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How To Debadge A Car Without Damaging Paint

debadge a car without damaging paintwork

Debadging a car is the act of removing manufacturer’s emblems, model lettering/numbers and other objects on the paintwork. To debadge a car requires minimal effort and no professional tools.

The reasons for debadging a car is usually for the “clean” look but also you may be removing badges that previous owners may have put on the car.

If you want to debadge a car without damaging the paintwork, there are 3 stages:

  • Loosen the adhesive with heat
  • Remove the badge
  • Polish the adhesive residue off

Each stage has many different methods to complete that are discussed in great detail below. Poor technique can result in scratches, chipped paint and markings of where the badge was located.

Table of Contents

Loosen The Adhesive Holding The Badge

The badges that are put on the cars from the manufacturers will 9 times out of 10 be held on from adhesive glue.

Sometimes you may find badges held on through clips or rivets through the body of the car. If it is done in this fashion, you are best of going to a professional paintwork specialist as filler and paint will be required once the badge is removed.

Badges that are held on via high quality adhesive will require a heat source to soften it up. The best way to remove the loosen adhesive is to pour hot water over the badge. Be aware that boiling hot water may damage the paintwork as well as be potentially hurt burn yourself.

You will want to keep the heat on the adhesive, so the best way of doing this is by using a household hair dryer and use the maximum heat setting. This will ensure the adhesive does not harden and makes the debadging process easier.

The badge should be loose after all the heat but if the badge is not responding to heat, you can try some adhesive remover. If you spray this along the edges of the badge, it should drip onto the adhesive.

Removing The Badge

Now that the adhesive is loose enough, you will now have a choice of methods to remove the badge. The personal favorite is by using a dental floss but other methods include using a credit card or a car ice scraper.

The reason I use dental floss over the other methods is because there is less contact with the paintwork. Both the wedge and credit card are solid and can scratch the paintwork under excessive force. However, the use of a harder scraper is often required for tougher adhesive.

When removing the badge with either method, work around the badge and ensure the adhesive stays hot by using a hair dryer pointing towards to work area.

Remove Adhesive and Polish Paintwork

Once you have removed the badge, you will be greeted by an adhesive marking of where the badge was located and tough dirt depending on the age of the car. You may be able to wash the majority of the defect from the paintwork but there will still be markings that need to be rectified.

You may want to invest in the best rubbing compound you can get your hands on as this will make removing the much easier. You may also require a professional polishing machine (beginner friendly) in order to provide enough power to break the strong adhesive down.

It is strongly advised that you apply a protective layer of car wax to the work area once you are happy with the defect free paintwork.

Benefits of Debadging Your Car

To many car owners, debadging your car may seem a bit pointless but there are many benefits that make it a popular process. Advantages of debadging your car include:

  • People won’t know what engine is in your car
  • Easier to polish as residue doesn’t get stuck in the badge
  • Looks smoother and cleaner on certain cars
  • Hides the fact you have a less powerful car than other models
  • Essential for “Sleeper” cars that look slow but are very fast
  • Remove terrible badges from previous owners
procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always likes to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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