Can You Remove a Vehicle Wrap Yourself?

by McKinley McGinn on August 1, 2016

Common Situations for Vehicle Graphics Removal

Box_Truck_Vinyl_Removal_Riveting_Wraps_Seattle_WA.jpgWe are frequently asked about vinyl removal. A client may ask because they are thinking ahead to when they have to return their leased vehicle.  Or they are looking to update their graphics with new branding and would like to remove their graphics.  We also get contacted by clients who buy used vehicles with graphics still on them from the previous owner that need to be removed.  And finally we sometime install promotional graphics designed to be temporary and we schedule the removal at the end of the promotion period which could be anywhere from 30 days to a year.  Removing the graphics yourself is always an option.  Whether you will want to take it on yourself may depend on a few factors.

What Influences Difficulty of Vinyl Removal

The best way to tell how easily the vinyl will come off is simply by trying to remove it.  If it peels off easily, you may want to just go ahead and remove it yourself.  If it is brittle or does not want to release from the vehicle in large pieces, you may opt to have it removed by professionals. Either way, it is not something we would describe as fun.

There are two factor that determine difficulty for removal

  1. Length of time on the vehicle.  The longer the vinyl has been on the vehicle, the harder it will be to remove. Additionally, the longer it’s on, the more likely it is to leave adhesive residue on the vehicle. 3M warranties their vehicle wrap vinyls for a clean removal up to four years.  After that time, the adhesive becomes more  and over time the vinyl itself becomes brittle.  If the vinyl has been on the vehicle for under four years, you may be able to remove it yourself. Just find an edge, and being careful not to scratch your paint, pull the vinyl off the vehicle.
  2. The type of vinyl  Calendered, economy or non-brand name vinyls make removals unpredictable. The top vinyl manufacturers charge more for their vinyls because they invest in R&D and testing to ensure the adhesives used on their vinyl can be removed from the vehicle without damage to the paint. Like all branded products and services, they need to protect their brand and reputation in the market place.  Cheap or unknown vinyls do not have these concerns. For companies using economy vinyls, it is all about winning the business with a low price and letting someone else deal with removal later. In this case, the best way to make a decision about removing your own vinyl graphics to to try to remove a portion and see how easily it comes off.

What to Do With Vinyl that is Hard to Remove

For stubborn vinyl, we use a heat gun to get the vinyl warmed up. When the vinyl is warm, it softens a bit and can be manipulated as it softens the adhesive as well. Our installers (or rather uninstallers) will use a small plastic tool on the heated vinyl to carefully remove it from the vehicle without scratching the paint. If the vinyl has been on for a really long time, it will take a lot longer to get the vinyl off. It may leave behind adhesive residue that will have to be removed separately with a solvent.  Additionally, it might break up and come off in really small pieces if the vinyl is brittle. If you think this is the case, definitely have your wrap company take care of the removal. It would be incredibly difficult for you to do it yourself. Keep in mind however, the company will likely have a wrap removal fee that will be based on time and materials required for the removal.

To find out if removing vinyl from your vehicle is something you can do, let us know! We are more  than happy to help you find a solution.

Quality Only Begins with the Right Materials

New Call-to-actionVehicle wrap companies have learned that many buyers think using the right materials is the only important criteria to evaluate a quality wrap.  And it certainly is an important criteria. But how the material is printed, handled and installed are equally important.  Learn more getting a high quality wrap.

These vehicle wrap failures can come with a very steep price.  Get the straight facts on vehicle wrapping, contact Riveting Wraps at (425) 368-5007 or email us at 

Topics: Wrap It Right

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