How to make decals for cars – fun and unique Cricut project

How to make decals for cars

Make your own car decal or stickers today.

 

Today my Cricut became a car decal maker machine. Oh, how much fun I had!

If you decorated the whole house already with vinyl, and you can’t find 1 inch to customize…

There is one more project for you. Make a vinyl car decal. It’s a fun way to show your humor or creativity to everyone, and you can make more to your friends and family. Even to sell.

It’s an easy DIY project, and you can design simple car decals with your favorite saying in no time.

 

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So, what is a decal on a car?

Car decals are stickers. It’s that simple. No matter if you buy a decal or make your own, it will have 3 parts, The sticker, the carrier sheet, and the transfer tape.

Since we will place these stickers on a car, it is important to choose the right vinyl for outdoor use. That way, it will hold up for the harsh elements—rain, snow, UV, etc.

 

What vinyl to use for car decals?

 

Of course, in our Cricut community, the most asked question is: can you use Cricut permanent vinyl for car decals? YES. It is permanent, and many crafters made cute, funny stickers for their cars. They also added that even after a year, the Cricut permanent vinyl still in perfect condition.

There are few more favorites.

Oracal 651 usually has a gloss finish, but you can find matte as well if that s your preference. The black and white are rated for outdoor use up to 6 years and all other colors for 4 years. The adhesive is strong and permanent, perfect for outdoor use.

Oracal 751 and 951 are premium vinyl. They are designed for the outdoors. They are thinner and more flexible than their brother 651, and it’s been said that they stand up for the harsh outdoor elements for 8-10 years. They can be perfect for you if you make big signs and car decals.

However, I work on small household projects, like mugs and pantry labels so, I chose to work with Cricut permanent vinyl and Oracal 651.

 

What do you need to make car decals?

making car stickers shopping list

Now that we know a little more about which vinyl works for cars let me show you the exact tools I used for this car sticker project.

 

Other tools you want to gather are scissors, lint-free cloth, and rubbing alcohol.

 

How to make decals for cars step-by-step

how to make car stickers with cricut

Now that you chose the right vinyl for your car decal DIY and gathered all the tools, please turn on your Cricut machine and open Cricut Design Space.

We are ready to make a cute and funny car decal!

 

1. Prepare for cutting your car decal

I will walk you through how to use my Free car decal design or any other you downloaded for this project.

Open Cricut Design Space. If you are new to Cricut, here is a handy tutorial that shows you the basics of the Design Space. 

Once the SVG file of your choice is saved on the computer, you can start working in Cricut Desing Space.

  • Click on New Project.
  • Click on Upload an image. 
  • Click on Browse and look for the car decal SVG file you downloaded from my library or any SVG file you saved on your computer for this project.
  • Click on Save.

The SVG file is uploaded in the Design Space, and you are ready to resize it and make adjustments if needed.

The saved file will appear under “Recently uploaded images.”

  • Click on the uploaded car decal SVG and click on insert images. You’ll find it in the lower right corner. This will take you to a new window with the mat and your design. It’s your canvas area.

 

2. Ungroup and edit the SVG file

how to make car stickers

Before we send our design to cut, let’s go through the steps how to make the perfect decal for your car.

If you purchased an SVG or downloaded mine, the chances are that it came with few layers. The layers are not there to make your life hard; it’s actually the opposite. You have many options to really customized that car decal for your liking. 

For example, if you work with my SVG file, you can make a blackbird with white on the top and spice it up with the yellow eyes and the blue feet. The black base layer will make the blue-footed booby pop on any color.

SVG files come grouped by default. 

  • Click on Ungroup on the right top of the screen. Now you have all pieces separate. 

I decided to use the intricate blackbird with the yellow eyes, blue feet, and the saying.

  • Click and drag on each layer as shown on the second step in the above picture. Once all of them are apart, you can decide which to keep for your car decal.
  • You can either hide the unwanted layers by clicking on the little eyes on the right side of the screen.
  • Or you can delete them. Click on the layer and hit delete on your keyboard.
  • Move layers on top of each other for the final look, as shown in the picture.

 

3. Change text and resize

add text to car decals

Not everybody likes my saying in the SVG. So if you want to add your own text, it’s super easy.

  • Click on Text. You’ll find the text icon on the left side of the Canvas, as shown in the picture above.
  • Type your chosen word in the box. The cursor will be in the box by default. Once you start typing, it might be on top of your design, but don’t worry, we will move it later.
  • Choose your favorite font by clicking on the font box. It is located on the top left of the Canvas.
  • Click on the arrows on the box around the text to resize your saying.

 

Extra tip: Try to choose fonts with the body. Not too thin and not too script.

I used the Noteworthy in my downloadable car decal file because it is a handwritten one and goes well with my hand-drawn crazy bird. 

You might not see this option in your Design Space. It’s because not all fonts are free.

The good news is to access cool fonts; you can sign up for Cricut Access. It worth it if you use your Cricut often because all the fonts and various projects are included in your membership and free to use.

If you decide not to sign up, you can still use your favorite fonts, but you’ll need to pay for it before cutting the project.

 

4. Make simple decals for cars with text

Any word you write in the Cricut Design Space is grouped by default. Sometimes the letters look too separate or way too close to each other.

If you think the letters are too separate or too jammed together, there is a way to correct them.

The problem with separated letters is that Cricut will cut them as is, and you have to have a lot of patience to transfer and align them on the car.

To make a simple car decal with sayings, follow the steps to add text and change font.

  • Select the word and click on Ungroup on the right top of the canvas.
  • Now you can click and drag each letter to the desired place. Once all letters are connected, and you are happy with how it looks.
  • Select all and click on Weld. You don’t want to skip this step because this will merge the letters, and Cricut will cut it as one project.

You can see the process in more detail here under the “how to make word stickers on Cricut.”

5. Car decal cutting Process

cutting vinyl for car decals

We got to the point where our design comes alive.

If your design has more than one layer, you will need to cut each layer separately. You can use 1 mat or make your life easier and purchase a Standard Grip mat pack so you can set up each vinyl on one mat. It saves time!

 

Here are the cutting steps:

Cutting vinyls with layers

  • Click on Make it in the upper right corner of your screen.  It takes you to the cut canvas screen, where you’ll see how Cricut arranged the car decal layers on the mat.
  • Remember each color will be cut on a different mat. They are shown on the right side of your screen. Take a look at the above picture.
  • If you decide that you will put the sticker inside the window, make sure you mirror your design before cutting. Turn on the mirror option on top of the mat.
  • Choose premium vinyl material. If it’s not in your favorites yet, click on Browse all materials and choose the type of vinyl you will use for this project.
  • Make sure that the fine point blade is installed in your Cricut.

 

Don’t forget to set up your mat.

set up vinyl and mat for cutting

  • Use the roller to smooth out the vinyl on the mat. This will avoid bubbles between the vinyl and the mat.
  • Load your mat into the Cricut. The arrow on your machine will blink. That’s when you tap on it.
  • Press the make it button.

Cricut Design Space will tell you when it finished the project.

 

6. Weeding your decals for cars

peeling car decal vinyl from mat

Once the car decal layers are cut, you want to turn the mat upside down. The vinyl is facing down, and you peel away the mat from the vinyl.

It’s important to do it this way because this movement will prevent the vinyl from breaking or curl up.

 

weeding vinyl car decals

If you chose a car decal design with little negative pieces, you might want to use weeding tools. 

  • The easy way to do this is to peel the vinyl away from one corner and the edge first.
  • Once you removed the edges and the bigger pieces, you can use the weeding tools and remove the smaller ones. 

 

7. How to put a decal on your car window or bumper?

 

No matter if you apply this decal to the bumper or the window, you’ll use the exact same steps.

We decided to put the sticker on the back of the car because it was a nice flat surface.

 

8. Clean car window or bumper

You might want to wash your car before. My husband was so nice and washed the car right before the project.

Soapy water is sufficient. Use a lint-free or microfiber cloth to dry the surface completely.

For windows, you can use the same method.  Not a fan of Windex or glass cleaner? You can use a little rubbing alcohol instead.

 

9. Transfer the car decal

layering car decals

We got to the fun part! The decal is ready to show off your fun or meaningful site to the world. 😉

  • Cut a piece of the transfer tape. Make sure the tape will cover the whole design.
  • Place the tape on the cut-out vinyl with the sticky side facing the design.
  • Use the scraper to make sure the vinyl sticks to the tape. Sometimes part of the design is stubborn and doesn’t want to stick right away. Push the scraper a little harder on those spots, or use your nail to press the tape to the vinyl.
  • Peel it off of the carrier sheet.

 

Since I had 3 layers, I experimented a little on how to transfer my crazy-looking bird to the car.

1st method: I placed the bird’s eyes first and then placed the transfer tape on both together. I transferred them together.

2nd method: Then, I placed a transfer tape on the blue feet and added it to the decal, which was already on the car.

Both ways work! I can’t say which method I liked better.

 

10. Apply car window decals

funny car sticker idea

  • Position the design where you want it to be shown on your car. 

If it’s a bigger car decal, you can use masking tape to secure the design where you want it to be on the car.

By doing this, you will be able to adjust and make sure it is straight and centered. Then mark the corners with masking tape so you won’t forget where to place the decal.

  • Remove the backing and stick the decal to the car or window.
  • Use the scraper to press and stick all your design to the car.

I like to start at the top of the design and peel the transfer tape away little by little. I follow with the scraper, so I make sure the decal sticks to the surface, and there are no bubbles.

Once all the transfer tape is peeled back, admire your new car sticker!

 

Here are some questions asked before

FAQ for car decals

Can I use permanent vinyl on my car and bumper?

I did, and I love it. However, please know that you are using permanent vinyl and if you think you might want to remove it later, stick with the window. So you avoid damaging your car’s paint.

 

Can I use Windex to clean my window?

Unfortunately, these glass cleaners tend to leave a residue behind. This is not ideal for decals because they might not stick to the surface for a long period of time.

 

Can you go through a carwash with decals?

Yes. That is good news. We washed our car a few times since the decal is on, and it is still there. I hope your experience will be the same.

I want to add that the car got waxed, and while the decal is holding up fine, one little corner lifted a little. I pushed it back with the scraper, and now it looks new again.

 

Will windshield wipers ruin decals?

While permanent vinyl is designed for outdoor use and can hold up well in harsh weather, the debris from the wiper might scratch your design.

 

How about the heater coils?

So the heater coils will work fine, and the car sticker will stay healthy. BUT since I’m concerned about the UV damage and want to conserve the colors of my car decal, I chose Oracal 651 vinyl for this project.

 

Does Cricut window cling work on cars?

The short answer is yes. BUT please know that window clings are removable. While car decals are permanent (especially the ones we made today), clings don’t use adhesive to stay on car windows.

Instead, they use static electricity. They can be a great fit for you if you want to change the car window decal often. For example, you can use window clings as an advertisement for your handmade business.

 

How to make decals for cars experience

Wow! I’m super happy with my crazy blue-footed booby on my car.

It was a fun project, and the decal holds up well after a few months.

To make sure yours will have a long life get a good quality permanent vinyl. My favorite for outdoor signs and cars is the Oracal 651 or 751. They are designed to hold up well in rain, snow and will keep their colors too. No UV damage here.

Clean your car or car window with soapy water and dry it with a lint-free cloth.

You can place these car decals anywhere you want; however, if you are concerned about the paint on the car or bumper, place them to the window. If you place it inside, don’t forget to mirror the image before cutting. 

I hope you got all the information, and off you go make a cute car decal today. Or two or three. 😉

 

Other cute and easy vinyl projects for you:

 

As always, don’t forget to PIN it so you can come back for the instructions later. Happy crafting! 😉

make decals for cars PIN


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