CA HOV Lane Sticker Placement

CA HOV Lane Sticker Placement

Last night, I was following a Nissan Leaf on the freeway during my commute home from work. Geez, that car is such a dog, but it got me thinking. Someday, I'm going to have to desecrate my Model S with those ugly California Clean Air Vehicle stickers if I want to take advantage of the HOV lane. For those of you who don't live in California, they look like this...

...and you used to need 4 of them (two are 2" x 3", and two are 4" x 6"). Does anyone know if you still need to apply all 4 of them these days? Also, does anyone know if these instructions for the placement still apply today?

Whenever I see those hideous stickers on the freeway, they seem to be placed front and center like some badge of honor. I'm trying to figure out where I can place them, such that they'll be barely visible to the CHP, and not such a blinding eyesore shining like a repulsive beacon from my new car. Does anyone know if it's valid to place them as low as possible on the frame of the car? I'm hoping to even partially wrap them under the curvature of the bumpers as much as possible to keep them visible. I'm thinking something like this (maybe even lower):

petero | September 10, 2011

Wow that is ugly.
Makes you wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze? I am now leaning towards a white "s."
Thanks Schlermie.

Brian H | September 11, 2011

Place them on the tire sidewalls.


Brian H | September 11, 2011

Or glue them to a clear piece of flexible plastic, which you can temp-glue in place when necessary, and remove immediately afterwards.

Brian H | September 11, 2011

P.S. If the "state seal" is that round shape, it actually is in the down position. Classic 'crat cack-up.

the bonnie | September 11, 2011

The seal is right-side up. Nothing upside down.

I put stuck my carpool stickers on some scraps of StarShield, carefully cut them out (so that no StarShield would show), and then placed them on my white Roadster.

An earlier poster is right, not nearly so obvious on a white car - but I think the real issue is careful positioning. I've seen more than one Roadster with stickers askew & just shake my head. With the StarShield and a little baby shampoo/water mixture, you have about 30 minutes to reposition until everything is exactly where you want it.

Schlermie | September 11, 2011

Thanks for the StarShield tip Bonnie. That's a good idea. I've seen those stickers that look like someone haphazardly slapped them on the back of the car at some strange angle. It just makes them stand out even more.

Brian's idea about the temporary gluing made me think as well. I wonder if you could make some sort of reusable solution with magnets. Of course, magnets won't be drawn to the aluminum car body, but maybe you could use a pair of rare earth magnets drawn to each other on opposing sides of the body panel. I'm not sure how practical that would be with regard to wind resistance thought...not to mention the threat of theft.

If you're okay with getting a white or silver car, this isn't nearly as big of an issue. I've had a silver car for too long already though. I want my next car to have a real color.

the bonnie | September 11, 2011

There are some Roadster owners who just put one of the stickers on a placard and prop in their back window - and haven't yet been ticketed. yet.

But that probably won't work for the Model S. The Roadster is easily identified as an EV. I've had local law enforcement, monitoring the car pool lanes, just wave as I passed without looking for stickers. The Model S won't be so quickly recognized.

I'd worry about theft with the magnet idea. You can always get replacement stickers, but they take a couple of months to arrive in the first place, so I would be unhappy with that option.

The StarShield method still is more prone to theft, since the stickers can be peeled off more easily than if it were just adhesive to paint - it was a compromise on my part. And no way I'd glue, even if it were some kind of unknown temporary glue.

If you drive the HOV lanes on a regular basis, I'd just put them on the car and be happy with the lane access. The stickers can be removed when lane access ends in 2015 without damage to the car. It's not a permanent disfigurment.

Brian H | September 11, 2011

Read point #2 in the instructions with the stickers:
"Please place the small stickers on the right side of each bumper, front and rear, with the State Seal in the up position."

As for the gluing, again -- actually read what is written. I suggested permanently attaching to a clear plastic base, which could then be temp-glued when and where needed and removed without damaging the sticker.

Please try to cut back on the self-righteous shooting from the lip.

clea | September 12, 2011

brianh: "Please try to cut back on the self-righteous shooting from the lip"

so then please explain why we have to put up with it from you ...

SteveU | September 12, 2011

bonnie1194 said "[t]he StarShield method still is more prone to theft...." Having seen someone who knew what he was doing remove carpool lane stickers from a number of Prius at "Mr. Roadshow's" Prius sticker removal party, if you know what you are doing and have a hot-air heat gun you can remove a sticker in a couple of minutes at most. Given that, I'm not sure there is much downside to the StarShield approach.

(I can't quite bring myself to put white stickers on my dark blue car. I do have the stickers, they just aren't stuck on. And in two-and-a-half years of driving my Roadster there has only been one time when I could have benefited from the carpool lane.)

the bonnie | September 12, 2011


Yes those are the directions. There is nothing upside down. I'm not sure why you took that as self-righteous shooting from the hip.

I also read (and referenced) the 'temp-glue' and would not want to put any glue, including temp-glue, on my Roadster. Read my post again and you'll see that I didn't miss what was said. Again, not sure why it was perceived as 'self-righteous shooting from the hip'.

Nothing in my post was self-righteous. I was explaining what I did and the reasons I chose the path I chose. Sorry if upset you, though I cannot see why anything I posted caused such a snarky response.

VolkerP | September 12, 2011


if you want to delight Brian, place a few grammatical errors or not-so-common typos in your posts. He seems to be particularly upset today.

the bonnie | September 12, 2011


Todd Burch | September 12, 2011

If it were me, I'd sit in traffic to avoid the stickers unless the HOV lanes provide significant benefit and you'd get use out of them frequently.

the bonnie | September 12, 2011

I made the drive between Newport Beach and Los Angeles recently - and can tell you that the HOV lane sticker allowed me to travel approx 45 miles at speed limit, while the other 5 lanes were stop and go traffic (and more stop than go). Those stickers saved me hours of drive time.

I love those stickers. :)

GJamrok | September 12, 2011

This was a big concern with Prius drivers back in 2005 and there was even a big LA Times article about it:

My biggest beef with the stickers was that they require two of them on the left hand side. To quote the LA Times article:

"All the HOV lanes are on the left-hand side of the roadways," said Veronica Bach, a comedy cabaret performer who lives in Hollywood and has owned her burgundy Prius for three weeks. "Why should there even be any stickers on the left-hand side of the car?"

My 2001 Prius, god love it, was a pretty ugly car so it didn't matter but I really cringe at putting the HOV stickers on a Model-S.

Maybe the best solution is to always have a passenger. :)

Brian H | September 14, 2011

The instructions say put the seal "in the up position".
The seal is at the bottom.
Hence, if the seal is up, the sticker would be upside down.


the bonnie | September 14, 2011

When I received those stickers and read those directions, my self-righteous little mind interpreted it to mean orientation of the seal itself. Apparently most everyone else who received a sticker interpreted it the same way, since I have yet to see one upside-down. But I can see how you read it differently.

DartLady S77 | September 14, 2011

I agree with Bonnie about the whole state seal thing - perhaps the instructions should read "in the upright position" and Brian's problem disappears. Some people just like to create issues where there is none....not to mention taking the post completly off-topic.

As for the left side placement - that is the side of the HOV lanes where the CHP are set up to check traffic (in the median), therefore they can see them.

DartLady S77 | September 14, 2011

Back on topic: The placements shown by Schlermie would not pass muster with CHP. They are too far under the vehicle body and would not be visible enough.

the bonnie | September 14, 2011

"As for the left side placement - that is the side of the HOV lanes where the CHP are set up to check traffic (in the median), therefore they can see them."

Yes. More than once while driving in the car pool lane, CHP has been sitting there on the inside shoulder - and it was this front left sticker that was observed (with a little wave to me -smile-).

I only received three stickers, and it appears that's all most get - at least other Roadster owners. (The instructions are for four.) Two of the larger, one of the smaller. The smaller is on the front driver side bumper, the two larger ones are low on the Roadster at each corner, somewhat visible from both the side and the back. The link I provided earlier shows one of the stickers. It's visible, but low. I feel I've met the intent - a sticker (or enough of one) is visible from all sides.

So far, CHP has not had an issue with placement.

TheAustin | September 14, 2011

I guess in New York, we'll all have to get Glacier Blue Roadsters, and hope the Model S is offered in the same color:

SD in the OC | October 28, 2011

I thought the CA HOV sticker program has expired? Comments?

Brant | October 28, 2011

For hybrids, yes
In place for EV's until 2014 I believe

Denis Vincent | October 28, 2011

One of many privileges Purebrid EV's will enjoy! I fully anticipate that charging stations will be offered as a free service ( lost 'green' leaders) at Restaurant chains, Shopping malls, Hotels and other Roadside venues.

mscottring | October 28, 2011

Brian - I'm pretty sure they mean the seal is to be placed in the upright position.

mscottring | October 28, 2011

Frankly, I'm confused at the confusion on this whole seal thing. Doesn't the illustration make it pretty clear what they mean?

mscottring | October 28, 2011

SD - EVs and CNG vehicles are qualified for stickers, until 2015. There is discussion about extending it at that point, but who knows.

btsmann | July 15, 2012

I have to agree with Brian, the wording in the sticker instructions is clumsy, the State Seal in the up position sounds like they want the state seal on top, which is ridiculous because then all the writing on the sticker would be upside down. There is no reason that they had to mention the state seal at all, any normal person would apply the sticker with the text rightside up!

And I definitely agree with everyone who says the stickers are an abomination to the beauty of this car, I will be putting them only at the lower corners of my front and rear window, maybe also at the bottom of the passenger windows if i get a warning.

jerry3 | July 15, 2012

- any normal person would apply the sticker with the text rightside up

We're talking government here. "Normal" doesn't apply.

Slindell | July 15, 2012

I'll probably put the front sticker at the far-left part of the black plastic "bumber". I'm going to have a license plate on the front anyway, what's one white sticker?

cerjor | July 15, 2012

How would it look on a white car in the white area?

BYT | July 15, 2012

I'm getting the Pearl White Model S and still don't want to put that eyesore on it. Heck, I wonder if it's really necessary at all. If I get pulled over, there is no such thing as a car from Tesla that isn't HOV compliant anyway? I'll let you all know how that first conversation with a Public Enforcer results to in any case, if it ever happens.

Michael37 | July 15, 2012

Do the white stickers now come as a set of four? When I got mine (2002, for my RAV4-EV), there were three: one for the back bumper, and one for each of the side-rear locations. When the yellow sticker program was started for the hybrids, those stickers came as a set of four, adding the one up front, but my RAV has never had more than three.

Michael37 | July 15, 2012

PS: I completely agree about installation. I can't believe how many cars I've seen with the sticker just kind of slapped on. I can't believe people don't take a bit more care with this stuff.

I was just looking at my photos from the various drive events. I don't think there would be much trouble installing the three stickers in the back so that they wouldn't be overly unsightly, but if one is required in front now it's a real problem. There's virtually nowhere other than right below the headlights or (as was suggested) right next to the license plate.

Michael37 | July 16, 2012

My friend recently bought a LEAF. When he got his stickers, it was a set of three, just like my stickers for the RAV4. I suspect that the instructions for four stickers are related to the hybrids. I sure hope so.

pilotSteve | July 16, 2012

@BYT - does that mean when a Model-S licensed in another state drives to California, we get to us the HIV lanes, sans sticker?

pilotSteve | July 16, 2012


Michael37 | July 16, 2012

@pilotSteve: I don't think so. I believe that the law specifically allows vehicles "displaying" an appropriate decal to use the lane. For example, there were many Prius hybrids on the road in California that qualified for the old hybrid stickers, but could not use the lanes because the sticker program was limited to a fixed number, and those cars didn't have the stickers.

You might conceivably be able to plead your case to the CHP officer, but I wouldn't count on it.

BYT | July 16, 2012

Yeah, and the carpool tickets start north of $300 so it would be an expensive plea if you can't convince them. In this economy they want your money!!

pilotSteve | July 17, 2012

@Michael37 - ah well, I knew it was too good to be true! That means I'll have have to have my wife travel with me..... if she will let my drive my -S 50% of the trip :)

Brian H | July 18, 2012

Just have a foam rubber replica made. Promise to use it only in the car!

TikiMan | January 7, 2013

Just got my California Clean Air Access decals today. I placed them on the lowest part of the bottom (non-painted plastic like shown in this original post). So far they don't look to bad there. Mind you, I have a black MS.

Either way, I didn't have to stick them on my paint, and they are still visible enough for law-enforcement to clearly see them.

Michael37 | January 7, 2013

Photos would be great, TikiMan!

JohnnyMac | July 19, 2013

In case anyone in CA is waiting on their HOV stickers and wondering about timing, mine just arrived about 3-4 weeks after mailing off the check and form.  Not too bad.  Quick question though....on a black car, I would prefer to place the stickers on the lower unpainted ruberized part of the bodywork like TikiMan did. Does anyone know if these wil adhere to that material or if they will peel off over time?  Anyone with long term experience one way or the other?  Thanks!

JPPTM | July 20, 2013

I applied my white HOV stickers to the black skirt under the bumper and fenders. I prepped with alochol based window cleaner and then isopropyl alcohol to be sure the surfaces were very clean and dry. The small right rear sticker is tucked down low. The larger side ones have the upper curved edge tucked into the seam between the black skirt & quarter panel with the top long flat edge alighed with the seam. They look about as good as I would expect. While I really would rather not have to have them mounted (and would love a solution like a special color licence plate like other states), I will wear them as a badge of honor (and enjoy the time savings). For those of you willing to roll the dice and challenge the CHP, go ahead - it's your nickel (or a whole pile of them...).


Tesla_Girl | November 26, 2014

I just got my 3 stickers, so I'm planning to do what TikiMan did.

With our SoCal traffic, yes, it's worth it. I'll probably save 30 minutes tonight.

SoCal Buzz | November 26, 2014

Placing on the black plastic trim at the bottom looks fine. And I've noticed some people are just using 1 or 2 stickers, instead of all 3. CHP knows Teslas, so the important thing is to show the car was properly registered.

simkover | March 4, 2015

If they only sent three, where would the small one go, front or back?

ir | March 4, 2015

Back side left, back side right, back bumper right