Vehicle wraps are a relatively durable medium for advertising your business. Unfortunately, just like anything else they do come with a built-in expiration date. The good news is that a professionally installed trailer wrap can last five years or longer. Whether you will reach or exceed that five-year mark depends on several factors, such as proper care and maintenance — as well as not trying to fix bubbles or other wrap issues on your own.
This blog will serve as an unofficial owner’s manual for your wrap. We’ll go over the best ways to care for a wrapped truck, car, or van to help ensure that you — and your vehicle graphic — are living your best life. To make things as simple as possible, we’ll break down our tips in easy-to-read bullet points.
How Long a Vehicle Wrap can Last?
This is probably the most popular question we get about vehicle wraps from clients and inquirers alike. Like most general questions you get with no other background info to go on, the best answer is:
What Factors can Increase or Decrease Your Vehicle Wrap’s Life?
What we can do is go over conditions that over time will subtract from (or possibly even add to) that golden standard of a five-year-long life span. They include:
- Time Spent on the Road
The longer amount of time your vehicle spends outdoors — especially in full sunlight and extreme heat — the shorter its service life will be. It’s as simple as that. The good news is that you can do things to mitigate these conditions which over time may extend the use of your wrap by years.
- Time Spent in the Shade
Simply parking in the shade can make a huge difference in preventing the vinyl film fading from UV sunlight and keeping your wrap looking great. If you add in a little tender loving care by way of off-street parking, you have a wrap that may last up to seven years.
- Time Spent in the Garage
As we just stated, if you can keep your wrapped truck off the street while not in use you will not only help protect it from mother nature and father time but from human damage as well. If you do business in a crowded suburban or urban area, traffic accidents and vandalism can both pose a real risk whenever your vehicle is out and about.
- Time Spent at Wash
The cleaner you keep your wrap, the less likely it is that air pollution, petrochemicals — or more natural hazards such as tree sap and bird droppings — will stain and ruin the beautiful finish of your vehicle graphic. We’ll include more about proper cleaning in a separate section below.
Wear and Care
Washing is one of the best ways to preserve your valuable vehicle wrap. On the other hand, improper cleaning with harsh solvents and rough brushes can wear away at the vinyl film your wrap is made of —while waxing or polishing can cloud and distort your graphic design.
Here are some general tips from truck wrap experts on how to keep your wrap clear of dirt, debris and harmful substance without damaging it:
- Use a non-abrasive cleaner, preferably one specifically formulated for wrapped exteriors such as 3M Car Wash Soap 39000 or Meguiar’s NXT Generation Car Wash.
- Use a soft cloth rag or sponge for wiping and a microfiber cloth for drying.
- Avoid hard hand scrubbing when trying to get rid of stubborn stains.
- Use warm, soapy water, certain kinds of citrus-based degreasers specially made for car wraps or diluted isopropyl rubbing alcohol — rather than harsh solvents, to spot clean and remove stubborn stains. Always test any type of cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t fade or otherwise damage the vinyl film.
- If it’s more convenient to clean your wrapped vehicle commercially, stick to brushless car washes that won’t scratch your wrap or loosen the adhesive underneath.
- Avoid pressure washers. If you do need to pressure wash off a stubborn, sticky substance such as gum, tar or bird droppings keep it set between 800 and 2,000 psi — and hold it at least 12 inches away from your ride.
- Avoid waxes and polishes — especially on matte, textured and other types of other specialty wraps.
- Some types of wraps can be polished. Make sure to check with the installer if this is the case with yours. If so, be sure to only use a Teflon or silicone-based wax, never one which lists carnauba — a type of palm tree resin — as an ingredient.
Repairing Your Wrap
It cannot be stated enough that you should never attempt to repair your wrap yourself. You will almost always cause more damage. This includes the presence of small bubbles, which can sometimes occur after exposure to extremely high temperatures.
Never, ever try to flatten these on your own. Instead, bring your wrap back to the shop that installed it. They will know how to press these bubbles back down without making the problem worse.
- Leave the Repairs to the Pros
If your wrap does bubble or tear without any obvious cause, it may be due to an improper installation. Depending on the exact circumstance and age of the graphic, your installation shop would most likely repair or reinstall your wrap — usually either for free or a reduced price — according to their own contract and warranty guidelines.
Ask About Warranties and Additional Coverage Plans
Most reputable shops will guarantee their work for a certain period, usually a year or more depending on the specific type of wrap. Most problems that arise during this time that aren’t the result of carelessness, natural disasters or various human mishaps will be covered under this form of basic warranty.
For an additional fee, many installers will also offer some type of insurance or maintenance plan that will also extend to other types of damage that can occur during your graphic’s service life. Since a vehicle wrap is normally a sizable investment, some type of added coverage — especially for one that sees heavy use — can be a wise decision that you won’t regret.
Knowing When to Replace Your Wrap
Just as all good things come to an end, even the most durable wrap will one day succumb to accumulated wear from years of use. Since your wrap represents the face of your brand to the public, it’s a good idea to take it off the road once it begins to fade, tear or otherwise begin to look unsightly.
Signs that indicate it’s time to remove and replace your graphic include:
- The presence of large bubbles, lifting along the edges or permanent stains.
- Your business’s advertising needs change (e.g., you want to promote a new logo, graphic design brand name, product or service)
- You’re planning on selling or replacing your vehicle.
A Clean Slate
Whether or not you were seeking to change your business model or graphic, it’s a good idea to look at an unexpected wrap replacement as an opportunity. You can now update your logo, overall design or even your work vehicle. It’s always nice to start with a clean slate. It will give you a chance to consult with your wrap company and collaborate on a new, improved wrap that will help you stick out for the right reasons.
To learn more about the ins and outs of wrap care and maintenance get in touch with Pixel Wraps by calling 718 648 6500, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by requesting a free quote on a new vehicle wrap to promote your business.