You’ve seen them around town, and in increasing numbers too: vinyl-wrapped cars. Some are very easy to spot if the wrap touts a local business, a product or even a political point of view. Other wraps are not as apparent, as they simply change the color of a car without a repaint. A vinyl car wrap isn’t for everyone – it can make your car look worse or do lasting damage if you’re attempting to conceal a problem.
Entering the Wrap Game
So, why wrap a car? Typically, the goal is to change its appearance. That said, you should exercise caution here. Unless the current paint is in top condition, a wrap will usually not disguise the problem. In some cases it will only amplify the flaws you want covered, and it might also make the problem worse once the wrap is pulled off.
Keep These Points in Mind
Vinyl car wrap must have a solid surface to adhere to; otherwise it will not stick. If even a small section of your vehicle has peeling paint, wrapping it will not work. The best approach here is to have your car professionally painted before you proceed with wrapping.
A scratch, chip or any other defect you want to hide will only be magnified once the wrap is in place. Worse, once you remove the vinyl, the paint in the surrounding area may flake off. Go ahead and fix these flaws before you move forward.
Another point to keep in mind is that even the smallest rust area on a car is a problem that no vinyl wrap can, or should, conceal. First, the wrap will trap moisture that’s already present in the wrap. Thus, the rust will only spread. Second, the wrap requires paint — not rust — to properly stick to a car’s surface.
Perhaps you already had your car repainted. The trouble is, it wasn’t done properly. For instance, if previous stains were not correctly masked by a primer, they will bleed through the coat. Other signs of a poor paint job include sags, drips and dried streaks. Paint splatter and dripping are problems that no vinyl car wrap will conceal.
Once you resolve these challenges, you’re ready to wrap your vehicle.
Benefits of the Vinyl Car Wrap
We’ve looked at the challenges of using vinyl wrap, but there are some benefits too.
For instance, vinyl wrap protects the original paint. Wherever vinyl wrap is applied to a car’s surface, the paint underneath is safely covered. This may be especially important if you have an expensive metallic paint on the vehicle or if you have a classic car and want to enhance its value and appearance.
Also, vinyl wrap is easy to clean, although cleaning your car by hand is recommended. A power wash or car wash may be too tough on the wrap, which means hand-washing is best. If you find small holes or tears, you can return to the place that installed the wrap for repairs.
Wrapping it All Up
A vinyl car wrap can enhance your car’s appearance for a lower cost than a fresh paint job. You can leave it on for as long as you like, swap it out for a new wrap or return to your car’s previous color by removing it. Just ensure your car’s exterior is in excellent condition before trying one out.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.