Every 2nd day I get an enquiry about how to remove decals that have been baked on a car or truck. When I say baked on, I mean, decals that have been on a vehicle for 10 – 15 years in harsh weather climate – such as the Arizona desert. These are decals that have been on a vehicle that is out in the sun most of the day in temperatures up to 100 degrees
The reason I get asked this question is that some methods don’t work with baked on decals – the reason. The chemical composition of the decal changes over the years. What this means is that the adhesive between the decal and the car gels together so the decal and adhesive become a single common bond. This is factor that makes the decals so hard too remove.
So what methods work for baked on decals. Well first what methods don’t work and why
Applications that don’t work for baked on Decals
1) Plastic razor blade. Doesn’t work. Why, as the adhesive and decal has become one, its almost impossible to get an edge underneath the decal (i.e. get underneath the decal to lift it up). Plastic razor blades are great for new decals or small surface areas
2) Metal razor blades. We never recommend these for painted surfaces as they easily scratch the surface. A ruined paint job due to a scratched surface is the worst outcome
3) Heat gun. Now don’t get me wrong. The heat gun can work for decals that are only a few years old, however for baked on decals it doesn’t cut it. Why??? Because the heat gun works on heating the decal which in turn heats the adhesive, making it loose and able to lift off. However as the adhesive and decal have become one (due to the being stuck on the car for so many years), the adhesive can’t be heated up. When you try this method you can only pick off pieces, the size of a dime, that makes the job impossibly long….
Applications that DO WORK for removing baked on Decals
1) Wonder Wheel: this is a new tool that is made from soft rubber. It works by wearing away the decal and not affecting the surface underneath. So its perfect for baked on decals as it just strips away the decal. The bonus of this method is it also removes most of the adhesive that was left behind. The best way to see this product working is by a video demonstration of it removing a baked on decal from the side of a truck.