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How to remove stickers from a car

There's a right way and a wrong way to remove stickers from your car.

Stickers are without much doubt the easiest and least expensive way of personalising your car, but sometimes they’ve got to come off, and there’s a few things you ought to know to ensure you do no damage in the process - this is how to remove stickers from a car.

Maybe you bought a used car with, well, slightly unsavoury bumper stickers. Or perhaps you feel like you’ve moved beyond your pop punk days, and it’s time to get rid of that Blink-182 decal. Hey, we’ve all gotta grow up eventually.

Whatever it may be, the sticky glue that makes the sticker, stick, can leave behind a residue and damage the paint of a car, so it’s worth knowing how to get stickers off properly.

Car window decals and windscreen stickers are generally safer to remove as there is no paint-work involved, so keep this in mind if you’re planning on adding some new stickers. Depending on where in the world you are, there may be safety laws around adding stickers to your windows, so double check to make sure your stickers are applied in an area that does not hinder the driver’s visibility.

Although some stickers may remove easily, you should never just rip them off like a Band-Aid. Instead, take your time and follow these steps. Let’s get started.

Here are the things you will need to effectively remove a sticker from your car:

  • Soapy water/car wash solution
  • Hair dryer or boiling water
  • Plastic card (gift card, debit card etc)
  • Adhesive remover or distilled white vinegar
  • Car wax or detailing spray

How to get stickers off a car

Start by cleaning up the area around the sticker with soapy water. Dirt and debris can cause scratches, even on plastic, so it’s always better to work with a fresh surface. 

Ideally, you want to heat the sticker up to weaken the adhesive. A hair dryer is the best tool for the job here, as a proper heat gun is too powerful and may damage your paint. 

If you don’t have access to a hair dryer, you could also pour boiling water over the sticker, although this technique isn’t quite as reliable. 

Once the sticker is evenly heated, begin to peel off a corner with a plastic card, like an old gift card or debit card. Whatever you do, do not use a razor blade as this can do serious damage to your paint. 

A plastic card should be strong enough to begin peeling the sticker, so if it is not working, it’s a good sign that you haven’t sufficiently heated the sticker. 

Peel away the sticker, slowly but surely, and check to ensure that the decal is not lifting paint from the car.

If you find that the decal has left a sticky residue on the car's surface, do not fret, there are plenty of adhesive remover products available to make light work of leftover glue and sticker residue.

Your best bet is to use a citrus-based solvent like De-Solv-it or Oomph, both of which can be purchased for under $10 from most good hardware stores. If you’re in a hurry, white vinegar can also do the job. 

Once you’re happy, give the area another wash with soapy water, and dry it off well before applying your favourite car wax or detailing spray, and voila, you’re good to go. 

If you made a mistake along the way and left a scratch, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. CarsGuide has created a comprehensive do-it-yourself guide for removing scratches. Alternatively, you can always head to a paint shop or detailer to get it fixed professionally.

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