See how you do a DIY Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Makeover (for boys or girls) with simple cleaning, stickers, and spray paint! No priming or sanding required.
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For the longest time, I had been meaning to give our Little Tikes Cozy Coupe new life. It was my daughter's toy when she was a toddler, and when she grew out of it, my son started using it (and absolutely loved it).
It had seen better days though - it was incredibly faded and kind of gross from being outside in the elements for years. I've heard of doing makeovers on these cars before, so I thought I'd give it a try!
Now, let me get this out there - would it be much easier to go out and buy a new one? Definitely. But this ended up being a fun DIY project with the kids that only cost us $10-15. More importantly, it gave new life to something that was probably destined for the trash pile. I call that a win!
Here's how we did it.
- ratcheting screwdriver
- pressure washer or high-powered hose nozzle
- Goo Gone
- scrub sponges
- Rust-Oleum 2x Ultra Cover Spray Paint (I used the colors granite & oasis blue)
- 1" masking or painter's tape
- cloth drop cloth (not plastic) or cardboard
- cheap sponge brushes
- several plastic grocery bags
- paper towels
- E6000 glue
- custom replacement decals
Step 1: Take the car apart.
This step is actually much easier than you would think! There are only a few screws that hold the whole thing together.
(Just for car model clarification, I'm using a 30th anniversary style Cozy Coupe for this post.)
There are four screws in the back of the car that need to be removed. They are located on the left and right sides of the cup holders in the back and right below the roof in the back. If the screws are anything like ours were, they're going to be a little rusty and difficult to get out. A ratcheting screwdriver helps a lot with this step!
Once the screws are out, the roof should pop off pretty easily.
Next, carefully take the four posts that hold up the roof out of the main body of the car. I say carefully because you are going to be totally grossed out by what you find inside the bottom of the posts.
I also popped off the rear and front headlight pieces (very carefully) with a flat-head screwdriver. Make sure you don't tear the post that holds those in or you'll have to glue them back on when reassembling. It's easy to tear them.
Finally, take off the cap to the gas tank and unscrew the lock on the door. Make sure to set the five screws aside for reassembly!
Summary: Unscrew the 4 screws on the side of the cup holder and the roof to remove the roof and posts. Pop off the rear headlights with a flat-head screwdriver, then take the gas cap and the lock on the door off.
Step 2: Clean the car.
Honestly? This is gross.
Years worth of gunk was inside those posts. If you have a pressure washer, this is the time to use it! If not, you can use the jet function on your hose to blast some of that gunk out.
Little helpers can also get in on this step! One note: you're not going to get all of the stains out if this is an older car. That's ok - just make sure the actual dirt and grime come off so it doesn't interfere with painting.
You'll also need to remove the leftover decals before painting. I used Goo Gone and heavy-duty scrub sponges (that weren't damaging to the plastic) to get most of it off. If you're putting new decals on, it's not a huge deal if you don't get every little bit off. You just want to make sure that the new decal sits flat on the plastic.
Love a good DIY? Check out how to redo a flower bed - it's not as hard as you think!
Step 3: Tape off wheels & details.
I decided to paint the wheel caps to match the car, so next, I went around and taped these off/painted them before I painted the rest of the car.
What Paint to Use on a Cozy Coupe
I used Rust-Oleum 2x Ultra Cover Spray Paint (in colors granite & oasis blue) to paint everything for this project. The great thing about this paint is that it adheres to plastic with no sanding or primer, so it was super easy!
Quickly spray off the caps and allow them to dry for at least a couple of hours before you go on to Step 5. I'd recommend completing Step 4 while these are drying.
If you want to paint the key that's attached to one of the front roof posts, tape that off and paint at this point too.
Step 4: Paint the roof and lights.
I gave the top and bottom of the roof, the taillights, the removable floor, and the back 2 roof supports two thin coats of granite-colored spray paint. I also painted the key in the front roof support. However, I didn't paint all of the 2 front roof supports or the front headlights; they were already white and coordinated with the colors I wanted for this project.
Make sure to hold your can about a foot from the plastic and spray even, thin strokes. You'll need to allow each coat to dry for 30 minutes to an hour before adding another.
Tip: I used a plastic drop cloth under my car pieces, but I'd recommend an actual cloth or even cardboard if you have it. The paint you're using adheres to plastic, so obviously it's going to adhere the plastic pieces to the drop cloth if you're not careful. That did cause a couple of marks in my paint.
I like to keep a cheap sponge brush handy while using spray paint; it's an easy way to smooth out thicker drips of paint before they dry.
Step 5: Bag off wheels & eyes; paint the body.
The wheels on a cozy coupe are difficult to remove, so I just left them on and bagged them off with plastic shopping bags and masking tape. Just tie them as tight as possible and use the masking tape to cover the metal wheel supports that attach to the car.
I also used this bag method for the eyes and steering wheel. You'll need to carefully mask around the edges for this. Now, you're ready to paint the main body of the car!
(A lot of these photos were taken by my 5-year-old...isn't she a good photographer?! 😀)
Spray paint as much of the top as you can, let the first coat dry for an hour or so, apply a second coat, & dry again. Remember, thin, quick strokes work best!
Then, flip it over and give the bottom of the car two coats!
I allowed the cozy coupe to to dry overnight before reassembling it.
Step 6: Touch up & remove unwanted paint.
Once the main spray painting was done, I went around and touched up little spots that hadn't been painted. This was mostly around the steering wheel and eyes. Just carefully tape those and use tiny sprays of paint to fill in the gaps.
I also used paper towels and Q-tips soaked in acetone to remove any unwanted paint. Be careful with this though - it's easy to remove wanted paint too! 😜
Step 7: Reassemble the cozy coupe.
Once everything is painted, reassembly is pretty straightforward. The roof is kind of tricky, but this video helped me figure it out.
Make sure you remember to pop the lights back on the front and back. I mentioned that one broke when I was taking it off - I just glued it back on with E6000 glue.
Step 8: Add new decals to the custom cozy coupe.
(You can see the minor little bit of wear the paint had shortly after the makeover - mostly on the horn and areas that get a lot of friction. Nothing huge, especially for a kids' toy.)
The Etsy shop even had brown eye decals to update the eyes for a certain brown-eyed little boy!
I am so incredibly pleased with how this turned out! With a little bit of spray paint, a few stickers, and some patience, you can give new life to an old toy.
Six Years Later - How Did It Hold Up?
We completed this project about 6 years ago now - and the paint has really stood the test of time. There are some dings here and there, but everything overall has held up wonderfully (especially for a child's toy).
Coincidentally, we have it on our to-do list to clean out our garage this weekend as I'm updating this post. My husband and I were talking about what to keep and what to trash, and even though our kids have outgrown this one, this is actually one of the ones we want to save. ❤️ It's near and dear to our hearts now!
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Makeover FAQs
I hope this helps you with your Little Tikes cozy coupe makeover! If you share your cute new cozy coupe pictures on social media, let me know by tagging me @lambertslately.