How to Remove Old Vinyl Vehicle Graphics

Author: FASTSIGNS® Portsmouth

If you’re updating your current vehicle graphics, or need to remove old vinyl from a secondhand purchase, you need to take your time and follow a process to ensure removal of the old graphics doesn’t cause damage to the paintwork underneath - that could end up being very costly.

The first thing to be aware of is how long the vinyl has been on the vehicle - the older the vinyl, the harder it will be to remove.

What Tools You Will Need
Plastic scraper
Hair dryer or heat gun
Microfibre cloth
Adhesive remover
...and patience!Cleaning supplies


Whilst it’s not necessarily a difficult job, it is tedious and time consuming. So make sure you’re prepared and have enough time. It’s important to do this right as rushing it could cause damage and will leave a messy, unprofessional finish.

Before you get started, make sure you’re in a well ventilated area and/or wear a protective mask as you will be exposed to chemicals from the adhesive and alcohol that may be unpleasant.

Removing Old Vinyl: The Method

Focusing on a small area at a time, point your hair dryer or heat gun and begin to melt the adhesive under the vinyl.

Don’t heat it so much that it’s too hot to touch. If the vinyl gets too hot it’s likely to stretch and tear and this makes removing it a lot more difficult, not to mention take a lot longer to complete the job.

With the small area heated, use your plastic scraper to push up the edge so there’s enough to grab and pull. If at the right temperature, you should be able to pull off a relatively large piece in one go.

Repeat this process until all the vinyl is removed.

It’s likely that there will be residue left from the previous adhesive. If this is the case, take your microfibre cloth and apply a small amount of adhesive remover and buff the area until the residue has been lifted.

Before applying any new vinyl, it’s essential that the surface is clean and completely free from any dirt or dust. Wash the vehicle thoroughly first and wipe over the surface with the microfibre cloth and alcohol.


Removing vehicle graphics takes a lot of work, but it’s essential that it’s done and done right in order to get the best result at the end. If you’re planning on updating your own vehicle and need help removing the old vinyl and/or applying the new, do get in touch.