How to Debadge Your Car

Three Methods:Loosening the AdhesiveRemoving the BadgesCleaning and Waxing the Paint

Many automotive enthusiasts choose to remove the badges from their vehicle. Some do it to improve the aesthetics of their car, others do it to remove indications of the trim they chose when purchasing their vehicles. You can remove the badges from your vehicle using items you can likely find around your house and after applying a coat of wax it will look like the badge was never there in the first place. Most badges are attached at the factory using a strong adhesive glue, but it’s important to note that some vehicle badges are attached using metal or hard plastic clips that connect through the body of the vehicle. These situations may be best left to professional body shops, but for most with simple adhesive badges, de-badging your car is a fairly simple process.

Method 1
Loosening the Adhesive

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    Determine how the badges are fastened to the vehicle. Many automotive badges are held on with a simple adhesive, but some utilize clips or rivets that pass through the body of the vehicle and can leave holes behind. The way the badges are fastened will determine how you go about removing them. If your badges include clips that fasten to the body, removing your badges will require body work that includes filling the holes and repainting that component of the body of the car (at minimum). This should be done at a professional body shop. While you can determine if there are clips or rivets used as you remove the adhesive, you have to remove much of the badge first to see if it is.[1]
    • You can often find out how your badges are attached to your vehicle by conducting an internet search. Try searching something like, “how to remove badges on a 2004 Mustang GT.”
    • Your vehicle’s repair manual should indicate how the badges are fastened in order to replace them if they are damaged.
    • Removing the trim on the interior of the body component will allow you to see if there are clips passing through the body of the vehicle.
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    Use hot water to soften the adhesive. Removing adhesive is much easier when it has been warmed up. One easy way to do so is to fill a thermos with hot water to pour over the badges. Make sure the water is hot enough to be steaming, but not boiling, as that can damage the paint on the car and burn you. Pour the hot water onto the body of the car, just above the badge. This will allow the water to contact some adhesive as well as to warm the rest of the adhesive through the badge. [2]
    • If you don’t have a thermos, you can use any type of water container as long as you get it to the badge before it cools.
    • Boiling water may damage the paint and could burn you. Use hot water, but not boiling.
    • Softer adhesive will let go under pressure and can more easily be separated from the body.
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    Use adhesive remover to soften the glue. You may also choose to spray an adhesive remover all along the edges of the badge. Adhesive remover can be purchased at most office supply or big box retail stores and can help when removing the badges as well as the adhesive that remains on the body after the badges have come off. Look for an adhesive remover you can spray on like Goo Gone or a similar brand. Spray the adhesive remover along the edges to allow it to seep between the badge and the vehicle, but don’t spray too liberally in the surrounding area. Adhesive remover will also remove the wax and possibly even the clear coat on the paint it comes into contact with.[3]
    • Adhesive remover will also come in handy when getting rid of the adhesive residue stuck on the body of the car.
    • Be careful not to get any of the adhesive remover in your eyes or mouth when spraying it.
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    Use a hair dryer to heat the adhesive. Plug a household hair dryer into a nearby outlet and turn it to its highest heat setting. Turn the hair dryer on and use it to apply steady, even heat to the badge you intend to remove. Swipe the dryer back and forth a few inches above the badge until the adhesive begins to soften. If the badge can move or twist under pressure, it means the adhesive is now soft enough to begin removing the badge.[4]
    • Make sure to heat the entire badge evenly so all of the adhesive attaching it to the vehicle softens.
    • Try to wiggle the badge with your fingers to see if the adhesive is loosening.

Method 2
Removing the Badges

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    Pry the emblem from the body with a plastic wedge. With the adhesive softened, place a plastic wedge or scraper on the body panel of the car and press the wedge between the badge and the metal of the vehicle. With softened glue, the badge should pry up from the metal with fairly little force. You may want to approach the badge from a few different angles in order to make sure the adhesive lets go uniformly, otherwise you run the risk of breaking the badge.[5]
    • Be careful not to apply pressure to the scraper unevenly or you risk damaging the paint.
    • This method may result in breaking the badge. If you intend to sell or reuse the badge, you may want to opt for a different method.
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    Use dental floss or fishing line to cut adhesive. Take a ten to twelve inch length of dental floss or fishing line and wrap the ends around your index fingers. Pull the length of line between your fingers through the loose adhesive on the side of the badge opposite your body. You may need to create a sawing action my moving your hands back and forth to pull the line through all of the adhesive. Once done, there should only be a bit of adhesive residue left on the vehicle, but the badge itself should come off.[6]
    • Pull the line toward yourself, cutting through the adhesive attaching the badge to the body.
    • More force will be required to cut through the adhesive if it isn’t sufficiently warmed.
    • You will most likely be able to remove the entire badge without breaking it using this method.
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    Use a credit card to cut the adhesive and pry the badge from the car. If you don’t have a plastic wedge or any fishing line, you can also remove the badge with a credit card. Once the adhesive has been properly warmed, slide your credit card under the badge and pry up slightly. Work your way through all of the adhesive by sliding your credit card around at different angles and separating the badge from the metal.[7]
    • Make sure the side of the credit card with the numbers is facing out so you don’t scratch your paint.
    • The warmer the adhesive, the easier it will be to separate the badge from the vehicle using your credit card.
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    Use adhesive remover to remove adhesive residue. Once the badge has been removed from the body of the vehicle, there will still be residue left over from the adhesive that was used to attach it. Spray an adhesive remover like Goo Gone on the residue, then use a clean microfiber towel to rub the remaining residue off the vehicle.[8]
    • Rub the adhesive remover over the residue in a circular motion.
    • Be careful not to spray the adhesive remover in too large an area, as it will remove wax and can damage clear coat.

Method 3
Cleaning and Waxing the Paint

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    Wash the de-badged area with soap and water. First, use warm soapy water to make sure no adhesive or adhesive remover remains on the paint. The wax will serve as a seal once applied, and you don’t want to seal the adhesive to your paint under a coat of wax. Use a sponge to scrub the area lightly, then rinse it thoroughly to ensure it is completely clean.[9]
    • Make sure to use soap designed for automotive applications, as things like dish soap will remove more wax and clear coat from the paint.
    • Ensure the sponge is clean of dirt and debris before you begin scrubbing. Any debris caught in the sponge can cause scratches in the paint.
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    Allow the area to dry completely. Once the area the badge was is completely clean, use a clean microfiber towel to dry it thoroughly. You may also want to allow it to air dry for a an hour or two before you begin applying wax, as it’s important for the paint to be completely dry before you can begin.[10]
    • Wax will not apply evenly to wet or moist surfaces, so wait until the paint is completely dry.
    • Some waxes are designed to work on wet surfaces, but these often do not offer the same level of protection.
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    Ensure the vehicle is out of direct sunlight. For wax to work properly, it shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight. Automotive wax performs best in cool, shady environments. It's important that the surface the wax is applied to isn’t too hot. If the temperature is too high, elements of the wax will dry out too quickly for you to effectively wax the de-badged area. Move the car so the portion you are waxing is in a cool, shady space.[11]
    • Waxing your car in direct sunlight will result in a worse final product and lackluster shine.
    • Be sure the metal of the car has cooled from when you were heating the adhesive.
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    Apply the wax in a circular motion. With the vehicle completely dry, use the applicator that came with the wax to apply a small amount of it to the area that was once under the badge. If you are using a liquid wax, you will only need a small dab for the area you are working with. Squeeze out enough wax onto the applicator to take up about the space of a quarter. Rub the wax compound into the paint in a circular motion.[12]
    • Ensure you apply the wax evenly to the area.
    • More wax does not necessarily mean a brighter shine. Only use as much wax as you need to.
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    Wait for the wax to dry. Once you have applied the wax evenly to the surface of the vehicle, you’ll have to allow it to dry completely before buffing it off. Some waxes are designed to dry quickly and may be ready to buff of in just a few minutes. Others may take up to a half hour. You’ll know the wax is dry when it becomes white.[13]
    • Take your index finger and lightly swipe it through the dry wax. If it rubs off onto your finger, it’s dry.
    • If the wax still sticks to the vehicle, allow it dry for another few minutes and try again.
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    Buff the wax off with a microfiber towel. Once the wax is completely dry, take a clean microfiber towel and buff it off using a circular motion. As you remove the dry wax residue, you will reveal the newly shiny paint beneath. Rotate the towel as frequently as needed to avoid saturating it with wax residue as you buff the wax off.[14]
    • Do not apply too much force when buffing the wax residue off of the vehicle. If it is difficult to remove, the wax hasn’t dried sufficiently yet.
    • There may be some wax residue dust left over after buffing. Lightly blow on the body panel of the vehicle to remove the dust.

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Categories: Car Maintenance and Repair