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How To Remove Dealer Sticker From Car (Safely)

Image Credit dave_7 via Flickr

Image Credit dave_7 via Flickr

How To Remove Dealer Sticker From Car (Safely)

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What a feeling it is to buy a new car. The fresh new car scent. The way it glistens in the sun. It’s all yours and ready to go. You get home excited to show your friends, and as you walk around the car you notice the unsightly dealer stickers on the car. Thinking it’s easier to remove than it is, you go walk up to remove a dealership name that has no business on your car and it just comes off in little pieces. So you try again trying to peel with your finger and it just won’t come off.

Like you and many others, you just want to remove the dealer sticker and any other stickers on cars you own. I decided to make a guide for you so you can remove those unsightly stickers easily, all on your own. Remove a dealership advertising plug, it’s not like they are paying you to spread their name anyway, and make sure your car looks as good as it can, by following this guide.

One word of warning: You may not want to try this on a decal that’s been on a car for a few years if the car sits out in the sun regularly. Scroll down for a picture that’ll show you why.

Plastic Razor

FOSHIO Plastic Razor Scraper

Safer for you and your finish. Plastic razor blades are cheap and great to have on hand for a variety of detailing tasks.

Adhesive Remover

Goo Gone

Safe for paintwork and almost any surface. Goo Gone is our number one adhesive remover suggestion.

Microfiber

The Rag Company Towels

Inexpensive quality. Not a phrase you hear often. The Rag Company microfiber is just that though.

Plastic Razor

Adhesive Remover

Microfiber

FOSHIO Plastic Razor Scraper

Goo Gone

The Rag Company Towels

Safer for you and your finish. Plastic razor blades are cheap and great to have on hand for a variety of detailing tasks.

Safe for paintwork and almost any surface. Goo Gone is our number one adhesive remover suggestion.

Inexpensive quality. Not a phrase you hear often. The Rag Company microfiber is just that though.

Dealership Decals On Car Paint

Dealers like free promotion. So what better way than to plaster their entire inventory with a sticker. When it comes to removing it though they must have ordered the ones with the toughest adhesive they can find so when someone decides to remove it, it just becomes a pain. Your new car shouldn’t have to suffer from a sticker on it just to promote the local dealer’s advertising. Stickers on car paint could potentially affect the clear coat over a very long period of time and eventually, things just get worse for you, your car, and its paint.

A quick side story. A dealership here in Charlotte used to actually pop rivet emblems onto the back of every vehicle they sold. Literally penetrating the metal. If you removed it you’d have to figure out how to patch the holes and repaint the area. They don’t do this anymore thankfully. I would think the automotive manufacturer they represented had a word with them when they found out and had them stop that practice.

While the adhesive probably won’t damage your finish, the sun will. When a sticker is on your paintwork it blocks the sun’s rays and protects the area underneath from UV damage. This sounds good until you think about it. What happens is the color of your paint shifts slightly due to the sun over time. The area behind the sticker doesn’t shift in color. If your car is several years old and you decide to remove the dealership decal, you’ll find a ghost image of the decal literally burned into the finish of your car or truck. Once this happens there isn’t any wait to fix it except for repainting your car or truck.

I discovered this first hand when I removed vinyl pinstriping from a car when I was a teenager. I’d bought a used car that had vinyl pinstripes added by the dealer (an upcharge tactic I’ll discuss in a later post). Much to my surprise, when I peeled away the pinstripe a ghost stripe remained. It isn’t prominent but it is definitely noticeable. Whether other people noticed it or not didn’t matter. Every time I got into the car “I” noticed it and it drove me nuts.

Paint Fade After Decal Removal
Example of paint fade after decal removal.
Special thanks to JK71 for sharing this helpful image

How To Remove Dealership Stickers

The easiest way to remove dealership stickers to use heat, a plastic razor blade, and paint-safe adhesive remover. They do a complete job without worrying about damaging your paint.

Heat is important because it will help the vinyl sticker to become less brittle and more likely to come off in one piece. It will also loosen up the adhesive.

A plastic razor blade is ideal to use as a tool because it’s much safer for both you and your car’s paint. The plastic razor blade will still work the same as a metal razor blade but without the chance of it scratching or scraping the clear coat of your car or truck. It also won’t cut you if you slip.

A paintwork-safe adhesive remover will handle any of the remaining sticky adhesives that remain stuck to the finish of your car or truck.

Suggested Tools And Some Alternatives

Before we dive headfirst into this process, it’s best to figure out what we can use to remove the adhesive on the sticker. There are several ways you can go about:

  • Adhesive Remover – Adhesive removers are a great option to use. There are several options out there to choose from. One of our adhesive remover choices is Goo Gone. This stuff is gentle on the finish and can help wipe away many stickers both on your car and in the house all with just a microfiber towel usually.  Goo Gone is a great choice as an adhesive remover
  • Hair Dryer – In some cases, this common household tool (that you’re totally gonna ask your wife to borrow) can get this job done. Applying heat to stickers helps to loosen the adhesive and will allow it to pull away from the paint which makes it easier to remove to.  Even if you don’t have a wife you can borrow a hair dryer from then maybe it’s time to buy one? There is no shame in having a hair dryer around guys. A hair dryer has more uses than one might think.
  • Heat Gun – This is the same concept as the hair dryer. It just produces more heat so make sure you are careful here. A heat gun will quickly break through that adhesive and it is a safe adhesive remover if you don’t want to use chemicals but you could burn yourself or damage your paint if you’re not careful. You want to remove the sticker, not your skin.
  • Plastic Razor – Another option though would be to use a plastic razor. This should be gentle enough that it won’t harm your paint. The only downside is it may remove the decals on the car in pieces and leave all that adhesive behind, causing double the work to get it off your paint. No one wants double the work to remove the sticker.
  • Plastic Card – Any of your plastic cards such as a credit card or debit card can work as a plastic razor to peel it away. Just exercise caution here as the same result of leaving a mess behind can happen too. You just want to remove that unsightly sticker off your car but even a plastic card can give you a less desirable result. 
  • Dental Floss – If you’re in a pinch you can use the same stuff you use to keep your teeth clean. It’s better for working under emblems, for example when de-badging for that stealth look. It may take a few tries and will depend on the thickness of the sticker.
 

Heat

This would be my first step to try and remove that dealer sticker on your car that I would try. Whether it be with a heat gun or hair dryer heat is my favorite way of removing any sticker really. Grab your heat gun, let it get up to temperature, and hold it while moving around the sticker. As the heat penetrates the adhesive it should start becoming easier to remove. Then just peel it off, wipe down with a bit of cleaner and a microfiber towel.

 

Plastic Razor Blade

Next, use a plastic razor blade to lift up and remove the sticker. Try not to use too much pressure to avoid scratching the clear coat. Just slowly work it underneath the sticker material to help lift it away from the surface. Keeping a hair dryer focused on it at the same time is a good idea if you have a friend available.

Again, a real razor blade isn’t recommended since it can easily scratch your paintwork and potentially slice your hand open if you slip.

 

Adhesive Remover

Using a high-quality and paintwork-safe adhesive remover like Goo Gone is the final step. With a simple microfiber towel and a product like Goo Gone you can easily remove the remaining adhesive on your car or truck. Microfiber towels are the best choice when doing any wiping on the surface of your car or truck because they are far less likely to create swirls and scratches on the surface of your car or truck finish.

Goo Gone is a known remover that is gentle on almost all surfaces, so you don’t have to worry about damaging paint or anything else.

Another well known adhesive remover that is much more powerful is Goof Off. If left on too long it will begin to soften the surface of your paintwork. It can do the job but be sure to minimize contact with your finish and thoroughly clean the area when you’re finished to ensure you don’t accidentally damage the area around where the decal was.

Helpful Links

Conclusion

In the end, you don’t have to live with an unsightly dealer decal or do free advertising for them. In fact, I would avoid it unless you’re really good buddies with someone there. If you leave the sticker on for too long eventually it’ll leave a ghost image in the paintwork from the sun’s UV rays fading the paint around the decal.

Take the actions you have learned in this guide and remove the sticker on your car or truck when it’s still new. Enjoy dealer sticker free driving!

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