The emblems on the back your car can sometimes be a symbol of status and a source of pride, but more often than not, they’re eyesores that would fare better as shiny belt buckles. Thankfully, I’ve devised a handy instructional video on how to remove your car’s emblems using nothing but basic hand tools.
Filmed by yours truly and presented by Jalopnik’s resident parking lot mechanic Andrew Collins, the demo above illustrates what it’s like to de-badge your car if you don’t have any power tools at your disposal, and also if you’ve never done it before and don’t exactly know what you’re doing.
Note: While it is much easier to remove these types of badges with a heat gun, it is possible to burn paint if left to heat one spot for too long. Also, as many people don’t have the privilege of owning a garage, our methods can be performed anywhere with the same results.
Here’s what we used:
- Thermos or container with hot (not boiling) water
- Adhesive remover (we used Goo Gone, but anything that is safe for paint should do the trick)
- Flathead screwdriver or plastic wedge
- Plastic card (not your wife’s VISA)
- Dental floss/nylon fishing wire
- Terry towel or rag
Step 1: Find out how your emblem is fastened
Some badges are tacked on with a double-sided adhesive, and some have internal clips or rivets that would leave behind holes that you’d need a body shop to fill to retain a completely clean look. A quick google search should let you know what kind of emblems your car uses.
Step 2: Heat up the adhesive
Using the thermos or container of water, you’ll need to pour it directly on the emblem. This will soften up the glue and will allow the emblem to come off quickly and makes it less likely for the emblem to break during removal. You may also soak the emblem with adhesive remover to make the glue more pliable.
Step 3a: Pry emblem with screwdriver
Using a small screwdriver or plastic wedge, catch the edge of the emblem and peel it up, using the terry towel or rag as a buffer between the screwdriver and paint. Move slow and don’t concentrate on any one area. If the adhesive is too hard, use more hot water to loosen it up.
Step 3b: Cut adhesive with dental floss/fishing line
Using nylon fishing line or dental floss, you can cut into the adhesive behind the emblem. I wouldn’t advise using dental floss, however, as it’s not abrasive enough to do much cutting. Metal fishing line may be used, but be warned that it may scratch the paint.
Step 3c: Pry emblem with plastic card
With the adhesive nice and soft, a plastic card should make short work of badge removal. Attack the emblem from the edges first, working further in with moderate force. after circling the emblem a few times, you’ll be able to simply pull the emblem off.
Step 4: Remove adhesive residue
This is the most time consuming part, by far, as older adhesive tends to stick to paint quite well. Spray liberal amounts of adhesive remover onto the residue and let it sit for a few moments, then scrape it off with the plastic card, wedge, or your fingernail. Do NOT use a metal screwdriver. When most of the residue is gone, wipe down the area and use some rubbing compound to get rid of the hard-to-see residue stains and restore shine to the panel.
That’s basically it! It’s one of the easiest and cheapest mods you can do to your car, and it allows your trunk, fender, or side panel to be the clean expression of automotive sexiness that it was always meant to be.