Monday, April 30, 2012

Removing vinyl racing stripes from a car

Removing vinyl racing stripes from a car can be quite a nightmare.  In this 2 part blog, I will tell you how to quickly and easily remove old vinyl racing stripes from a car and install new ones.  Before I replaced my 10" dual racing stripes on my 2007 Mustang GT, I did a lot of research online on how to go about it.  There are pretty much 3 ways to do it, however not all of the will work.  The 3 ways are:

1.  Soak up the vinyl with an adhesive remover and after 5-10 minutes peel them off.
2.  Use a heat gun/blow dryer to heat up the vinyl and then peel it off.
3.  Use an eraser wheel.

The 1st  method did not work at all. 

The 2nd  method may or may not work.  It really depends on how old the vinyl is.  If the vinyl is fairly new, you might be able to heat it up and peel it off as a whole piece.  The hotter the vinyl the better it will come off.  Don't blow the hot air on the vinyl as you are lifting and pulling it because the vinyl will stretch and rip.  You want to heat it up first and then pull.  In my case, the vinyl stripes were about 3 years old and kept tearing into tiny shreds.  As soon as I tried pulling on them, they ripped.  Also, if you are successful using this method, most of the adhesive will remain on the car and you will have to spend a lot of time trying to rub it off. 

To make the peeling process a bit easier and less painful, you can use a plastic putty knife instead of your fingernails.  This will make the initial lifting of the vinyl a bit easier and wont hurt your fingers.  I bought my plastic putty knives at Home Depot for less than $3. (Plastic Putty Knives)

When it comes to removing the adhesive, make sure to use a rough towel or terry cloth towel.  Microfiber will be too soft and will not work.  Products such as WD-40 or GooGone will work well and will not damage the paint or clear coat.    

Just to give you an idea on how much of a time waster this second method was for me, it took me about 2.5 hours removing the 10" dual racing stripes from the hood and another 2.5 removing the adhesive with GooGone.

The 3rd method, using the eraser wheel was the quickest and the best.  An eraser wheel will cost you anywhere between $10-$40 depending on where you buy it.  The one I used was the 3M Adhesive Eraser Wheel (3M Eraser Wheel).  You should be able to buy it at your local auto parts store or online.

The eraser wheel is made of a rubber like material that will rip the vinyl right off the car and also remove the annoying adhesive.  It will not damage the car paint or clear coat if used properly.  The eraser wheel attaches to a regular household drill.  You just have to make sure not to exceed 4000 RPM on the drill.  The drill I used had about 1800 RPM and that did the trick.  I would not recommend using a battery operated drill because it will drain the battery pretty quickly. 

Using the eraser wheel, I was able to remove the vinyl stripes from my roof, which is slightly shorter than the hood, in about 30 minutes.  Most of the adhesive was removed too.  The left over adhesive was rubbed off with GooGone.  30 minutes versus the 5 hours I spent on the hood is a huge difference.  Also it involves much less manual labor since all you have to do it hold the drill with your hands and the eraser wheel will do everything for you.

When using the eraser wheel, make sure to do it outside.  The vinyl will turn into a fine powder so you don't want it all over your garage.  Wearing some sort of a face mask and protective eye wear is a must.  You don't want the vinyl dust getting in your lungs or eyes. 

The images below should give you a slight idea of the process.

Removing vinyl stripes from the hood with a hair dryer

All the leftover adhesive once the stripes were removed

Clean side versus side with adhesive

Hood after removing all the adhesive

3M Adhesive Eraser Wheel

3M Adhesive Eraser Wheel

Work in progress using the 3M Adhesive Eraser Wheel

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