How to Remove a Decal From an Automobile


Vinyl and paper decals have been used to adorn bumpers and body parts of vehicles ever since the first yellow smiley face became America's way to support the happiness in us all. Today's automotive decals include bumper stickers, window stickers, business signs and body wraps. Remove a decal from an automobile because you don't like what it says, or to repair and paint. How you get it off is determined by what you want left behind after it's gone.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot air gun Plastic scraper Cleansing solution (1 part rubbing alcohol, 2 parts dish detergent)
  • Park the vehicle in a well-lit area that has access to an electrical outlet for using the hot air gun on the decals. Clean the area that has the old decal attached. Paper decals can be washed away with a strong solution of rubbing alcohol and dish detergent. Using a cloth rag, rub the decal until the solution washes away the paper and down through the adhesive. The solution will saturate the papers and adhesives, and loosen them from the car body.

  • Plug in the hot air gun and allow the gun to warm. It is recommended that a plastic or vinyl decal be clean prior to removal. Use a finger to pull back any existing parts of the decal that have pulled away from the vehicle. Pull away any parts of the decal that are loose from the car after cleaning with a strong cleansing solution.

  • Heat the decal and its surrounding car body parts with the hot air gun. The heat is not for melting away the decal but to heat the adhesive enough to allow for it to be pulled away from the car.
    Wait 5 minutes after heating the area around the decal. Pull away any decal parts that have become loose after the first heating. Clean the area with the strong solution of rubbing alcohol and detergent.

  • Reheat the decal until the whole decal is close to melting or burning without heating it so much that it bubbles the car paint or damages car parts. This heating will continue to break down adhesive and decal until only the most stubborn parts are gone.

  • Clean the body parts after the old decals have been removed. Leaving any old adhesive will leave areas of stickiness for dirt to accumulate and become an eyesore to the owner.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wax body parts that have been cleaned with the strong cleansing solution. The solution will not only help to remove a decal from an automobile, but it allows all the protective wax that has been put on the paint to be washed away as well.
  • The strong cleansing solution is made up of alcohol, which is flammable. Do not leave body parts wet with solution before heating with the hot air gun. Hot air guns can ignite fluid that has puddled.

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  • Photo Credit awewriter
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