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How to Remove Decals from CarWhen you bought that sticker that one time on that trip (it was in tents), it seemed perfectly rational to slap it on your car’s exterior surface at the moment. But the memories have faded — perhaps thankfully — and life has moved on.

You, too, would like to move on by removing said decal from your car, but how? Won’t it damage the paint?

Decal Removal Tips and Tricks

Paint damage isn’t inevitable, especially if you plan ahead a little. Let’s have a look at a few tips and tricks for decal or sticker removal. As with anything, a little forethought and planning never hurt anybody.

Never Put Stickers on Paint in the First Place

It’s better to prevent a need than to require a cure, or so they say, and in this case, they’re right. It’s a whole lot easier to remove stickers from windows than it is from painted body panels. 

There are several reasons for this, not least of which is that glass doesn’t have a delicate layer of paint. It also usually doesn’t have complex curves. It’s really easy to scrape stuff from glass with a sharp blade. In fact, many professional window cleaners have large razor blades in their tool bags for just this purpose.

Choose a Warm, Bright Day

It’s best to attempt the removal on a warm, bright day. The brightness helps you see what you’re doing. It’s not easy to remove stickers in the dark, and it’s a lot harder to do so when it’s cold outside.

When it’s warm, the vinyl of the sticker, as well as its adhesive, are soft and pliable. You stand a much better chance of doing a clean job when it’s warm.

Start with a Razor Blade

If you’re taking stickers off glass, use a very sharp, straight blade and work it under the edge of the decal, always cutting away from yourself. Keep firm downward pressure so that you get under the decal. Work the blade back and forth, if necessary, until you can pinch the edge of the sticker between your thumb and forefinger. Peel it off slowly.

When it’s not possible to start the edge of the sticker with a razor blade, try using your fingernail or a stiff, thin piece of plastic, such as an old debit card or a plastic painter’s knife.

If the vinyl comes off but leaves the adhesive behind, no worries. Products like Goo Gone are really great at removing adhesive — as long as you test it in an inconspicuous place first to make sure it won’t damage your paint. You might even use a product like this to soften the adhesive’s edges before you begin to peel the sticker.

What If There’s Damage?

Do you have one of those little color-matched touch-up paint bottles for your car? Better get one.

Peeling stickers is pretty easy, as long as you’re patient. Choose a warm day, gather your tools before you start work, and take your time. You’ll be back to a blank canvas before you can buy new stickers.