Can A Car Wrap Damage Paint?


May 31, 2022

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When you want to change up the look of your car, you might opt for a car wrap. But can a car wrap damage paint? Make sure you understand the facts before you put your vehicle at risk. 

What are car wraps and what should you know before getting one installed? Our auto-wrap experts will share vital tips you’ll need to know to keep your vehicle safe if you’re planning to wrap your car. 

Plus, we’ll cover how to remove a car wrap if you decide later that you want to go back to the original paint job of the vehicle. 

So read on for all things car wrap!

What Are Car Wraps Made Of?

Car wraps are usually made from vinyl. This durable material can last for years without fading or peeling, which is why it’s a popular choice for car wraps. But the car wrap material is far more complicated than simple vinyl or glue. 

Vinyl car wrap is a blend of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymer. The various polymeric materials and additives make it flexible, resistant to ultraviolet light, and add color. These ingredients are blended, cast onto moving sheets, then baked and cured. Thus you can order car wraps in just about any color or with any custom graphic on them to apply to your vehicle. 

However, car wraps are not indestructible. If you’re not careful, the vinyl can be damaged. For example, if you park in a spot where there’s a lot of sun exposure, the car wrap may start to fade.

No, a Car Wrap Won’t Damage Paint

The main question we hear from consumers is “Can a car wrap damage paint?” In general, car wraps are not going to damage paint. The vinyl is applied on top of the paint, so there’s no direct contact between the car wrap and the paint. 

NOTE: There are some exceptions to this, which we’ll discuss later, but overall the process is very safe for your car paint. 

Under normal circumstances, car wraps are unlikely to affect paint at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Vinyl is not marketed as a protective film, but it’s certainly an unexpected benefit of wrapping. Many drivers prefer vehicle wrapping over paint jobs because they’re attractive. 

Maybe they want a quick, inexpensive, and effective way of advertising their business. Wraps are popular and useful for these reasons, but the bonus is that your paint will be protected from any damage with the additional layers of the vinyl, as well.

The Exception: Poor Paint Jobs

However, there are some exceptions. If the paint job on your vehicle is not in good condition, the car wrap may cause further damage. Good condition factory paint (original paint) will hold up fine.

But, for example, if the paint is chipped or peeling, the car wrap may exacerbate the problem. In some cases, it may be necessary to fix the paint before installing a car wrap.

Most cases where car wrapping has damaged paint are largely due to the quality of the paint, not the wrapping material or application. The vinyl car wrap testing process utilizes newly manufactured vehicles as its subjects. Thus, the safety and quality standards are based on wraps applied to brand new paint jobs. 

If your vehicle’s paint surface needs a restoration job, make sure it’s good quality. Otherwise, one issue that occurs is that the paint does not properly bond on the vehicle. And poorly bonded paint means that when the car wrap is removed, the paint may come along with it. 

Do I Need to Fix Paint On My Car Before Getting a Car Wrap?

If the paint job is in good condition, there’s no need to fix it before installing a car wrap. However, if the paint on your vehicle is damaged, it’s best to get it fixed first. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the car wrap or the paint further. 

For the best car wrap appearance, the vinyl should adhere to a clean and uniform vehicle surface. That’s why professional vehicle wrappers spend time detailing the exterior first, to produce excellent results. The preparation can include decontamination washing the cars. This removes wax, grease, and contaminants on the surface.

Potential Problems With Car Wraps

If there’s a chip in your car’s paint, the vinyl won’t adhere is tightly and it may bubble up. Or worst case, if the paint is actively chipping, the vinyl could pull up additional paint as it’s removed. 

If you have just a small dent or chip, you can seal the area before installing the vehicle wrap, and that should hold fine. For more extensive damage, you may need to have your car painted or repaired first. 

How is a Car Wrap Applied?

Some people believe wrapping a vehicle covers any paint splatters and scratches and makes it appear shiny and fresher. This is a big mistake! To apply a vinyl wrap to a car, its surface should be smooth. Vinyl cannot hold properly if the material beneath has bubbles and cracks. 

The pre-wrap cleaning process is the most important way to prevent premature removal of the wrap. 

When you have your wrap job handled by a professional team, they will clean and prep your car for the car wrap installation, then expertly apply the vinyl wrap. The entire process usually takes about two to three hours.

If you want to try your hand at DIY wrapping your car, you certainly can. Just keep in mind that without the proper tools and support your wrap may not look as perfect as it would if you bring it to a pro. 

How to Remove A Car Wrap

If you decide later that you want to remove the car wrapping, it’s not a difficult process. You can either take it to a professional or do it yourself. 

Keep in mind that a professional will have access to all the tools, and possibly have the assistance of more than one person to ensure the job -and the vinyl- comes off smoothly! 

If your vinyl wrap is in good condition, it can be easy enough to remove at home. However, if the vinyl wrap is damaged, peeling, or drying out, a professional may be better equipped to remove it without damaging your paint underneath. 

To remove a car wrap, start by heating the vinyl with a heat gun or hairdryer. This will make the vinyl more pliable and easier to remove. Once the vinyl is heated, slowly peel it off the car. You may want to give your car a good wash afterward to ensure there’s no adhesive left on it. 

Will My Car Paint Be Damaged When I Remove the Vehicle Wrap?

If the car wrap is removed carefully, the paint should not be damaged. However, if you try to remove the car wrap without heating it first, you may damage both the vehicle wrap and the paint. 

To ensure the smoothest removal, it’s best to take your car back to the shop that applied the wrap to have it removed. Your paint underneath should look as fresh as it did the day you had the vinyl wrap applied!

What’s the Best Way to Protect a Car Wrap from Exposure?

If you want to protect your car wrap from exposure, there are a few things you can do. For example, you can park in a garage or carport to protect the car wrap from the sun.

You can also wash the car regularly and wax it with materials made for car wraps to create a barrier between the car wrap and the elements.

Car Wrap Maintenance

To keep your car wrap looking its best, it’s important to take care of it. But exposure isn’t the only thing that can damage your car wrap! While regular washing is great, you should avoid mechanical car washes, as the high-force sprays and brushes can damage the wrap. 

You should also avoid parking your vehicle under trees or wires where birds might dirty up your vinyl. Lastly, avoid driving on dirt or gravel roads, since your wheels can kick up pebbles that can damage the vinyl car wrap. 

When Is Wrapping a Car Recommended?

If you’re not sure whether or not car wrapping is right for you, there are a few things to consider. For example, car wraps are a good choice if you’re looking to change the color of your car without painting it.

They’re also a good option if you want to protect the original paint job. And car wraps can be installed relatively quickly and easily, which is another plus.

Car wraps are great if you want to advertise your business, as printing a vinyl wrap with your logo and information is much easier and less expensive than a custom paint job. 

Additionally, some people do opt to wrap their car to cover damage or chipping. As long as you’re aware that the vinyl might not adhere as smoothly and the removal could cause some additional damage! Car wrapping can still vastly improve the look of a vehicle with some surface damage. 

Is Wrapping A Car Worth It To protect the paint?

Wrapping a car can be worth it to protect the paint if your vehicle or the paint job is new and in pristine condition. Modern car wraps are made from fairly durable materials. Many vehicle owners have found that covering paint can protect it from chips ad scratches they’d see otherwise.

For example, if your vehicle paint is pristine and you use vinyl wraps to keep it that way, you may extend the life of the vehicle or improve its resale value. In that case, the vinyl wraps, even if you reapply them every 5 years or so, might be worth it.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this blog post has answered your questions about car wraps. As you can see, car wraps can be a great way to change up the look of your vehicle or promote your business. But it’s important to do your research before getting one installed. 

Check out our other blogs on all subjects of car wrapping or reach out to our team to find an expert car wrap installer in your area!

Connect with a car wraps expert today!