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Let’s Talk Shop: Wraps Maintenance Tips

Providing the customer with detailed information on how to take care of their wrap is an important part of any job.

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I’ve talked about wrap maintenance a few times over the years and it’s always an important topic to discuss. Since a majority of the care will fall on the customer, it’s crucial to give them something that will reinforce your instructions on properly maintaining their vehicle.

We have a Vehicle Wraps Maintenance sheet that we hand out to our customers once we finish up their wrap. It’s a great way to give them information about the care they need to take with their newly wrapped vehicle, and to send them home with a reminder.

Customize Your Handout

Customize your handout by adding warranty information, or tips that are specific to your region as well. If you deal with snow, ice, freezing temperatures, high altitudes or extreme heat you may want to add some additional tips for your customer. Check manufacturer product bulletins for materials you can use to glean specific information for your region and products.

Common Sense Tips

Wiping down the vehicle after exposure to road grime, rotating the vehicle for even exposure to the sun and to minimize the effects of UV damage as well as adding a protective clear bra for areas more susceptible to rock chips were some of the tips we discussed.

Most of what is going to make the wrap last long term is what you do during the wrap process. This includes good material selection, proper vehicle preparation and experienced installation with quality trim work. However, after you’ve done your job, the customer has to take care of their investment.

Keeping the vehicle clean is the No. 1 thing the customer can do right. Removing dirt build up and road grime will keep the protective laminate from getting stained and dull. The maintenance tips on our sheet all deal with the proper way to keep the wrap clean. Anything else, which will typically be bubbles or lifting edges, should be brought back into your shop for professional maintenance.

Wraps Maintenance Sheet

So here is what we include on our Wraps Maintenance sheet. I set it up as a sort of FAQ. Again, it mostly covers cleaning, but environmental concerns could be included on your sheet.

Q: Can I Take My Wrap Through The Car Wash?

A: Your vehicle is an investment and to protect that investment long-term hand washing is recommended at least every two weeks. Here’s a few tips for making sure that your hand washing protects the vehicle wrap as well:

-Use a non-abrasive cleaner without strong solvents.

-Use plenty of water and wash the vehicle from the top down.

-Avoid brushes-both automatic and hand brushes-as they can cause scratches and dull the finish of the protective laminate. Brushes can also lift loose edges.

-Use a soft sponge or rag and avoid excessive scrubbing.

-Take extra care on matte or textured finishes.

-Rinse any residue thoroughly with clean water.

-Air dry or dry with a microfiber cloth.

Q: Can I Pressure Wash My Vehicle?

A: Especially in situations with a fleet of vehicles, pressure washing might be the most efficient method to keep vehicles clean. While it’s advised to avoid pressure washing a wrapped vehicle, if you can’t avoid it then be sure to follow these tips:

-Avoid excessive pressure which can damage the graphics. (Max. water pressure should be 800 psi to 2000 psi).

-Keep the water temperature at a maximum of 72 to 180 degrees.

-Do not spray damaged graphics as the water can get under the graphic, causing lifting and curling.

-Keep the nozzle at least 12 to 18 inches away from the graphics.

-Do not direct the spray at a sharp angle to the graphics. (Spray angle: 45 degrees)

-Avoid spraying directly on wrap seams.

-Trim back all lifted edges and seal with an edge sealer or replace sections of graphics if necessary.

-Never use a Turbo pressure nozzle.

Q: Can I Wax My Vehicle?

A: Vehicle wraps have a protective overlaminate that already enhances the finish of the graphics while providing protection against abrasion and UV damage so an extra polish is not required, but the right polish may help enhance the graphics over time. Here are some tips on what to avoid.

-Avoid Carnauba-based waxes, which require rigorous buffing to bring out a high shine. This buffing can damage the graphics.

-Carnauba-based waxes are also heat sensitive and can melt in the sun creating a greasy mess that attracts dirt and can cause black streaks.

-The heat also releases the stain in the wax which can in turn stain the graphics.

-Teflon or silicone-based polishes are fine but should be specifically designed for use on vehicle wraps.

-Scratches are more obvious and harder to repair on matte and textured finishes and waxes or polishes should be avoid all together.

Q: What Other Tips Will Help Protect My Wrap?

A: There are some simple on-going maintenance tips that will help your wrap last. If you should see any bubbles or lifting graphics be sure to bring the vehicle back in for a professional repair.

-Remove any residue or gunk build-up as soon as possible to avoid damage or staining.

-Test any cleaners you use in an inconspicuous place first.

-Gas spill-wash off residue with soapy water ASAP.

-Oil, tar or asphalt build-up-wipe down with isopropyl alcohol and a citrus-based cleaner.

-Follow any chemical cleanings with a regular washing with water and a mild cleanser.

-To protect against UV damage try to park your wrapped vehicle in the shade, in a garage or under some kind of cover as much as possible.

-For boat wraps, clean the boat with fresh water after each use.

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Charity Jackson

Charity Jackson is owner of Visual Horizons Custom signs, a full-service commercial sign company based in Modesto, Calif.  She has been in business since 1995 and specializes in vehicle wraps, design and project management and workflow. You can visit her Web site at www.vhsigns.com.

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