Your car’s badges, or emblems, offer a great opportunity for customization. A new emblem is an inexpensive way to make your car a little more “you” or create a look you love. But a poorly applied emblem can create the wrong look, or even peel off at an inopportune moment.
By badging your vehicle correctly you’ll get a professional OEM look that can stand the test of time.
Preparing Your Car for a New Emblem
It’s possible you’ll need to remove a badge before you can get the perfect placement. Read our guide on debadging for tips that will leave you with a clean surface.
If you’re working on an area that doesn’t have an emblem, you’ll want to start with cleaning. The cleaner the surface, the better your new emblem will adhere.
Before rebadging, wipe down the entire area with rubbing alcohol. This will remove any old wax buildup, which can also keep an emblem from adhering properly.
How To Put a New Emblem on Your Car
- Painter’s Tape
- Outline Badge Location
Use a level and painter’s tape to isolate the area you’d like to badge. These should help you create a level and clearly marked area for your badge. Make sure to check for straightness horizontally and vertically. This will keep you from getting a badge that’s slightly askew.
- Make Sure Badge Is Level
Once you’ve marked off the area, look at it from different distances and angles to ensure you’ve got it placed just right.
- Expose Adhesive and Apply Emblem
If the badge you’re applying already has adhesive, expose the adhesive and then firmly and decisively place the emblem. If it doesn’t, use the emblem itself to carefully cut a piece of adhesive that fits.
Tech Tip: If you’re applying your own adhesive, you want it to come out to the edge of the badge. If you leave a space, debris, water, and other rust-causing substances can become trapped.
- Hold Emblem In Place
Hold the badge in place for several minutes. That way you can be sure that it’s thoroughly bonded to the vehicle.
What If You Have Pin Emblems?
Some emblems, like the running Mustang grille logo, are secured via pins. There are methods for removing the emblems without breaking the pins. Most of these involve gently prying the backs of the pins loose from behind. Most people who’ve tried end up breaking the pins anyway.
If you do break the pins the emblem can still be reused. You can simply purchase double-sided adhesive and make your own backing for it. You’d then apply it the same way you would an adhesive badge.
Cleaning Your Car Emblems
When an emblem is first stuck to a vehicle, it’s at about 60% of its bond strength. While that’s enough for light use, it wouldn’t be a good idea to wash your car right away. After 24 hours, your emblem should be at about 80% of its bond strength. This is good enough to hold on while driving in the rain, but for washing it’s recommended that you wait at least 72 hours. After that, you can safely wash your car, emblem and all, with mild soap and water.
Some people have noticed their emblems don’t hold up well if they use automatic car washes or harsher soaps. This is especially true for chrome emblems, which are susceptible to pitting. Handwashing is always going to be the best option. Afterwards, apply a plastic-safe UV protectant to keep your emblems from succumbing to sun damage.
Car Badge Options
Badge options are only limited by your imagination. Though most people prefer to get some variation of a factory-style badge, there are many other choices. The advent of 3D-printers has made it easier than ever to create customized options.
Many car’s badges relate to the engine. If you’ve just upgraded your stock engine for something more powerful, you may want to change your fender emblem to reflect the change. On the other hand, you may want to add badges that weren't included on your car from the factory. The early EcoBoost Mustangs are a prime example.
Even simple swaps, like changing out your stock badging for ones with a new color can dramatically affect your look. Pairing high-contrast colors, as seen below, will definitely make a statement.
For off-road enthusiasts, badges related to the trails they’ve conquered are especially popular. If you’re a Jeep owner, you can download an app and notify Jeep about your most recent off-roading expedition. They’ll send you badges you can use to proudly display your achievements.
Some enthusiasts want to up-badge their car to reflect their vehicular ambitions. Others prefer to downbadge because they love watching jaws drop. Regardless of your goals, there are options that will suit you. And if you can’t find one that suits your fancy, there’s nothing wrong with leaving that real estate vacant.