How To Remove Car Decals | Autance

Switch up your style or remove it altogether.

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How To Remove Car Decals | Autance © How To Remove Car Decals | Autance

Time Needed: 20 minutes, Difficulty: Beginner, Cost: $20

A car decal is a classic way of jazzing up a car, old or new. However, when the time comes to remove these stickers from your car, it can be a huge pain, especially if they’ve been on there for a long period of time. The goal is to easily remove the stickers without leaving behind a bunch of adhesive globs on your paint, but that’s not always a quick and simple task. To achieve clean results without scuffing up your paint, it takes patience, technique, and the proper tools.

Whether it’s time to return to the clean factory look or time to get a new graphics package on the old steed, it’s important to remove the old stuff safely and cleanly. To rid the stress and distill the process of the job, Car Autance has put a guide together to explain everything you need to know in one resource. This could also be used to help remove bumper stickers or other stick-ons that are similar to decals.

Let’s dive into how to de-jazz your ride or re-jazz it up. 

The Safety Brief

Before we take the plunge into de-stickering, you’re going to need some safety gear. Because our suggested methods involve chemicals or heat, grab nitrile gloves or something similar and safety glasses. These will ensure that you leave the garage with unblemished skin and fully functioning eyeballs.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to roll your car into a shaded workspace that is well ventilated and level. It’s also important to be cognizant of local laws that stipulate what you can and cannot do in your street or driveway if you’re working there.

The Tools & Parts You Need

For this project, you won’t need a lot, but the tools you do need are crucial. We have a handy checklist, so you can grab the goods and have them ready to go at your house.

How To Remove Car Decals
If a decal has been left on a car too long, expect to see some paint fade. Markus Spiering / EyeEm / Getty Images

The Task: How To Remove Car Decals

1. Park in a suitable work area and let it cool down.

Find a level and shady area to work in so you’re comfortable. Get your tools ready.

2. Clean your car, especially around the area of the car decal.

To avoid any damage to the paint of your car, make sure to rinse and wash any dirt surrounding the decals off before any work is done. Those fine dirt particles can scratch paint easily, especially because you’ll be working with a microfiber cloth. If you’re unsure of what you need for this, check out our detailed guide on how to wash a car by hand.

3. Get your plastic scraper or fingernails ready. 

With a plastic scraper (never use razor blades on paint), find a corner to the car decal that can be easily lifted up. Be gentle with the paint and any motions that put pressure on any painted surface. Focus on getting underneath the decal and lifting slightly, but don’t fully remove it yet. Just lift a corner.

4. Warm your heat gun or hair dryer.

Plug your heat-generating device in and turn it on. Let it warm up to a decent temperature and start blowing the hot air onto the decal, focusing on the area you lifted up. Use sweeping motions back and forth so the car decal heats evenly and allows the adhesive to soften to ease removal. Don’t stay in one place for too long, as the heat could technically cause damage if it is too hot. Once the sticker is warm to the touch, proceed to the next step.

5. Peel the car decal off.

Don’t put the heat gun away yet. Grab the lifted edge with your finger and start peeling the sticker away gently and slowly, at a 90-degree angle. If residue is left behind, pause and use the heat gun to warm the area more, but not too hot that it becomes impossible to handle. Once enough of the decal is off, you can use one hand to blow the heat onto the rest of the decal while you peel it off to aid removal. Continue lifting until the decal is off. 

6. Clean any adhesive residue

More than likely there will be some small spots of adhesive left on the paint of the car. Now you can get your adhesive remover like Goo Gone and spray it directly onto the residue. Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe it vigorously and don’t be shy to put more remover on the paint until it comes off smoothly. 

7. Wash, polish, and wax your car to finish the job.

Now that the decal or decals are off, you can now wash the car and fully detail it in peace. Enjoy the newly fresh paint of your car while you contemplate if you want to add more stickers to it.

The Acura Integra Prototype features a decal along the side that says, "Integra."
Some decals might be specific to one body panel, while others could stretch across the car. Acura

FAQs About Removing Car Decals

So, you may have some questions about some common do’s and don’ts. Here are the best and weirdest questions we could answer:

Q. Should I use WD-40 to remove stickers from my paint?

A. Generally speaking, we strongly recommend against that. It isn’t designed for official use on paint.

Q. Can I remove my decals without a heat gun?

A. You can, but it will likely leave more residue, which means more cleaning, which means more potential for scratches on your sweet paint.

Q. Will a car decal ruin paint?

A. A car decal will not inherently ruin paint. However, it’s possible that a decal left on too long could result in a difference in paint color and shade due to fading around the decal. Additionally, application and removal of the decal could result in damage if not done with proper precaution. 

Q. Can you reuse car decals?

A. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to peel a car decal off unscathed, but in the case you do, we do not recommend reusing it. It could have collected dirt and particles that could damage your vehicle’s paint upon reuse.

The Video Tutorial About Removing Car Decals

For those of us who aren’t text-based learners, there are decent videos out there that can show you exactly how to remove car decals. Check it out below.

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