The Key To Removing Vinyl Stickers From Your Car With No Paint Damage


Whether it was an old parking pass that is now expired or a band that you thought was cool 5 years ago and now regret the decision to brand your car with their logo, vinyl decals aren’t forever. Even if you really love the sticker you put on your vehicle, eventually it will crack and peel as it is exposed to the elements. Regardless of your why, this sticker can easily be removed. This holds true whether the offending sticker is secured to the bumper, a window or even directly to the paint of your car. 

By taking the proper steps to remove the sticker, you will be able to keep your car’s paint in tact. There are a lot of methods on the internet and a ton of products that will remove the sticker, but whether they protect your paint is questionable. The methods listed below will ensure that your car suffers no damage from the sticker removal.

If you take the right steps, you can carefully remove the sticker from your car without causing damage to your car’s paint. While there are a variety of products that can remove the adhesive and make the decal vanish, not all of them will leave your car’s paint unscathed. So, follow these steps closely to make sure your paint job stays protected.

Steps To Removing Vinyl Stickers With No Paint Damage

  1. Scrub The Sticker And Surrounding Area Clean Using Soapy Water
  2. Heat The Sticker To Loosen Adhesive
  3. Peeling The Sticker
  4. Glue Residue Removal
  5. Wash And Dry
  6. Wax The Area

Step 1: Scrub The Sticker Clean Using Soapy Water

If you don’t clean the dirt and other substances that have become imbedded on or around the sticker, then you run the risk of scratching the paint of your car when you go to scrape off the sticker. You’ll want to use a bucket of HOT soapy water and a sponge or a wash cloth to thoroughly clean the surface of the sticker and the surrounding areas. If you’re going to wash your car anyways or run it through a car wash, just plan your sticker removal for after the wash is completed, but be sure this area is properly cleaned.

Step 2: Heat The Sticker To Loosen Adhesive

When you heat the sticker mildly, it won’t damage your car, but it will help to allow the adhesive coating on the back of the sticker to loosen up a bit. You’ll want to use a hair dryer to accomplish this. Don’t use other tools that get hotter such as heat guns as they can melt your paint or permanently melt the sticker into your car. You can however, set the hair dryer to its hottest heat setting. You can do this in a garage or a driveway while utilizing a long extension cord.

Be sure to move the hair dryer around to distribute the heat well. Don’t stay in one spot for too long to prevent damaging the paint or melting the sticker. Give thorough attention to the outside edges of the sticker as well as the middle. Heat the sticker for 2-3 minutes before you stop

The next step is to heat up the car sticker or decal to weaken and loosen the adhesive. The best tool for the job is a hair blow dryer, as a heat gun is too powerful and could damage your paint job. Find a heavy-duty extension cord if you need to, and set the hair blow dryer to its highest heat setting. Distribute the heat evenly throughout the sticker and be sure to heat the edges of it. Give it a good two minutes of heating before you stop.

If you don’t have a hair dryer you can use boiling water though this can pose a safety risk for burning and isn’t as effective as using the hair dryer because you have less control. Dump boiling water on the sticker 1-3x depending on how sticky your decal is.

While the sticker is still hot, quickly move on to step 3.

Step 3: Peeling The Sticker

This step must be done immediately after the heating step. Be prepared to jump right into peeling the sticker by having some form of plastic edge ready to scrape the edges of the sticker. A good example of this would be a plastic card like an old piece of a board game, an old credit card or even a keychain gym membership card. It’s important that you only use plastic here, as metal items will damage your paint. The plastic is plenty strong enough to get the sticker off but not so tough that it will scrape the paint.

Use the plastic card to get a good edge on the sticker, which you can begin to do while still heating with the hair dryer if you desire. Once you have the edge, slowly begin to peel the sticker with an emphasis on slowly!! When you remove the sticker quickly, you tend to get more glue residue left behind on the car. You should be able to peel of the entirety of the sticker once you have a good edge. If the sticker does break off into pieces, repeat the heating and peeling steps until the entire sticker has been removed.

Step 4: Glue Residue Removal

No matter how good of a peeling job you do, you’re likely to still have some glue residue left behind. Most people prefer to remove the glue residue and you should if you want to do a good job. Leaving the residue won’t damage your paint, but it will leave an unsightly look.

You can use a product that you buy online, or you can use a simple ingredient that you likely have around the house. Distilled white vinegar. Both will work though the adhesive remover may be a more simple fix. We recommend Goo Gone as a safe adhesive remover for your vehicle that packs a punch. You can order it online using the link below (by clicking the photo). Apply the adhesive remover to a wash cloth and rub the residue away.

Step 5: Wash And Dry

You’re going to need to coat this area in wax as it hasn’t had a protective barrier applied to it since before you put the sticker on. With the same bucket of warm soapy water you used previously, soak a sponge and scrub the area dry. This will prep the area for a wax but it will also take off any other left over residue as well as clean away the Goo Gone that you used. Dry the area thoroughly with a microfiber towel.

Step 6: Wax The Area

The last time that area saw any sort of protective coating was the last time you waxed, BEFORE you put the sticker on. In some cases this could have been 8 years ago. Now that the paint is exposed, you’ll want to add a layer of wax to protect it. You can follow the instructions the manufacturer of the wax has provided.

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We hope this article has answered all of your questions regarding vinyl sticker removal, and that you feel more prepared to take control of the scent of your vehicle both now and in the future. Consider protecting your vehicle with an extended warranty plan from Protect My Car. In addition to warranties, Protect My Car also offers insurance and maintenance plans and can negotiate the best prices on repairs with mechanics.

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Protect My Car is an extended auto warranty company. Our goal here at Protect My Car is to eliminate your worry of being financially responsible for an expensive mechanical breakdown. With our extended auto warranty, you don’t have to worry about being fully burdened with the cost of a covered repair.