How to Remove a Decal From a Painted Car Surface

Written by corey m. mackenzie
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How to Remove a Decal From a Painted Car Surface
You can remove decals from painted car surfaces without harming the paint. (Luxury Car sportscar from my luxury car series image by alma_sacra from

Decals on cars can age poorly, attracting dirt and getting torn and brittle. When you want to remove decals from a painted car surface, naturally you want to do so in a way that doesn't damage the paint. Methods such as scraping with a razor blade, for example, may remove the decal, but could also leave small scratches or visible scuffing on the car. There is a much easier and safer way to remove decals.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Water-displacing spray
  • Rubber spatula
  • Cloth

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  1. 1

    Put out cigarettes or other sources of open flame nearby--the product you are about to use is flammable. Spray a water-displacing spray, such as WD-40, on the decal, covering it entirely--including around the edges of the sticker. The spray helps loosen and dissolve adhesives without harming paint.

  2. 2

    Allow the water-displacing spray to sit on the decal for a few moments. Reader's Digest recommends waiting 30 seconds.

  3. 3

    Use a rubber spatula to rub off the decal. In many cases, it will come off immediately. If not, don't force it. Spray it again, and wait another 30 seconds.

  4. 4

    Wet a clean cloth in warm water. Use this to wipe the spray residue from the car.

Tips and warnings

  • Water-displacing spray such as WD-40 is sold in many grocery stores (in the household supplies areas), hardware stores, and home improvement stores.

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