There are many reasons to debadge your vehicle. Dealership logo emblems are usually the first to go, but even factory emblems may need to be removed.
Removing your factory emblems is an important part of restoring a classic or getting paintwork done. Without the badges in the way, it’s easy to get a high-quality finish. Many drivers opt to debadge their cars so they can replace the factory logos with something a little more personal.
Some elect to drive badge-less permanently. You don’t need a badge for people to hear your engine, and giving them no hints about what’s under your hood can be fun. On the other hand, if you’ve performed an engine swap, you might want to update your badging. A 5.0L badge shows off the new power under your hood before you even turn the key.
Badges can also contribute, or detract, from an overall look. There’s no doubt that matte paint looks best when the badges match. And removing dealer badging instantly improves a car’s appearance. Unless you really love your car dealer, there’s no need to give them free advertising space on your bumper.
No matter what your reason, safely removing car emblems requires caution. If you aren’t careful, you could damage your paint or even cause minor dents and dings. The good news is that as long as you’re patient, it’s easy to remove your vehicle’s badging.
The Floss Method of Emblem Removal
The dental floss method of car emblem removal is the safest, but it’s also the most time-consuming. As long as you’re a patient person though, this is the best method of badge removal. Flossing will take a long time, but it’s much harder to damage your paint with floss than it would be with a scraper or pry bar.
An additional benefit of this method of badge removal is that you probably have all the tools you’ll need. For adhesive remover, you have a lot of choices. Goo-gone, Simple Green, WD-40, or an automotive adhesive remover are all fine options.
- Hot Water
- Adhesive Remover
- Dental Floss (Or Fishing Line)
- Microfiber Cloth
Step 1: Apply Steam to Badging
Use hot water to loosen the adhesive that’s holding the badge to your car. It’s important for the water to be very hot, but not boiling. It should create a thick layer of steam.
Hold the hot water up to the badge so the steam can loosen the adhesive. An easy way to speed this up is to use a microfiber cloth to create a mini-tent. This tent should encompass the thermos and the badge and will make sure the steam’s path is direct.
Step 2: Pour Hot Water Over Badge
After letting the steam loosen the adhesive, your water should still be hot. Pour the hot water slowly over the badge. This will help to remove the adhesive. This works best as a second step, so the water can get between the badge and vehicle.
Step 3: Remove Badge with Floss
Using dental floss or fishing line, floss the area between the badge and the metal. The motion for this should be very similar to the one you use when you floss your teeth. You don’t want to pull the floss towards yourself but simply saw back and forth from side to side. If the floss stops being able to move easily, get more hot water and repeat steps 1-2 before returning to step 3.
Tech Tip: If you can, soak the floss you intend to use in the adhesive remover. This gives it a little extra power and makes this step more efficient.
Step 4: Remove Remaining Adhesive
Once the badge comes loose, you’ll see a gross mess underneath. No need to panic, that’s normal. Dab your microfiber cloth into the adhesive remover (a little goes a long way) and begin to remove any adhesive left behind.
After the adhesive and dirt have been removed, you’ll be staring at a flat sheet of metal.
Step 5: Wash & Wax
Wash with soap and water. Then, dry the area thoroughly and wax normally. Without wax, the paint is exposed to the elements, so this is an important step.
The Heat Gun Technique of Badge Removal
The heat gun technique is definitely riskier, but it’s also faster. Essentially, a heat gun will melt through adhesive faster than hot water. But heat guns are primarily used to soften and remove paint. Obviously, you don't want that to happen to your car. So it's important to take extra precautions to protect your car's paint if you use this method.
For a less risky route, you can substitute a hairdryer for a heat gun. Hairdryers are less likely to melt your paint. They may also take a little longer.
- Heat gun
- Putty Knife
- Microfiber Cloth
- Adhesive Remover
Step One: Loosen Adhesive with Heat Gun
A heat gun, like the kind you use for paint removal, can be used to remove a car badge. The trick here is to keep the heat gun on its lowest setting to avoid melting the paint.
Step Two: Scrape Badge & Adhesive Off
While applying heat with the heat gun in one hand, use your other hand and a putty knife to periodically check the adhesive. Once it becomes gummy, it should come off with very little resistance. Scrape as much of the gummy adhesive off as you can.
Step Three: Cool & Remove Remaining Adhesive
Allow the finished area to cool. Then, use a microfiber cloth to apply adhesive remover in small circles. This will remove the remaining adhesive. It’s important to let the area cool because the heat gun will have softened the paint around the emblem. Trying to clean it too soon could damage your paint.
Step Four: Wash & Wax
Once clean, apply wax to your newly cleaned section of paint.
Though you can leave your car bare if you’d like, it’s a good idea to make sure that the badge area is UV protected. This is why the last step isn’t just to wash, but also wax. A high-quality car wax, like this one from WeatherTech, can help give your newly exposed paint a layer of UV protection.
Removing a car’s emblems really is that easy. You’ll be tempted to remove every dealership emblem you see after doing it once.
Perhaps just as important as the “best methods” are the worst. This should go without saying, but don’t take a razor blade to a sticker or badge that’s adhered to your paint. While razor blades are a great way to remove internal decals, they’re almost impossible to use without causing some minor knicks.