Vinyl signage and lettering are very popular among vehicle owners. These imprints are created using a technology called decal which is the abbreviated form of decalcomania. Vehicle owners use decal to personify their vehicles.
Creating a Decal
The required design is carved on reflective or non-reflective vinyl according to the specification of the job. The vinyl has an adhesive peel of layer which is stuck on to the surface by experienced designers.
It is compulsory for some segments like law enforcement agencies and fire department to use decal on their vehicles. Putting a common insignia and words on a group of vehicles under the same ownership is called fleet marking.
What is Ghost Lettering?
If for some reason or the other, you removed the vinyl signage from your vehicle, it will leave a visible imprint on the body which will not go off easily. Ghost lettering is caused by oxidization when the vehicle gets exposed to various elements. Another reason is the fading of the paint due to exposure to the sun. The paint behind the vinyl remains unchanged to complete the ghosting effect. The adhesive on the material also creates ghosting on your car.
Most vehicle owners have faced the dilemma of how to remove ghost lettering from car at one time or the other.
The Common Reasons for Removing Decal
Certain situations warrant the removal of vinyl graphics from your car.
i. A new painting job.
ii. Change in law or a new law regarding the graphics on a vehicle.
iii. A directive from superiors about decal lettering.
iv. Change in the organization’s colors or logo.
v. An overall makeover for branding purposes.
vi. Change of ownership of the car.
An experienced designer has adequate tools and techniques to remove ghost lettering from your vehicle caused due to any of the above-mentioned reasons.
How to Remove Ghost Lettering From Car
There are several proven ways to get rid of ghost lettering from any vehicle. The common factors that need to be considered include:
i. Age of the decal.
ii. Nature of ghosting that remains.
iii. Strength of the adhesive.
Let us now have a look at the methodology involved in typical cases of ghosting.
Removing the Decal
The ghost lettering will appear only after the vinyl lettering has been taken off. Designers employ different tools to take off the sheet without causing defilement to the car’s surface. Some people simply peel off the vinyl by getting beneath an edge.
Another popular method for decal removal is air heating for some time before peeling off the signage.
The First Step to Remove Ghosting
After peeling off the vinyl sheet, you will find some amount of adhesive remaining on the surface. Get rid of the adhesive to check on the nature of ghosting and to apply removal methods.
Use a mild industrial strength solvent on the surface. It is extremely important to avoid abrasives or strong chemicals as they can be hazardous to the surface material or the paint. Spray the adhesive remover and wait for a few minutes for the substance to take effect. Use a squeegee or sponge to wipe off the unwanted stuff. Repeat the procedure for best effects. Wash the surface with water and wipe off to view the results.
Tip: Do not wipe off using any fabric as the cloth material can get stuck on to the residue. A water-soluble remover is best in solving the mystery of How to remove ghost lettering from car.
The Exterior Material
It is very important to identify the material used for the exterior of your car before attempting any of the ghost lettering removal techniques. The following methods will help you identify the material:
i. Fiberglass gel coat: Most vehicles that are white or cream, usually get a coat of fiberglass gel. Strips or paint at the bottom is telltale signs of this material.
ii. Aluminum: The color that is used by designers of decal on this material will be white along with paint jobs. To get a smooth texture it will have some corrugation if the material used is fiberglass instead of aluminum.
iii. Painted finish: This exterior is a bit expensive compared to the other two. The result is attained by using a good quality paint base. The exterior is completed by applying a clear finish on the paint base. They are very easy to wash and wax.
Removing Ghosting from Fiberglass
The method and substances used in oxidation removal from fiberglass surfaces are a little different.
i. Use a sponge brush outdoors to eliminate messing up your garage. This will also remove any risks of breathing in chemicals.
ii. Get a mild liquid oxidation remover and soak the brush in it.
iii. Scrub the surface having oxidation using medium pressure evenly.
iv. As the scrubbing progresses, apply more of the liquid remover.
v. Keep on rubbing till the surface is restored to its original look.
Make sure to take time in discovering the material used for the exterior of your vehicle before beginning this process.
Can Ghost Lettering be Removed?
It is mentioned above that ghost lettering can occur due to many reasons. The signage can stick out because the paint of that particular area is intact. If the remaining area has faded off, what is the way out? We will address that later on.
How to remove ghost lettering from car caused by years of vinyl lettering? A common cause for ghost lettering is discoloring because of oxidation around the vinyl sheet. This can be taken care of by removing the oxidation visible on the surface of the car. A good oxidation removal substance should be able to match the color of the vehicle with the area that remained unaffected by oxidation due to the protection from the decal material.
Spray the deoxidation material on to the areas affected by oxidation and leave it for about a minute. Use a gentle brush to gently press the stuff on to the body of your car with multiple strokes. Wash off the area thoroughly and wipe dry with a soft cloth.
Tip: If the decal has been on your car for many years, repeat the procedure for best results.
Is Vinegar a Good Oxidation Removal Liquid?
Some car owners use a mix of vinegar and water to scrub off oxidation. This is a common method among boat owners. The correct ratio of vinegar to water is four tablespoons in a gallon of water. The problem with using vinegar is that the oxidation is sure to return unless you followed up with a good waxing.
The Wet Sanding Method
This method is used only as a last resort to remove very adamant ghost lettering caused by oxidation. If good quality polish or wax could not get rid of the scratching on your vehicle try wet sanding.
Sand the affected area in a smooth and gentle motion for sometime till you see visible changes in the oxidized area.
The Best Practices for Removing Ghost Signage
Don’t be too hasty as using force may damage the surface of the vehicle or the paint. In the case of adamant adhesive residues, use your strength gently for great results. Never opt for strong cleaning liquids or abrasive pads. Repeated procedures will remove the last iota of the substance.
Electric Buffing for Quick Results
Good waxing usually gets rid of most effects of oxidation. An electric buffing machine will apply wax on your car much faster and with efficiency to achieve an enhanced look minus the ghost lettering.
Tip: Use only a wax that suits the material of your car’s body.
How to Remove Ghost Lettering From Car Using a Hairdryer
A hairdryer can be used to heat the oxidized area to remove any residues.
i. Heat the area using a hairdryer. Slowing start picking the adhesive and it will gather mass as you proceed.
ii. After most of the adhesive has come off, spray some cleaning liquid, and wipe off the area using a soft fiber.
iii. Apply a paper towel and apply a mild cleaner to pick put any adamant adhesive or grit still left on the surface.
Repeat the process once or twice more to make the area sparkling clean.
Converging Various Methods
We can remove all signs of oxidation from your car with a little patience using the below method:
i. Wash the area with ghost lettering and let it dry off.
ii. Submerge a rubber sanding block with sandpaper in warm water for about two minutes.
iii. Wet the car’s body having ghost from decal removal.
iv. Apply the sanding block over the area while maintaining uniform pressure.
v. The oxidized pigments will glide along from the area in a short time. Stop sanding at this point.
vi. Wash the sanded area thoroughly and inspect for any unevenness of color.
vii. In the case of some oxidation remaining, repeat the process.
viii. The result will be a very fine glossy area. After you are satisfied that no trace of oxidation is remaining, use a good quality wax to finish off.