Applying Custom Decals to Your Car or Truck


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Custom decals can really jazz up your vehicle and you don’t need to pay a professional to put them on your car or truck. It’s definitely a DIY-level project if you are handy. Think you might be interested?  Here’s a guide to installing them.

1 – First, give your car or truck a through washing.  There are special cleaning solutions that you can buy just for washing cars and trucks.  We advise that you look into using one of these because it will be easier on the paint of your vehicle.

On the windows of your vehicle, use isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils or other sorts of residue.  Here’s how: Saturate a soft cloth with the alcohol then wipe down the window where the decal will be applied. Do this several times to make sure all the residue is removed.

2 – If your paint surface is more than a few years old, you may want to give it a good polishing. If you feel comfortable with an electric buffer, consider using one. If you don’t have an electric buffer you can polish the car with good car wax and a soft sponge. Here’s how: Apply the wax to the sponge and rub it on a small area of the car in a firm circular motion. Allow the wax to dry (which takes just a few minutes.) Use a clean soft cloth to buff the waxed area until no residue remains.

3 – Position the decals on the car and secure it temporarily with painters tape. (Note: Do not use a stronger variety of tape as it may hurt the paint when removed.) If the decals are large, consider having someone help you hold them while you position and tape them in place.

4 – Take the decal, Lift it up and peel away the top edge of the removable backing. Press the newly exposed adhesive firmly onto the car. Then slowly peel away the rest of the backing in a downward motion and apply it to the car body in a smoothing motion. Just run over any body edges, such as door gaps, window gaps, etc.

5 – Trim the decal away from the body edges of the car very carefully.  This is best done with a steady hand and a razor knife. After trimming, wrap the decal around the body edge.

6 – Last step, smooth out the inevitable bubbles. With a rubber spatula or a similar device, slowly and steadly press out the bubbles.  You can do this by maneuvering them to the edge of the decal until the air escapes and the bubble disappears.

A trick recommended to us by Sandoval Buick GMC of Columbus, OH:  Once the adhesive on the decal sticks to the car surface, you won’t be able to move it. A trick is to spray a light coat of water on the body panel so you can “float the decal into position. Once your decal is where you desire it, mark the location with the painter’s tape,  blot the area dry with a clean towel and then apply it.