There have been a few threads over on Priuschat about "debadging" and/or removing the Toyota emblems from a Prius for a slightly cleaner exterior look. Somewhat inspired by one of them, I went to remove the one from my rear hatch which seems to be little more than a dirt-catcher, and more or less made a complete botch of it. But I managed to recover semi-gracefully.
I started with the dental-floss and solvent trick, using something called "super glue remover" which wasn't working at all. But I had some brake cleaner, which I carefully tested on an obscure area of paint inside a doorframe and it didn't seem to hurt anything. However, brake cleaner is pretty strong stuff -- containing a witch's brew of toluene, acetone, xylene, and other fun toxins. What I didn't really realize going in is that the back panel is *plastic*, and apparently some combination of the glue-remover and the brake cleaner attacked *that* and started completely wrinkling the paint around the double-sticky tape under the emblem. I finally got the damn thing off, but the area was a mess, with the white plastic underneath showing through the stripped-off paint and two ragged alignment-pin holes right through the panel. I managed to use more solvent and remove the remaining snot from the adhesive and ball it up; it's stuck to the panel to the left here. But now I had a really sore-thumb cosmetic problem to fix.
I tried lightly smoothing it down and patching things up with my bottle of touch-up paint, making some vaguely symmetric shape. That was a waste, because *it* started krinkling up as it dried and still looked pretty bad. And it's clear by now that the car is no longer the same color as the paint.
Desperation time. Having finally realized that the panel over the license plate lights is a separate plastic piece, I figured I could remove it and work on it in a more controlled way off the car. The inner hatch cover must come off first; it simply attaches with a bazillion of these blue pin-clips that take quite a bit of force to pull loose, but miraculously don't break their own attachment points. There's almost no good way to fish a panel tool into there, either; wiggling and pulling seems to be about the only way.
The door, laid naked. The lavender circle is the [disconnected] hookup for the hatch-release switch outside which is mounted on the now-bollixed panel. The pink circle shows an interesting feature; let's take a closer look...
This is simply a heavy rubber-coated weight, mounted so it can wiggle around on two rubber webs. A vibration damper, to help quiet the door and absorb resonance.
The emblem panel is held on with four 10mm nuts on these long studs...
and after backing the hatch-release wire grommet out of its hole, is easily removed from the car.
Long story short, I sanded down the entire area, including trying to round off the edges of the oval area where the logo used to be, constructed a reasonable-looking masked area with tape, and sprayed a couple of coats of black satin latex. The two emblem guide-pin holes got more or less filled in with a space-filling adhesive, but still shrank in a little as it dried. The panel still looks a little kludgey, but way better than it did after the solvents hit it. It will probably stay this way for the rest of the car's life, since it's a minor cosmetic thing and this '04 already has its share of work-truck roughness going on here and there. Now I'm terrified of going after the one on the hood, but in spite of the inevitable "why don't you just leave well enough alone?" counterarguments I'm still thinking about it. Maybe I'll try Darell's heat trick, although there would still be the problem of filling the alignment holes. And the metal hood is probably not nearly as forgiving as a plastic panel.