How to remove car decals without damaging paint

Removing vinyl decals can be a challenge if you are not familiar with car paintwork. They’re so easy to put on, and they can stick to your car’s paint like nothing else.

The problem is that they can damage your car if you force them off or use the wrong products to remove them.

remove car decals

So, how do you get those pesky stickers off without causing any damage? Here are some simple steps that you can follow to prevent the decals from damaging your car’s paint.

How to remove car decals without damaging paint?

I will explain each method that I have applied and used to remove the decals from my own car and from the client’s car surface without damaging the paint itself.

And these methods can be followed by beginners who don’t know the procedure and are confused to apply any method.

Clean the decals

You can clean decals before removing them in two ways. One is you can rub the decals with some soap or use Windex or glass cleaner.

These methods which I am going to explain are also used in removing spray paint from stainless steel surfaces.

Then using a paper towel or soft cloth wipe the soap solution onto the decal. If the white remains, then the decal adhesive is still there.

So, you should try the second method, which is using isopropyl alcohol to remove the decal glue. This method is good because it will also remove tape residue from the glass if any.

If you are removing decals from plastic surfaces, you may not be able to use alcohol, because it will strip the plastic’s surface protection.

Heat the decals

The first step is to heat up the decal with a blow dryer. To do this, turn your blow dryer on full blast and heat both sides of the sticker equally for about a minute and a half.

Please make sure you hold it steady to prevent dripping as it will melt easily (if it does get any drips to try to melt them quickly with the hairdryer).

If all else fails, you can always use boiling water to soften the glue and tear the decal off the glass.

This option is a little messier than using oil, but it’s more effective on aged or extremely sticky stickers.

method to remove car decals

If you don’t have a hair dryer on hand, you can get this job done with patience and a microfiber cloth (and maybe some Goo Gone too).

The microfiber works as an easy adhesive remover and also buffs out nicks on your paint afterward.

You might need to go over the gunk several times if you need to remove a really stubborn sticker.

Start peeling off the decals

You can peel the sticker off with a card, but you will have to work slowly. Rub the card against the sticker slowly and firmly but with a little bit of force.

It may take a few times before the sticker peels off, but it will eventually do it for sure.

If you cannot peel off the sticker, try soaking the area of the sticker that is stuck to the car in warm water for a few moments, and then try again.

If the sticker is still sticking, you may need to apply more force.

Remove leftover residue

To remove adhesive residue, you need to use some ordinary household items. Firstly, a mixture of dishwashing soap and water will do.

Apply some of it to the residue and rub it with a dry cloth. Also, a combination of baking soda and lemon juice will help you to remove adhesive residue. Use a dry paper towel to dry it after rubbing.

Also, you can use vinegar which is almost in every kitchen if it’s distilled then it’s also a good choice to use.

Apply it on a cloth and rub against the adhesive residue to completely remove it and make the surface clean as it was before applying the decals.

Wash the car

Before waxing, clean the area with soapy water to remove any leftover adhesive remover and make sure it’s ready for waxing. Waxing only works when the area is completely dry.

The method for washing the car surface after removing car decals:

  1. Use warm water and wash the car with a sponge and regular car wash soap. DO NOT APPLY PRESSURE WITH THE SPONGE. The idea is to just remove the residue, not scrub.
  2. Rinse the soap off thoroughly, and then rinse the car with warm water.
  3. Next, you will want to dry the car with a chamois cloth.

Wax the surface

Apply a coat of wax over the paintwork by following the instructions for use on the product label.

Use a clean, soft cloth to polish the surface after waxing it to retain the shine from your wax application.

Waxing the surface after removing car decals is very important. This is to remove the micro-scratch left by the decal after removing it.

If the surface is not waxed, then the car paint will absorb rainwater much more easily, which is not good for modeling.

What is the easiest way to remove car decals?

The easiest way to remove car decals is to use a heat gun or hair dryer to soften the adhesive, and then carefully scrape the decal off with a plastic scraper or credit card.

You can also use a specialized adhesive remover to help loosen the decal and make it easier to remove.

It is important to be gentle and take your time to avoid damaging the paint on your car.

How do you remove stickers without peeling paint?

To remove stickers without peeling paint, there are a few methods you can try:

  • Use a plastic razor blade or a credit card to gently scrape the sticker off at a 45-degree angle. This method is best for stickers that have been on the car for a short period of time.
  • Soak the sticker with a solution of warm water and dish soap. Let it sit for a few minutes to loosen the adhesive, then gently scrape it off with a plastic razor blade or credit card.
  • Apply heat to the sticker with a hair dryer or heat gun, being careful not to overheat the paint. Once the adhesive is soft, gently scrape the sticker off with a plastic razor blade or credit card.
  • Use a specialized adhesive remover, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the paint.

It’s important to work gently and carefully to avoid damaging the paint on your car. Take your time and work on small sections at a time.

Do decals damage car paint?

Decals can potentially damage car paint if they are not removed properly.

When decals are removed, the adhesive that holds them in place can also remove paint or a clear coat from the car’s surface.

This is particularly true for older decals that have been on the car for an extended period of time or decals that were applied to the car without the proper preparation of the surface.

Additionally, if decals are applied to a car that has just been painted or has recently been waxed, it can cause damage to the paint.

It is important to take care when removing decals, using a heat gun or hair dryer to soften the adhesive before scraping, and using specialized adhesive remover if necessary.

It is also important to be gentle and take your time to avoid damaging the paint.

If you are unsure of your ability to remove decals without damaging the paint, it is best to seek the help of a professional.

FAQ’s of How to remove car decals without damaging paint

It depends on the decals, but yes WD-40 will remove decals. The best way to remove decals is to heat them first. As the oil in the decals melts, the water will evaporate quickly, leaving the decals soft and pliable. Just spray WD-40 on the decals and it should remove it. You can also try Goo-Gone.

Actually, No. WD-40 is really good at removing adhesives and it is safe to use on car paint. But it will not remove the adhesive residue completely. You need soap and water to get the job done. No need to worry, WD-40 will not damage your car paint.

Goo Gone is actually a pretty popular product for removing sticker and tape residue.  It is gentle, so it can be used on the glass and paint on a vehicle.  If you use Goo Gone on a glass window, be careful not to allow it to sit there too long because it can damage the paint on the surface. Goo Gone can be used on the exterior of a vehicle, but it is also recommended to check with the car manufacturer before using it on the glass panels. You should also check the label to see if Goo Gone is approved for the glass and paint.  It is important to use Goo Gone in a well-ventilated area and to avoid getting it on your skin.  If you do end up with Goo Gone on your skin, you should wash it off with soap and water rather than rubbing the Goo Gone in.

Rubbing alcohol will not damage your car paint if used with care. It can remove water-soluble paints and decals. Rubbing alcohol is a solvent that will dissolve water-soluble paints and decals. It will not harm the protective enamel on the car’s surface if used with care. The solvent also has less smell than paint thinner or other solvents due to its low aromatic hydrocarbon content. The smell of a solvent is a good indicator of its toxicity.

Stickers are applied directly to the surface, while decals are applied to a clear sheet of material that is then applied to the surface. A clear sheet of material is typically used to place a decal on a curved surface. Stickers made of paper or vinyl can be removed leaving no residue. Decals have adhesive on both sides.

Summary of How to remove car decals without damaging paint

I hope you found this post helpful, and that it will help you to successfully remove the car decals without damaging the paint on the car surface.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please feel free to share them below. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time take care of your car and yourself. Adios my painter friends will meet next time with some new informative posts for you

Matthew Edward

Matthew Edward is a professional painter who loves to paint and wants to share useful tips and tricks which he had learned in many years of experience in painting. He also used many products that can be used for painting he has tried and tested each and every product to give an unbias opinion about it in his review. This blog is very useful for those newbies who want to learn painting without making mistakes.

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