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Extend The Life Of Your Vehicle Wraps

22Jul 2016

Full or partial vehicle wraps are an investment that can expose 70,000 people to your brand or company in the course of a single day. We offer tips for what to do and what not to do to ensure your vehicle wraps are a marketing investment that lasts for years to come.

Marking your delivery or “on the road” vehicles with custom vehicle graphics – your logo, your message is the BEST advertising choice for marketing effectiveness and return on investment. Industry data says more than 70,000 people will see your message in the course of a single day. Wow! That being said, here are some recommendations:

Choosing the Right Vehicle Wrap Vendor

Before choosing a vendor to print and install your car, truck, or van wraps, ask these questions:

  • How many vehicle wraps do you install in a month? How many are for repeat customers?
  • What media vendors do you use? – 3M, Avery, etc. Are you using cast or calendared vinyl? (you only want cast vinyls unless it is a short-term project)
  • How many years experience with vehicle wraps do your installers have?
  • Can you provide 2-3 customer references?
  • What is your warranty?
  • What is your proofing process?
  • What is your lead time? How long will you need the vehicle?

These questions help you understand the level of competency the graphics company has with installing wraps, be they partial vehicle wraps or full vehicle wraps. Lots of one-man installers/printers are available. Some are expert; some are not. Make certain you know which you are contracting with.

Caring for Your Vehicle Wraps and Graphics

Now, you have just spent a piece of your marketing budget on some really cool vehicle graphics, right? What can you do to make that expense last as long as possible? Here are some suggestions:

  • Wash your vehicle when it is dirty! Rinse off the dirt and grime when it is noticeable. The easiest way to do this is with a water spray hose (not pressure washing). With a wet, non-abrasive detergent, wipe all surfaces with a clean, soft cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Wiping with a silicone squeegee or clean microfilm cloth will reduce water spotting.
  • Automated car washes are OK for full or partial vinyl wraps, as long as there are not small pieces of vinyl. Brush car washes may cause scratching, lifting, or dulling of the graphics so be sure to use a high-quality automated car wash and inspect the wash when it exits the booth.
  • Pressure washing can be used under certain conditions. If you plan on pressure washing, you should:
    • Keep water pressure under 2000 psi
    • Ensure water temp does not exceed 180 degrees
    • Use a spray nozzle that is no wider than 40 degrees
    • Stand 1 foot away and stay perpendicular to the graphic. Do not spray directly from the side.


  • Got bug splatter, bird droppings, tree sap etc? Soak them for several minutes with hot, soapy water. Rinse completely and wipe dry. Do not scrub with abrasive tools which can scratch the vehicle decals. Wash as above and rinse off residue immediately.
  • If you have a fuel spill, wipe off immediately. Then wash, rinse, and dry as above
  • Avoid these treatments:
    • Abrasive polishes or waxes
    • Wax products on matte or textured laminates
    • If there is wax on the surface, remove with an all-purpose household cleaner


  • Whether summer or winter, it is best to store your vehicle under cover as prolonged sun exposure and pollutants can take their toll on horizontal surfaces like hoods, trunks and roofs. In sunny weather, park in the shade or a garage. At night, dew and rain which contain grit and pollutants can be detrimental. If a garage is not available, consider a cloth cover.

Should you see any degradation of your graphics, call your graphics vendor immediately. If you have taken good care of your vehicle, any reputable printer will want to see the issue, speak with their material vendor and look to remedy the situation. S2 Imaging uses high quality cast films (3M or Avery) because they stand by their products and work with us to find a solution. We have been printing and installing vehicle graphics for 25 years and we stand by our work. Contact S2 Imaging today for a free quote. We would love to chat about ideas for your company vehicles!