How Long Will Car Wraps Last?


May 31, 2022

How long will car wraps last?
Table Of Contents

We all do mental calculations when making a big purchase. What’s the value? Do I really need it? How long will it be useful? The same goes for a big decision like a car wrap.

Car wraps are affordable, eye-catching, and can last for years if done correctly. But let’s address those questions that go into the mental calculations, shall we?

How long will they actually last? And is it cheaper to get a car wrapped or painted? In this blog post, w did the research and spoke to experts in the business to answer all these questions and more!

What Is A Car Wrap?

A car wrap is a large vinyl graphic or decal that is applied to the exterior of a vehicle. They are most commonly used for advertising purposes, but can also be used for personalization or simply as a form of art.

They are becoming increasingly common and popular for both purposes. And any vehicle can be modified with a car wrap – cars, trucks, vans – even boats!

How Do Wraps Work?

Car wraps are made up of three layers: the graphic itself, an adhesive backing, and a clear laminate layer. The graphic is printed on a special vinyl material that can be stretched and conform to the curves of the vehicle.

The adhesive backing allows the wrap to stick to the car, while the clear laminate protects it from weather and UV damage. Higher-end vinyl materials may have additional layers of protection, as well.

Choosing The Right Car Wrap Materials

Not all types of vinyl are created equal! When choosing a car wrap material, it’s important to pick one that is durable and will last for years. We recommend using a cast vinyl material, which is made specifically for car wraps and can withstand all sorts of weather conditions.

You may see advertisements for “calendered” vinyl, as well. However, this vinyl material can shrink, causing your vehicle wrap to distort or peel off.

There are several well-established and reputable vinyl manufacturers in the U.S. that make quality products. 3M and Avery Dennison are two top brands recommended by professional car wrap installers.

When you start with high-quality vinyl, your vehicle wrap will be easier to maintain and will last that much longer. Avoid cheap knockoffs and replicas!

Installation Matters

Even the best quality vinyl wrap won’t last if it’s not installed correctly. That’s why it’s so important to find a reputable installer who knows what they’re doing. If you’re unsure, ask around for recommendations or read online reviews.

Although you can find plenty of YouTube videos to show you how to DIY the project, if your goal is for your vinyl wrap to last, start with professional installation. The pros have all the materials, tools, and experience to ensure the job is done right the first time.

Potential Risk Factors

Even with high-quality vinyl and professional installation, there are still some factors that can shorten the lifespan of a vehicle wrap. Things like driving in extreme weather conditions, not washing the car regularly, or using harsh chemicals can all damage the vinyl.

The condition of your vehicle pre-wrap can also impact how long the wrap lasts. To address these topics, check out the tips below on how to protect and preserve your vinyl wrap, as well as how to prepare your vehicle for wrapping.

Best Ways To Prolong The Life Of A Car Vinyl Wrap

There are a few things you can do to help extend the life of your car wrap:

-Hand wash your car regularly (every couple of weeks) with mild soap and water and a soft cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive brushes, as these can damage the vinyl.

-Park wrapped vehicles in covered or shaded areas whenever possible. This will help protect the wrap from sun and UV damage.

-Spot treat dirt and grime like tree sap, dugs, or bird poop. Washing these contaminants off right away can prevent discoloration and damage.

-Apply a protective film or wax after washing for extra protection – as long as it’s specifically intended for use on vinyl wrapping.

What To Avoid

There are also a few things you should avoid if you want your vehicle wrap to last:

-Don’t use petroleum-based products on or near the vinyl. This includes things like sunblock, bug spray, and hand sanitizer.

-Don’t apply stickers or decals on top of the wrap. These can be difficult to remove later and may damage the underlying material.

-Avoid power washing (pressure washing) or waxing the car. These can both cause the vinyl to lift or fade. This includes avoiding automatic car washes.

-Don’t overdo it! You don’t need to wash your wrapped vehicle too frequently, as excessive soap and water can wear down the material.

When Should I Replace Vinyl Wraps?

If you take care of your vehicle wrap, it can last for years! However, eventually, it will start to show signs of wear and tear.

If the vinyl is peeling, fading, or cracking from sun exposure, it’s time for a new one. At that point, it’s best to take your car to a professional installer to have them remove the old, damaged wrap.

While you can probably remove the old wrap yourself, a professional will do a better job. If the wrap is deteriorating, it can be difficult to remove it.

A professional will have tools to make this easier. And they will do it without scratching or otherwise damaging the paint underneath.

How Much Do Car Wraps Cost?

Car wraps are an affordable way to advertise your business. Or an affordable way to show your independent style!

Prices vary depending on the size and complexity of the design, but most wraps fall in the range of $2000-$5000. Factors that impact the cost of car wrapping include the size of the vehicle, complexity of installation, and any custom additions such as chrome materials or car features like spoilers, etc.

Is It Cheaper To Get A Car Wrapped Or Painted?

In general, wrapping a car is cheaper than painting it. Wraps usually cost between $2000 and $5000, while a professional paint job can cost upwards of $10000.

From a business perspective, car wraps make a ton of sense financially. If you’re wrapping a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles for your business, the cost to wrap should count as a business expense.

Additionally, because wraps are temporary (after 3-5 years you will need to replace them) it creates a great opportunity to refresh your advertising approach or logo at that time.

Another consideration is if you are leasing a vehicle. In that case, regardless of cost, you don’t have permission to paint the car. However, you can wrap it to have any design you want or to mimic the look of paint in a color you prefer. Once you’re ready to turn in the lease, simply have the wrap removed.

What Car Condition Is Required?

For the best results, it’s important to start with a clean and smooth surface. Any dents, scratches, or other imperfections will show through the vinyl wrap. The car should also be free of any wax or polish, as this can interfere with the adhesive.

When you take your car to a professional vehicle wrap installer, they’ll inspect the car for any damage that could impact how well the vinyl adheres to the car’s surface. If your car has large scratches or peeling paint, be prepared to make some repairs.

The reason you need to start with intact paint is that otherwise the vinyl might not adhere properly and will bubble up. Additionally, when you go to remove the wrap, any paint that’s already peeling might get pulled off during the removal process.

The installer will typically handle washing and detailing the vehicle to prepare it for installation. Confirm with your installer what is included in their cost and process. If they don’t include a car wash, ask for their recommendations before bringing your vehicle in for installation.

Why Should I Wrap My Car?

There are many reasons to wrap your car! Car wraps are an affordable and effective way to advertise your business. They’re also a great way to personalize your ride or make a statement with art.

Wrapped vehicles can be made to look like painted ones, complete with a glossy finish, or you can showcase trendy patterns and designs. They can breathe new life into a vehicle with faded paint or effectively advertise your business.

As we mentioned above, car wraps are also a great way to change the look of a car when you don’t own it. Or even if you own the car but want to retain resale value, a vehicle wrap is a great option.

You can give your vehicle any look you want without compromising the quality of the original paint job. In fact, you’ll be protecting that paint! Cars that have been wrapped look newer longer – extending the life of the vehicle and holding value.

The vinyl car wrap material acts as a barrier against scratches, flying rocks, etc. That means that when you have the wrap removed years later, the original paint job will be in better condition than if it had been driven around exposed for all those years!

Getting Started

If you’re interested in wrapping your car, we recommend finding a reputable installer in your area. Once you’ve found someone you trust, you can work together to choose a design and material that best suits your needs. And utilizing the tips above for proper care, you can give your new vehicle wrap a long life!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions to get started with having your car wrap installed.

Connect with a car wraps expert today!