Tips From the Pros: How to Care for Your Vehicle Graphics & Wraps

Make your Mark Branding Solutions from VMS

Welcome to the Visual Marking Systems' blog where you can learn about how to care for vehicle wraps, what you need to consider when purchasing fleet graphics, choosing the right materials for your OEM equipment decals, or designing custom branded apparel for your sales team.

Union 14@2x
Union 15
Path 81
Path 82

Woman Washing Car This is all about what to do after you bought your vehicle graphics or wrap, got it installed and now, how to keep it looking great! Not every wrap is the same, wraps give your vehicles a new and fresh look without the need for repainting, often at a lesser cost, wraps are not permanent, making it easy for businesses to change their mind.

Care Tips for Vehicle Graphics & Wraps:

Wash Regularly 

Hand washing with non-abrasive detergent and a clean soft sponge or cloth is the preferred way to keep your vehicle wrap clean. Wash whenever the vehicle appears to be dirty and rinse off as much dirt with water as possible, before and after. Be sure to dry immediately after with a soft towel or silicone squeegee to reduce soap spots.  

Avoid Brush-Type Car Washes

Brush-Type car washes are not recommended, as they can cause the film edges to lift or crack. Brush-Type car washes over time may cause a dulling appearance to the finish of the wrap and are not recommended. Brushless car wash systems are acceptable and can be substituted for hand washing although, hand washing is preferred. 

Power washers are not recommended. However, power washers can be used if:

  • Water pressure is kept below 2000 psi
  • Keep water temperature below 80*C (180*F)
  • Use a spray nozzle with at least 40 degree wide angle spray pattern
  • Keep nozzle at least 1 foot away from and perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the graphic.

Important! Holding the nozzle of a pressure washer at an angle to the graphic may lift the edges of the film.

Vehicle Storage  

Just like paint, vehicle graphics are degraded over time by prolonged exposure to sun and ultra-violet rays and other weather conditions. The surfaces that are most vulnerable are the horizontal surfaces such as the hood, trunk, and roof. If a garage is not an option, park under shaded areas, such as a tree, or a car port. At night, protect the vehicle from rain and other weather, such as snow, and hail. In many metropolitan areas, rain will contain some acids, that over time, may cause the film to discolor or turn brownish, (caused by acidic pollution). If this occurs, replacing the wrap may be required to prevent ghosting around the areas of the vehicle where the film does not cover the paint.

Dirt, Bugs, Gasoline

Bugs, bird droppings, gasoline fuel, tree sap, road tar, paint and other similar contaminants can be difficult to remove and sometimes will require a more detailed approach to removing these types residues. We recommend soaking them for a few minutes with very warm hot, soapy water with a soft cloth to soften up the droppings or sap. After loosing contaminants, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

If further cleaning is required, there are other products that can be used. We recommend testing each of these in an area of the wrap that no one sees to ensure no damage to the wrap or film is visible. Citrus based cleaners, or Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) mixed with water can   be used to spot clean the grime as needed.

Important! DO NOT USE A ROUGH SCRUBBING OR ABRASIVE TOOLS. These will scratch the film and will require replacement. Wash and rinse off all residue immediately. If your wrap has a specialty finish (metallic, matte, carbon fiber, etc.) be sure to ask what should be used for difficult grime before trying one of these products.

Factors that Affect Graphic Performance Life

The actual performance of a graphic is affected by:

  • the selection, condition and preparation of a substrate
  • surface texture
  • application methods
  • angle and direction of sun exposure
  • environmental conditions 
  • cleaning and maintenance methods

Use care and avoid scratching the film. Never scrub the film. Avoid harsh chemicals, and brushes when cleaning, avoid parking near shrubs, trees and any items that could scratch the surface of the films. Use a cleaner designed for high-quality painted surfaces. When it is time, removal sometimes requires heat and/or chemicals. Contact VMS for removal services or other additional information

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Topic(s): Vehicle Wraps

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