Introduction: Stealth Bumper Sticker Prank

Putting a bumper sticker on someone else's car that says something stupid is an OK prank. But to stick one on that they might not even notice and shows up when lit with headlights from another car, that's waaaayyyy better.

Note: your target needs to have a black or very dark vehicle for this to work.

Step 1: The Secret Sauce

The main ingredient here is retroreflective black 3M adhesive vinyl. In other words, a big black sticker that shines back at you when you shine a light at it. It's awesome stuff, great for putting on your bike when you want to be a safer rider at night without looking like Safety Boy during the day.

Small pieces can be easily found on eBay. I got a 6" x 18" piece for about $10, including shipping. That's enough for 4-6 bumper stickers depending on how tall you want them.

eBay search for reflective tape

Step 2: Make a Message and Cut It Up

First, make a message you think would be funny to see on your friend's car. This can take a while.

OK, you have your bit of funny. What you want to do is block out where you want your message to appear so that you can spray paint the rest of the sticker.

For me, I had it easy because we have an Epilog laser cutter. I made two overlapping pieces so that I quickly spraypaint it in two passes.

For most everyone else, print out your message on paper and cut it most of the way out. Leave little bits so that it's still attached.

Step 3: Get Sticky With It

The best way to use a paper stencil is with spray adhesive. It's awesome stuff. Well worth a can in your arsenal, that's for sure.

Spray the backs of the stencils with a light coat.

Step 4: Use the Stencils

OK, for me with the laser-cut stuff this was just a matter of putting one layer down, spraying paint, waiting for it to dry, and repeating with the other layer.

For the mostly cut out stencil I mentioned before, lay the whole thing down on the vinyl. Now cut the connections with an X-acto knife and pull away the negative. Apply spraypaint.

Step 5: Find Your Target!

OK, the one drawback to this is that your target should have a black or at least very dark vehicle. But if he does, you're in. Place the sticker on it and see how long it lasts!


johng73 made it! (author)2016-04-04

Another option is to put a real bumper sticker on magnetic tape so it can be easily removed and no damage to finish. Use a sticker for political party they are against, that really fires people up.

johng73 made it! (author)2016-04-04

Another option is to put a real bumper sticker on magnetic tape so it can be easily removed and no damage to finish. Use a sticker for political party they are against, that really fires people up.

Mauigerbil made it! (author)2012-08-26

I am going to put "I am a brony!" on my stepdad's car! He hates them, but mysteriously all of his children are them. That goes for me and my 2 older brothers, along with my little brother and sister, although they technically aren't old enough.

White_Wolf made it! (author)2010-04-01

This is all and all fun but........

In most city's and some States they have anti-tagging laws.

Make sure the "victim"  is someone you know that wont have you arrested for vandalism if you get caught! LOL


PeoplesCar made it! (author)PeoplesCar2011-11-21

Agreed. This is a "prank" that can damage a car's paint / body work. For myself, personally, I would not be "cool" with this, no matter how close the friend that did it.

downgrade made it! (author)downgrade2010-04-02

 "if you get caught"
The point is to not get caught, what would be the point of putting something on someone's car while they watched you?
Besides, nothing is illegal if you don't get caught.

Derin made it! (author)Derin2010-07-03

Like the fireworks and music played at SWAT bell levels EVERY NIGHT here in Turkey?

Punkguyta made it! (author)Punkguyta2010-04-02

 You and me both have something very in common :P

Mehehehful made it! (author)Mehehehful2010-05-16

 But if they found it then you would get caught and they could find it, like if they were getting something out of the trunk, washing the car, maybe even getting gas...

Punkguyta made it! (author)Punkguyta2010-05-16

 I wrote on the back of my teacher's SUV on his dusty window "Winston Churchill !!!" and then had a giant koolaid man right beside it. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, it looked hilarious. I had done this early in the day when I got to school, and then later on while I was waiting to catch the bus outside, he came out to leave and take off, and he saw it (oh snap) but it confused the hell out of him, he didn't know it was me. He was like "I don't get it, thats pretty messed up.

yoyology made it! (author)2010-06-23

So I guess we know what side you're on in The Great Debate.

popcorn4lunch made it! (author)popcorn4lunch2011-08-26

that was the weirdest debate i have ever seen...

sumguysr made it! (author)2010-04-04

Krylon has transparent retroreflective spray paint, I wonder if that could be used on transparent film to make this for any color car. If anyone is tries please pm me.

CodySteed made it! (author)CodySteed2010-07-08

I've tried that stuff, it doesnt seem to do much. not very reflective that i can see. maybe i can experiment more...

animal0307 made it! (author)2010-03-31

Tried it with same color of spray paint as the car??

Bodies made it! (author)Bodies2010-06-17

The letters would still show up black in daylight

Kiteman made it! (author)2010-03-31

Team Edward?  Seriously?

fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2010-03-31

Yes. It was canida's suggestion.

canida made it! (author)canida2010-03-31

It was the absolute worst thing I could think of. ;)

However, check out this awesome Team Edward t-shirt.

Duct Tape Dude made it! (author)Duct Tape Dude2010-06-09

That's not as evil as my idea....Honk if you want to see my manboobs

Madrigorne made it! (author)Madrigorne2010-04-02


hydr0ph0en1x made it! (author)2010-04-01

Ahahaa, nice message. I'm sure your friend will hate that.

Goodhart made it! (author)Goodhart2010-04-17
Hmmm,  depending on how old the person is, the message: I love Basket weaving
might have more impact LOL
hydr0ph0en1x made it! (author)hydr0ph0en1x2010-04-18

Heh, on that subject, maybe knitting. Especially if it is a guy. Actually... I think my brother took up knitting for a while. o.o

Goodhart made it! (author)Goodhart2010-04-18
How about:   I ♥ picking my nose.

hydr0ph0en1x made it! (author)hydr0ph0en1x2010-04-19

Ooh, I saw this one written in dust on a truck that said "this driver drives naked" Pretty funny.

Goodhart made it! (author)Goodhart2010-04-19

Oh,  that would NOT be one to look AT....especially depending on the size of the truck.....*shudder*  

hydr0ph0en1x made it! (author)hydr0ph0en1x2010-04-23

Eh, curiosity. You would definitely get a lot of people staring at you funny, trying to see if it is true.

Goodhart made it! (author)Goodhart2010-04-23

Oh, I just meant,  that would not be a truck to "look into".... :-D

seriousdisturbed made it! (author)2010-04-02

For those concerned with the legal ramifications, use flat magnets on the back of the bumper 'sticker' to apply to any part of the card made of metal(most often NOT the plastic bumper, sadly).

Those magnetic business cards work need to purchase special magnets.  Just adhere the enitre magnet to the back of the sticker.

No worries about permanent damage to anybody's property.  However, public humiliation may still be an issue. :P

joejoerowley made it! (author)joejoerowley2010-04-15

 I bet you could attach a magnet/piece of metal to the inside of the bumper also to hold the magnetic bumper sticker on... Just a thought.

An Villain made it! (author)2010-04-10

Because nobody, wants to look like safety boy.

Seleziona made it! (author)2010-04-05

Totally awesome!

8bit made it! (author)2010-03-31

This would be funnier if it wasn't for police bumper sticker profiling.  

Zilduli made it! (author)Zilduli2010-03-31

Why not whip up a few of these to put on the back of police cruisers in your area? Something like "How's my driving?" and then the phone number of the sheriff's office and a car ID number. Sure you might get in tons of trouble for it, but you have to admit it would be awesome.

Johenix made it! (author)Johenix2010-04-02

Tailor it to the cop.
Nice cop: "I Brake For Donuts"
Fat nasty cop: "OINK OINK"
Cute female cop: "Miss Aprehension"

What ever you do DO NOT GET CAUGHT!!!

Ranie-K made it! (author)2010-03-31

I just realized how to do this with other colors!

Say, your friend has a red car, then you buy a piece of red reflective tape/sticker, a can of red paint and some sticky letters.

Spell your message using the letters on the big sticker/foil. Spray paint on the whole thing, wait for the paint to harden, then remove the sticky letters.

Voila -stealth bumper sticker!

fungus amungus made it! (author)fungus amungus2010-03-31

I thought of that, too, but getting the right shade of red is trickier than getting the right black.

Good point about getting adhesive letters, though. That's a good way to do it. I'm just a sucker for control over fonts.

Ranie-K made it! (author)Ranie-K2010-03-31

I might do "red on red" on a black background on my on vehicle. Daytime -a red rectangle -nighttime -a sign!

timothymh made it! (author)timothymh2010-04-01

 But the victim might wonder why someone put a red rectangle on their car.

Ranie-K made it! (author)Ranie-K2010-04-02

My own vehicle.

timothymh made it! (author)timothymh2010-04-02

 Ah. ...But then it isn't a trick.

whiteoakart made it! (author)2010-04-01

Another possibility to save on the spray paint and its toxic effects would be to simply cut out the letters from the reflective film.  It could be a little trickier to apply as the sticker would be flimsier, but you can solve this with a DIY backing film.  I do this when I make vinyl cut window stickers for shop windows in our town.

1. Cut a bumper sticker shaped rectangle from the 3M vinyl.
2. Trace your 'art' onto it and cut it out with an X-acto knife.  Pull the graphics out and discard or reuse. Try not to cut through the adhesive backing paper.
3. Backing paper.   Spray a sheet of freezer paper or vellum with spray glue. Let it sit until it is not wet, but tacky.  Attach it to the face of your bumper sticker.  Now, you have the adhesive backing on one side and the DIY backing paper on the other.
4. Pull of the adhesive backing paper and stick the whole assembly onto the targeted car bumper.
5. The vinyl adhesive is much stronger than your spray mount freezer paper, so now you can peel the freezer paper right off.

When the light reflects off it, the sticker will be a bright white rectangle and the letters will be black, because the cars paint is showing through.

VixenLtd made it! (author)VixenLtd2010-04-02


whiteoakart made it! (author)whiteoakart2010-04-02

You are a visual person, aren't you?  Me too.  It is almost impossible for me to fully understand directions without pictures and diagrams.

Basically, it is a technique for making the bumper sticker without using spray paint.

conrad2468 made it! (author)2010-04-01

 How devious..."team edward".....

J-Manoo7 made it! (author)2010-04-01

"Team Edward"

musicalbee2003 made it! (author)2010-03-31

 Oh, your demo sticker is horribly mean!  Way to go!  

canida made it! (author)canida2010-03-31

Which one?

musicalbee2003 made it! (author)musicalbee20032010-03-31

 Well, Mr. Amungus only demo'd the build with the "Team Edward" one, so that would be the one I'm referring to.  Besides which, there is nothing wrong with unicorns.  

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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