Decorate the Exterior of a Car

Your car is one of the easiest things to customize, so don't settle for driving a car that doesn't inspire you. Once you've improved the inside of your car, look for accessories that can easily make the outside of your car look unique. For example, use decals to add graphics or text to the sides or back of your car. You can even decorate your car for special events, such as weddings, holidays, or sports events.


Modifying Exterior Car Parts

  1. Replace your hubcaps with custom ones to make your tires stylish. If your car has broken hubcaps or is missing them entirely, you may want to buy a new set. Check your local auto parts store, tire shop, or online to find hubcaps that will fit your tires and change the look of your car.[1]
    • Look for chrome hubcaps if you want bright, shining hubcaps that catch the eye.
    • Choose hubcaps with wires that radiate from the center for a vintage look.
    • Select hubcaps that have spinners in the center to create extra movement.
  2. Attach personalized license plate frames. You don't have to settle for the boring license plate frames that came when you got your car. Instead, look into buying or decorating frames so they show your interests. For example, buy a frame that shows something you like, such paw prints, a sports team's mascot, or an inspirational quote.[2]
    • To decorate a custom frame, use hot glue to attach rhinestones, seashells, or buttons to the frame you already have.
  3. Place a stencil on your car and spray paint it to make custom designs. If you'd like to add crisp graphics, such as numbers, logos, or words, create a stencil on firm paper. Then use magnets to temporarily attach it to your car and spray paint over it in your choice of colors. You can use water-based paint, which is environmentally-friendly, or acrylic paint, which dries fast. Take off the stencil and let your custom graphic dry.[3]
    • For a more professional look, consider buying a detailed stencil. Popular stencils for cars include flames, skulls, wings, and flags.
    • To make your own stencil, cut shapes, such as flames, out of firm paper and place the paper on the doors of your car. Then, spray paint yellow and orange over the stencil to make the flames.
  4. Ask a mechanic to install neon lighting under the car. To create a cool glowing effect, buy neon rods that you can get installed under the car's chassis. The lights usually cost $50 to $100 and installation costs around $100. It's important to check your state's laws to learn if any colors are prohibited. For example, many states prohibit blue, red, and green neon.[4]
    • Although you may be able to install the neon yourself, it's a good idea to get it professionally done since you'll need to disconnect the car battery. The mechanic will also ensure that the lighting follows state laws.
  5. Get a custom paint job to change the color of the car. To dramatically change the look of your car, take it to a paint shop and have a professional paint your car in a new color. Although costs vary depending on where you take your car, a paint job can cost between $300 and $1,000.
    • The shop may charge more if you'd like additional custom designs, such as racing strips.
  6. Buy a custom tire cover or paint the one you already have. Instead of driving around with a standard black tire cover, purchase a decorative one. Popular tire cover designs include landscapes, flags, band emblems, and animals. If you can't find a cover you like, use acrylic paint to paint the tire cover you already have.
    • If you like to travel, consider buying a tire cover that has a map on it. Then you can attach decals or paint over places where you've been.

Applying Stickers and Decals

  1. Put decals on the body or windows of the car to make your car stand out. If you're putting several decals on your car, think about if you want them to follow a theme or if they should be unique. For example, if you're putting the logo for your music business on the side of the car, place musical notes on the back window.[5]
    • If you're putting a large decal or several decals that fit together on your car, take measurements to ensure the image will fit.
  2. Clean the area where you're applying the decal and let it dry. Once you've determined where to put the decal, wash the car with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Dry the car completely with a soft cloth. Starting with a clean car will help the decal stick and prevent the corners from peeling away.[6]
  3. Peel back about a third of the backing and place the decal on the car. If you're applying a small decal, peel away all of the backing. Then, put your decal where you'd like it to be on the car. To prevent it from slipping as you work, secure a side of it with automotive tape.
    • If you're applying a very large decal, such as one that goes across the length of your car, ask a friend to help while you work.
  4. Press the decal firmly onto the car and remove the backing. Keep the decal smooth and rub a credit card over it to remove trapped air bubbles. Once the decal is in place, carefully peel away and discard the backing.[7]
    • Remove the backing slowly so it doesn't pull the decal itself.
  5. Peel away the transfer tape to reveal the decal. Grab a corner of the decal's transfer tape and gently start pulling it back. Pull away from you instead of up towards you to prevent the decal itself from pulling up. Remove all of the transfer tape and enjoy your car's new decal![8]
    • If you do notice a few tiny air bubbles trapped under the decal, don't worry. They'll go away on their own after about a month.

Decorating Your Car for a Special Occasion

  1. Write on the car windows with window chalk. Purchase window chalk online or from a craft supply store and ensure that your car windows are clean. Use the window chalk to write phrases or pictures on the windows, but not on the body of the car.[9]
    • Window chalk is a great way to decorate for a team car, a wedding getaway car, or for someone's special birthday. For example, draw arrows to the driver's window and write, "Over the Hill."
  2. Stick a bow on a car that you're giving to someone. If you're surprising a loved one with a car, you'll want them immediately realize that it's a gift. Buy or Make a Bow an extra-large bow and attach it to the top or hood of the car using automotive masking tape.[10]
    • Avoid using standard tape, rubber cement, or glue to put the bow on the car because these can damage the paint.
  3. Wrap ribbons around a Decorate a Wedding Car with Ribbon. Tie two long pieces of ribbon to the front grille of the car and pull one ribbon up towards a side view mirror. Wrap the ribbon around the mirror and repeat this with the other ribbon to make a V-shape on the hood of the car. You can also attach a bow to the trunk of the car using automotive tape.[11]
    • To match the design of the wedding, use ribbon that's the same as the wedding colors. For example, you might decorate with yellow and navy blue.
  4. Cover your car with spiderwebs to Decorate a Car for Halloween. Get your ghosts and goblins excited about driving around to trick-or-treat by draping spiderwebs across the exterior of your car.
    • Keep the windows clear so you can easily drive. If you're not planning on driving, consider popping open the trunk and placing scary Halloween props inside, such as skeletons or coffins.
  5. Add tinsel or a wreath to decorate your car for winter. If you'd like your car to reflect your festive mood, attach a small battery-lit wreath to the grille of your car. Then, string tinsel garland around the roof of your car using automotive tape.[12]
    • Ensure that the wreath doesn't hide your license plate and that the tinsel garland doesn't block your vision while you drive.


  • Remove most holiday or special event decorations soon after the event. This will prevent your car's paint from becoming damaged.