. The experts at advise removing your car magnets periodically "to check that they are still securely fastened and to clean if necessary." The experts at Vistaprint suggest removing your magnets carefully for cleaning at least once a week; more often if your climate or treks through muddy conditions dirty your magnet areas.

--When removing your magnets for cleaning, never remove your magnets with a sharp item. Not even your fingernails, since any sharp item can potentially nick or cut the surface of your car, causing rust danger.

--Stick to vertical surfaces, like the back of your car, instead of surfaces that get direct sunlight, such as your car hood. According to, this prevents your magnets from fading and reduces the chance that a buildup of heat would show the shape of old magnets on your car finish once they have been removed.

--"Never use a magnet if it contains any bubbles, wrinkles, bent corners and/or edges or is otherwise damaged," says Vistaprint.

--Other places not to affix a magnet, according to Vistaprint: "over protrusions, fixtures or concave areas, such as: molding, lights, reflectors, decals, pin stripes, air intakes, wells and spoilers."

--Don't layer one magnet over another on your car. An air pocket will form, causing damage to your car.

--Give your magnets a break. "Long-term outdoor usage of magnets on painted surfaces may result in fading, due to shielding the underlying color from ultraviolet rays," says Vistaprint. Remove the magnets you have, perhaps in the summertime, for a few weeks, and re-apply them -- or decorate your vehicle with new ones -- when more moderate weather returns.

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