How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (2022)

Vinyl car wraps are built to stand the test of time. However, because the exterior of your vehicle is constantly exposed to elements, over time, the vinyl can degrade and lose its luster and may require replacement.

If your car needs a new wrap, then it’s time to think about removing the existing one. After all, leaving it on for too long will only make the removal process more difficult because the adhesive bond will be much stronger.

Use this guide to learn how to remove vinyl wrap from car and things you can do to make the process hassle-free.

Table of Contents

  • Tools Needed to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car
  • 5 Easy Steps to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car
  • Additional Tips for Removing Vinyl Wrap From Car
  • How Easy Is It to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car?
  • The Takeaway

Tools Needed to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car

  • Plastic scraper: A plastic scraper will go underneath the vinyl wrap and pry it up. Do not use metal scrapers as these may damage the paint of your car. Plastic scrapers can be found at any auto detailing shop.
  • Heat gun: Use this to heat the edges of the vinyl to make it easy to remove.
  • Adhesive remover: Get a mild chemical citrus cleaner designed to break down adhesive. You can find this in your local hardware store.
  • Spray bottle: Use this to spray your adhesive remover over the vehicle.
  • A piece of cloth: Get a clean microfiber rag.
  • Rubbing alcohol: This will help you clean the surface of your car after you have removed the vinyl wrapping. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, use water and mild detergent.

5 Easy Steps to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car

Step 1: Peel the Edges of the Vinyl

How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (1)

Slide your scraper under the edges of the vinyl wrap to lift them. Vinyl edges will mostly be found along the trunk, hood, doors, and any other part of the vehicle with seams. Insert a fingernail first and see if you can be able to peel the edges. If not, go in with the scraper.

Step 2: Heat the Vinyl Edges

How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (2)

(Video) UNWRAPPING BMW M4 - Vinyl Car Wrap Removal

Heating will help soften the adhesive underneath the vinyl and make it easier for you to remove the wrapping. Hold your heat gun over the wrapping about six inches away and move it back and forth so that the heat can be distributed evenly.

How much heat you need to remove the vinyl will depend on the material used to make the vinyl. Do not heat too much that it becomes difficult to hold the wrap.

As you heat, gently tug at vinyl edges to see if they come out easily. Be careful not to heat any areas where the wrapping goes over chrome.

Step 3: Remove the Wrap

How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (3)

Once you are done heating, slip your thumbs under the vinyl edges and have the rest of your fingers spread out over the vinyl. Now, start peeling the wrapping slowly, holding it at a 20° angle to the car’s body.

Try not to rip the vinyl; do your best to keep it in one piece so it can be easy to remove. Also, do not pull off the wrap at 90°, as this can cause the glue to adhere to the vehicle.

If the wrap becomes difficult to pull off, heat again near the edge you are peeling to soften the adhesive. Make sure to heat evenly so all the glue detaches from the vehicle’s body when you begin to pull the wrap off again.

Step 4: Spray Adhesive Remover on Any Leftover Glue

How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (4)

(Video) Removing Vinyl Wrap From Car Made Easy

After you have removed the vinyl wrapping, check to see if there is any residue adhesive and pour a few drops of chemical citrus cleaner over it. If there is a large amount of leftover adhesive, put the cleaner in a spray bottle and mist it over the glue or wet a clean cloth with the cleaner and spread it over the vehicle. Let sit for about two minutes to soak in the glue.

Once the remover has eaten through the adhesive, grab a clean rag and wipe the glue off your car. Move the rag back and forth applying pressure to the affected areas to get rid of all the glue.

If the rag doesn’t get the job done, try scratching the adhesive with a plastic scraper, then wipe off the surface with a clean cloth. When you are done, your vehicle should feel smooth to touch rather than rough and sticky.

Step 5: Clean the Surface of the Vehicle

How to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial) (5)

Most adhesive removers will leave unsightly streaks or cloudy residue on the surface of your car. Soak a soft cloth in rubbing alcohol or soapy water and rub over the body of your vehicle to wipe off any visible streaks. If you are removing adhesive from a window, you could use a glass cleaner.

To learn more about vinyl wrap removal and the steps involved, watch this video.

Additional Tips for Removing Vinyl Wrap From Car

  • Do not work in the sun

Working in direct sunlight can make the adhesive stick to the body of your car, making it harder to remove. If possible, work in a garage or any other shaded area or wait until the sky gets cloudy. Similarly, do not remove your vinyl in cold weather, as this could cause the wrap to rip in smaller pieces, leaving residue that can be difficult to remove.

  • Do a spot test before using commercial adhesive removers

Before using any store-bought cleaner to remove adhesive from your car, spray the product over a small hidden area to make sure it is safe to use.

(Video) How to remove an old vinyl wrap off a vehicle...the easy way!

  • Use power tools to remove vinyl wraps from multiple vehicles

If you are removing vinyl wrapping from a large fleet of vehicles, consider breaking out the big guns. Rent tools like a decal remover eraser that comes with a urethane rubber wheel for your vinyl removal.

  • Don’t leave the wrap on the car for too long

While high-quality vinyl wraps last for many years, eventually, all vinyl degrades and it is important that you remove the wrap before it deteriorates completely.

If you leave it on for too long, the continued exposure to the sun will bake it onto the surface of your car and this will not only damage the paint underneath but also make removing the wrap much more difficult.

Inspect your vinyl regularly and if you notice any hairline cracks or discoloration, have it removed as soon as possible.

  • Know when to enlist the services of a professional

The quality of your vinal wrap and the method used to install it can both play a part in its removal. If the vinyl won’t peel at the edges even after heating, you may want to seek professional help. Experts can use special equipment and methods to completely remove the wrap when it won’t peel as expected.

How Easy Is It to Remove Vinyl Wrap From Car?

For the most part, removing a car wrap is relatively easy. If the wrap itself was bought from a top brand like 3M or VViViD, for instance, then you will likely not encounter any problems, as the majority of films produced by these brands leave no adhesive residue after removal.

However, keep in mind that these brands manufacture dozens of vinyl materials and some products may contain very strong adhesive that should not be used on vehicles. Now, if your car was wrapped with one of these products, then the leftover glue can be very difficult to get rid of.

Therefore, choosing the right vinyl wrap for your car is very important; it will make it easy for you to remove the wrap in the future.

(Video) Step by Step Guide on How to Remove Vinyl Wraps

How easy it will be to remove a wrap from your car will also depend on how long the vinyl has been on the vehicle. If it is more than four years, for example, then chances are that the adhesion bond is pretty strong, hence the removal process may take a little bit of time.

In the spirit of making vinyl wrap removal easy, it is also important that no primer is used during the installation. Some people argue that applying a primer around the edges of the vinyl will prevent water from getting under the wrap, but this is not true.

If your installer takes their time and follows the right guidelines for surface preparation and proper vinyl wrap installation and performs all post-installation tasks, then there will be no need to prime.

Removing a vinyl wrap that has a primer on the edges can be a nightmare; the leftover glue is usually extremely difficult not just to get rid of but also to clean.

The Takeaway

Removing vinyl wrap from a vehicle requires the right tools and patience. Also, the ease of removal will depend on the quality of the vinyl used, how it was installed, and how old it is.

If you are removing a high-quality wrap that was installed a few months ago, then the process should be pretty simple. Just heat around the edges and peel it off. The only time you are likely to encounter problems removing a vinal wrap is if the vinyl is poor quality, has a primer on the edges, or you have left it on for too long.

Related posts:

  • How to Vinyl Wrap a Car? (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
  • How to Apply Vinyl Wrap to Curves? (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
  • How to Vinyl Wrap a Motorcycle? (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
  • How Much Vinyl Do I Need to Wrap My Car?
  • Vinyl Wrap vs. Paint Car: Which is Better?
  • How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Car? (Tips to Saving)

FAQs

Can I remove car wrap myself? ›

The answer is: YES. If the vehicle has been wrapped with a high-quality car wrap vinyl then the removal process is very easy. All is needed is a heat source, preferably a heat gun, some experience and a lot of patience. High-quality films made by Avery and 3M are designed to leave no adhesive residue when removed.

Can you remove car wrap without damaging paint? ›

Although a car wrap may appear to be difficult to remove, the process will not damage your car as long as the wrap is not left on too long (5 years in most cases). Also, if you want to remove a car wrap right after your car is painted, you should wait at least three weeks.

How do you remove stubborn vinyl wrap? ›

Vinyl Wrap Removal Tools
  1. Heat Gun or Blowtorch. Heated vinyl graphics are more pliable. ...
  2. Residue or Adhesive Removers. ...
  3. Plastic Razor. ...
  4. #1 Heat the surface with a heat gun or blowtorch. ...
  5. #2 Start peeling off the vinyl. ...
  6. #3 Remove the remaining adhesives. ...
  7. #4 Give your vehicle a good wash!

How do you remove vinyl wrap without a heat gun? ›

Pull the wrap off at a 15- to 20-degree angle from the vehicle. Slide both of your thumbs underneath the edge of your wrap and spread your fingers out on top of it. Lift the wrap so it's at a 15-degree angle to the vehicle's body and slowly pull up the wrap.

Is it difficult to remove a vinyl wrap? ›

Removing a vinyl wrap is quite easy with a few simple tools. You may want to heat the vinyl first to melt the adhesive, especially on a cold day, and a quick pass of a blowtorch can be enough to achieve this.

Can you use a hair dryer to remove a car wrap? ›

The film is sealed using heat that is applied directly to on to it. It is most famously seen among car-wrappers that apply shrink wrap film to cars to change their colour and appearance. The best tool for carrying out this type of work is a heat gun and not a hair dryer.

How long does it take to remove car vinyl wrap? ›

If you are using a high-quality film then it should come off in one piece. For example, the removal of the vinyl from one door by using the hot water method can take 2-3 minutes, whereas the removal with the heat gun can take up to 16 minutes. Will Removing Car Wrap Damage Paint?

What happens if you leave a car wrap on too long? ›

If you leave a wrap on your vehicle too long, you will greatly increase the chances of paint damage. As the adhesive bonds with the surface of the vehicle body, it gets stronger with time. Thus, you should stay within your wraps' lifespan to ensure that you don't damage your paint job.

Does 3m wrap damage car paint? ›

Paint Protection

There's no need to fear you might damage the paint. In fact, the vinyl will act as a barrier between the paint and weather exposure, rocks and other debris, and the normal wear of time. If done the right way, the vinyl won't even leave a sticky residue when removed.

How do you soften vinyl wraps? ›

Heating will help soften the adhesive underneath the vinyl and make it easier for you to remove the wrapping. Hold your heat gun over the wrapping about six inches away and move it back and forth so that the heat can be distributed evenly.

How do you remove vinyl without damaging? ›

Warm the vinyl with a hairdryer

Turn your hairdryer on low power and gently run it back and forth over the wall decal. The heat from the hairdryer weakens the adhesive on the vinyl. This makes it much less likely to remove any paint when you take your decal off.

How long does it take to remove a wrap? ›

Removing a car wrap properly usually takes about 1 to 2 days in best-case scenarios. However, the process may take longer based on factors including: Length of time car wrap has been on: The longer a war wrap has been on a vehicle, the harder it will be to remove. The lifespan of car wraps is usually around 5 years.

Does Vaseline dissolve vinyl? ›

The reason why petroleum jelly works to remove vinyl is that jelly is good at removing any sort of adhesive residues. Whether it's glue, tape marks, or the adhesive used on vinyl enough petroleum jelly can break its bonds and make it easy to wash away those residues.

Does vinegar remove vinyl adhesive? ›

Distilled White Vinegar

Learning how to remove sticker residue with household items can save you money. Soak a rag or paper towel in vinegar and lay across the sticky area. Let it soak for a few minutes to soften the residue, then wipe or scrape to remove.

Can rubbing alcohol remove vinyl? ›

If the vinyl does not lift away, scrape away the chunks. You may need to soak the shirt with rubbing alcohol again if need be. Rinse your shirt using cold water. Use petroleum jelly to remove the adhesive residue.

Can you use a hair dryer as a heat gun for vinyl wrap? ›

Can I Use a Hair Dryer? This is a frequently asked question and the answer is yes! It doesn't take much heat for the vinyl to become malleable. As a matter of fact, we recommend using a low setting if possible.

Do you use a steamer to remove vinyl wrap? ›

There is no need to use and expose yourself to harsh chemicals. A steam cleaner is the best solution. A steam cleaner has the capability to effectively and efficiently remove almost any vinyl sticker and the adhesive that bonded it to the surface.

Can you use magic eraser on vinyl wrap? ›

The fact is that a sponge might scratch the surface as you go over the vehicle wrap film, which might lead to a costly result. So take your time with the magic eraser, as long as the scratches are not too deep and they come off, your vehicle wrap film would look brand new again as you wipe down.

How do I remove old vinyl wrap glue from my car? ›

How to get decal glue off cars without damage
  1. Reactivate the glue. Use your hair dryer to soften up the glue but be careful not to overheat and damage the paint.
  2. Use a plastic scraper. Remove any loosened glue with a plastic scraper being careful not to scratch the surface. ...
  3. Rewash and wax.

How long should I wait to wash my car after wrap? ›

Do not wash it for at least 72 hours and at the most five days. Let it fully adhere to the vehicle after the installation. The moisture between the film and the vehicle surface needs to dry completely and the edges, that are most likely to come off while washing, have to stick to the paint perfectly.

Does vinyl wrap shrink when heated? ›

In essence, vinyl wrap films behave exactly like shrink-wrap when heated. Of course, it take a little practice to know how much heat to use and how much you can stretch a given film but with some time and patience you'll be a pro in no time.

Does wrapping a car lose value? ›

Increased Resale Value

When a car is wrapped, the resale value is considerably greater than for a car that has been repainted. This is primarily because the wrapper can be removed without damaging the car. Since the wrap preserved the paint, the value of your car is higher because it still looks new.

Do car wraps affect insurance? ›

Yes, installing a vinyl wrap on your car or truck will have an impact on your auto insurance. Hence, we recommend that you review your car insurance policy thoroughly before you get a vinyl car wrap. If possible, speak with your agent about your options.

What happens to vinyl wrap after 5 years? ›

Age and wear over time

In addition, wraps that stay on vehicles longer than three years tend to bond more strongly to the surface and will make wrap removal more time-consuming. Difficulties with damaged or repainted vehicles – Wraps adhere best to vehicles with factory-finish paint jobs and no major damage.

How long does 3M vinyl wrap last? ›

In the vinyl wrap world, the top two brands are 3m and Avery; each claims their materials will last for seven years. Yet, they also each have varying warranties for their materials. 3M's most popular wrap film series 1080 is three years on vertical surfaces.

What do you call someone who wraps cars? ›

Vehicle Wrap / Vinyl Installer.

Is it cheaper to paint a car or wrap it? ›

Cost is a likely factor in a wrapping vs painting decision: is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car? Paint jobs run from $500 (low quality) or anywhere between $1,000-$5,000 (high-quality). A professional wrap runs between $2,500 to $5,000. There is also a labor cost to remove the wrap that may range between $500-$600.

Can you use Goo Gone on vinyl wrap? ›

I've used Goo Gone Automotive to great success removing left over adhesive from badges, vinyl wraps, and decals, . It's just a citrus solvent. Spray it on, let it sit for 20-30 seconds, then use a microfiber towel to wipe away the adhesive in a couple swipes.

Should you wax a vinyl wrap? ›

3M does not recommend using wax or other similar coatings on vehicle graphics. Vinyl wraps may be run through car washes. Touch less car washes are the best for graphic care. Use of brush car washes (depending upon the frequency and quality of brush) may cause dulling/scratching/lifting edge of the graphics.

Does heat remove vinyl? ›

The common and best way to remove the vinyl from your shirt is to use heat or steam. You can do this by using a hot iron, clothes dryer, or hairdryer. You may also consider using acetone, commercial vinyl removers, and Goo Gone to remove vinyl. These chemicals can be effective in removing HTV and vinyl residue.

Do you wait for vinyl to cool before removing? ›

You don't want to risk peeling off the heat transfer vinyl while it's still hot. Give the adhesive time to cool off and bond with the fabric. That's it!

Does WD 40 Remove decals? ›

WD-40 Multi-Use Product is a no-nonsense, easy solution to remove any sticker stain and residue without damaging the surface. Suitable for glass, plastic, metal, and many other surfaces.

How much does it cost to remove vinyl from a car? ›

Changing or removing a wrap is generally an easy process. It can cost $500 but can be significantly more if the wrap has fused to the paint surface, in which case it won't easily peel off. If applied correctly, a vehicle wrap can act as a big, protective cover and help maintain your car's paint condition.

Does vinyl wrap come off easy? ›

Removing a vinyl wrap is quite easy with a few simple tools. You may want to heat the vinyl first to melt the adhesive, especially on a cold day, and a quick pass of a blowtorch can be enough to achieve this.

How do you remove vinyl without vinyl remover? ›

The common and best way to remove the vinyl from your shirt is to use heat or steam. You can do this by using a hot iron, clothes dryer, or hairdryer. You may also consider using acetone, commercial vinyl removers, and Goo Gone to remove vinyl. These chemicals can be effective in removing HTV and vinyl residue.

What happens if you leave vinyl wrap on too long? ›

If you leave a wrap on your vehicle too long, you will greatly increase the chances of paint damage. As the adhesive bonds with the surface of the vehicle body, it gets stronger with time. Thus, you should stay within your wraps' lifespan to ensure that you don't damage your paint job.

How long does it take to remove vinyl wrap? ›

Removing a car wrap properly usually takes about 1 to 2 days in best-case scenarios. However, the process may take longer based on factors including: Length of time car wrap has been on: The longer a war wrap has been on a vehicle, the harder it will be to remove.

How long can you leave a vinyl wrap on a car? ›

You should expect your car wrap to last roughly five to seven years, depending on the finish and proper maintenance.

Does rubbing alcohol dissolve vinyl? ›

Although alcohol does not dissolve polyvinyl chloride, the primary ingredient in vinyl discs, some experts caution against its use on LPs because of the threat of the loss of plasticizer or stabilizer.

Is it hard to remove vinyl? ›

In most cases, vinyl and linoleum are only glued down along the perimeter of the room. This makes the majority of your removal pretty simple. Measure 10 inches from the wall and cut through the vinyl or linoleum with your utility knife, moving parallel to the wall around the perimeter of the room.

How do you remove wrap adhesive? ›

You can use Isopropyl alcohol and water solution to remove the adhesive residue. Wet a paper towel or clean rag and rub the residue to lift it off. If the residue is stubborn, lay an alcohol-soaked rag on it, let it sit for several minutes to soften the residue then wipe it off.

Is there scratch remover for vinyl wrap? ›

But you have to first prepare a magic eraser, which is basically used for the kitchen and it is easily accessible in most stores. These erasers are extremely good for working on those types of scuff marks on vehicle wrap film.

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