Does a vehicle have a personality? Not exactly. But with a car wrap, an owner’s personality shines through. The personalization possibilities are endless. Customized car wraps are especially effective for business branding – it’s advertising mobilized.

Wrapping is a substantial investment. Just doing one part of a vehicle costs under $1000, but a full wrap can cost up to $4000. (Check out our vehicle wrap pricing guide for more info.) 

How long do car wraps last? Does this makeover stick forever? Car wraps aren’t meant to last forever. But with proper care and maintenance, it drives a branding statement for some years.

What is a Car Wrap?

A car wrap is one or several custom-fit decals made to fit the dimensions of the vehicle. Hand-picked colors, dazzling metallic effects, or graphic designs transform its appearance.

A vehicle wrap isn’t peel-and-stick like a bumper sticker. The vinyl wrap bonds to the auto body surface with heat treatments one piece at a time.

It stays put because of the strong seal and bond, but it’s not permanent. It is professionally removed when the time comes.

How Long Does Vinyl Wrap Last on a Car?

So the picture-perfect finish doesn’t last forever, but just how long does a car wrap last?

A vehicle owner can expect a quality car wrap to last between 5 and 7 years. 

Vinyl wrap durability begins with proper installation from professionals (like Accurate Signs). The stronger the bond is between the wrap and the auto body, the longer it lasts. 

Even the best car wrap jobs lose luster from lack of maintenance, accidental abuse, and exposure to the elements.

How To Make a Car Wrap Last

How long car wraps last on a car depends on the quality of installation and maintenance thereafter. Here are some tips to make the most of this investment and avoid car wrap problems.

  • Vehicle quality: A work of car wrap art starts with a quality canvas. Chipped paint, rust, or other flaws cause bumps in the wrap and compromises its integrity.
  • Abrasion prevention: The goal is to avoid anything that may weaken, scuff, or cut into the wrap. Here are four things you can do to prevent abrasion.
    • Avoid automatic car washes: Handwashing is best.
      • Brushes will scratch the material, hurt the finish, and cause further damage to any flawed areas.
    • Know the risks of pressure washing: Pressure washing is not recommended. If you need to pressure wash, follow these suggestions.
      • Don’t spray damaged wraps or wrap seams.
      • Don’t use Turbo pressure nozzles.
      • Water pressure should not exceed 800 psi.
      • Keep the nozzle at least 12 to 14 inches away from the vehicle.
      • Clean with a sweeping spray motion at a 45° angle.
    • Proper handwashing:
      • Clean your vehicle weekly. 
      • Use a non-abrasive cleaner with a soft rag or sponge. Hard scrubbing and some solvents are damaging. 
      • Remove grime and bugs with a citrus-based degreaser or cleaner. 
      • If you’re unsure about the cleaner you want to use, test it on a less noticeable spot.
      • As a final step, rinse the vehicle completely.
    • Be aware of road hazards:
      • Driving on gravel or unpaved rocky roads causes rock pieces to bounce up and hit the vehicle.
      • Harsh winters mean rock salt on the roads. Salty slush may damage the wrap.
  • Heat avoidance: For the most part, car wraps are designed to withstand the elements. But over time extreme heat exposure shortens its lifespan.
    • When washing the car, ensure that the water temperature is under 180°.
    • Shelter the vehicle when not in use. You get a lot more advertising mileage by parking a branded vehicle by the roadside. Just keep in mind that prolonged exposure to blistering heat accelerates aging.
  • Preserve with wax or polish: Adding a protective layer helps the car wrap last longer. However, wax or polish isn’t appropriate for matte, textured, or specialty wraps.
    • Teflon or silicone-based polishes work well for a protective coat.
    • Don’t use carnauba-based waxes.
  • Let the professionals fix the flaws: If you notice bubbles, blisters, or wrinkles on the laminate, don’t attempt to smooth out the flaws on your own. This could cause further damage. Call Accurate Signs for assistance.

How and When To Remove a Car Wrap

Once all the decals are carefully detached, any remaining sticky wrap residue is eliminated (we use Rapid Remover). However if the auto body paint had issues already, some of it may peel off during the removal process.

Reasons for car wrap removal:

  • Complete replacement due to extensive bubbles, blisters, or wrinkles.
  • Significant wear to the vehicle wrap such as lifting or staining.
  • Design update, rebranding, or marketing strategy changes (new product or service).
  • To prepare the vehicle for sale.

Time and cost of removal depend on the condition of the wrap. A simple removal takes up to four hours and costs between $500 and $600. Decals that are more difficult to uninstall (for example, the wrap is baked in) is around $2000. More time means more labor costs.

Contact Our Professionals for a Car Wrap Today

So how long do car wraps last? Sometimes we’re so pleased about the final outcome of our customer’s vehicle signs we wish they’d last forever. The next best thing is to maximize longevity with our meticulous installation in a secure environment.

For 30 years, Accurate Signs has worked with businesses to make the best impression in the Mesquite, TX and Dallas, TX areas. We team up with local businesses to create the perfect vehicle wraps to drive around town. Contact us at (972) 686-1155 with any questions you have about car wraps!