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How To Remove a Vinyl Vehicle Wrap

Posted on August 15, 2014 | Posted by Brooke Randell

What comes up must come down! Eventually that brand new vinyl wrap you got on your car, truck, or van will need to be removed and replaced. If your installer does a quality job on your vehicle wrap, uses high-quality cast wrap vinyls from trusted vendors, and laminates the vinyl before applying it, then it shouldn't be too hard to remove the vinyl when the time comes. In fact, going with a certified installer in the first place should make your wrap last for years before it needs to be replaced.

How to remove a vinyl vehicle wrap. 12-Point SignWorks

Pull the vinyl off at a taut angle to make it easier to pull off long strips and panels.

If your wrap was well-installed with the right high-quality materials then it shouldn't be too difficult to remove the wrap. Mostly it will take time and a little heat! Your vinyl wrap is kind of like a sticker that has been placed over your car, but unlike normal stickers there shouldn't be any adhesive residue left behind when you start to peel the vinyl off. 

Use a heating agent like a heat gun or blow torch to warm up the adhesive and make it more pliable and easy to peel off the car. If you live in a warm climate and the wrap is fairly new, even leaving the car outside in the hot sun for a couple of hours can make it easier to peel the vinyl off! 

Next, try to catch the vinyl at the corner of one of the seams and begin pulling it from there. Your wrap installer probably tried to hide most of the seams by tucking them into the body work of the car around the lights, wheel wells, and other ends and corners of the car. You can help catch up or pull back corners using plastic chisels or razors. These are hard and strong enough to pull on tough pieces of vinyl without scratching and damaging the paint of your vehicle like a metal razor would. After catching back a piece of the vinyl, pull it back at a straight 45 degree angle to keep a smooth amount of tension pulling the vinyl off in one long strip. 

How to remove a vinyl vehicle wrap. 12 Point SignWorksSee how there's no residue left on the van where the vinyl is being pulled off? That's the sign of a well-maintained and installed wrap.

The longer you leave a wrap on a car, the more difficult it will be to take off because the vinyl will become more brittle instead of pliable. Unfortunately, when people don't maintain their wrap well it can ruin the wrap, bake the vinyl onto the car, and make it very difficult to remove. Another thing that can make it very difficult to remove vinyl from your vehicle is if your wrap installer used a primer. Some wrap installers used to believe that 3M primer was necessary in addition to the adhesive to keep the edges from peeling up.

There is occasionally a time and place for a primer on a vehicle wrap, but it should be a moderate and well-hidden amount. When installers slop thick layers of primer under a wrap, it will technically keep the vinyl from curling up at the edges, but it will make it extremely difficult to remove the wrap after it starts to need repair. It turns the adhesive into more of a shellac instead of the sticky second-surface it's supposed to be. This is particularly bad news if you are also neglecting to maintain your wrap, because the vinyl will start to crack, collect dirt, and bake into the hardened adhesive. It's a nightmare to remove!

If you find yourself stuck (no pun intended) with a stubborn wrap that just doesn't want to come off, then there are a couple of tools to help you. After heating up the vinyl with a heat gun or other heat source, you'll probably be able to get the first layer of vinyl off but dirty adhesive residue will be left behind on the body of your car. To remove this leftover gunk, you'll want to apply a chemical adhesive remover to your vehicle. We usually use Rapid Remover liquid adhesive remover or 3M Citrus Base aerosol spray adhesive remover to loosen and remove adhesive. The 3M Citrus Base will make your whole workspace smell like oranges so you might want to leave a window or door open and wear a protective face mask when using these sprays. Spray the remover over the area you are working on and wait at least one minute to let it sink in and start working. The adhesive will soften into a gummy substance that you can then use your chisels and razors to scrape off. It may take a couple of times doing this to really get the majority of the gunk off. After most of the adhesive is off and softened you can clean off any chemical residue by spraying the car with alcohol and rubbing it down with clean paper towels or cloth towels.

Hopefully this article is helpful to those looking to get a wrap removed, but if you have any further questions about tips for wrap removal feel free to give us a call at 615-595-6564!

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