Car wraps are an excellent investment that can yield great dividends for businesses looking to capture the attention of a broader market.
However in order to get more out of your investment and commercial vehicle branding, you need to learn how to take care of the vehicle wraps.
Here are a few helpful tips that can help you achieve that goal.
Start on the right foot
The last thing that you would want is for the vinyl to lose its adhesion and peel off in just a few weeks.
This is easily prevented through the proper preparation of the surfaces where the wraps are going to be applied.
Before the application process, the surfaces should be cleaned and prepped correctly. Specialists in car wraps usually err on the side of caution and treat each vehicle as dirty and contaminated, even if these rolled into the work area after coming from a car wash. In transit, these vehicles may have collected dust and other contaminants, which can adversely affect the application of wraps.
Here is a brief look at the four methods of cleaning a car prior to the application of wraps.
This method is used for lightly-soiled vehicles. The process entails the use of commercial detergents mixed with water. Take note that detergent solutions with oils, waxes, and lotions should be avoided.
This method is used to remove oils and grease from surfaces. The process entails the use of cloth and solvent.
Light particulate method
This method is used if the vehicle has been already cleaned previously, making it ideal for the removal of dust.
Isopropyl alcohol method
This method is used for the removal of light oils and grease and involves the use of cloth and rubbing alcohol.
Sometimes, the installer will use a combination of these methods.
After the surfaces have been cleaned, these should be allowed to dry completely to prevent moisture from getting trapped between the surfaces and the graphics.
Cleaning and maintenance
According to the experts, you should treat your vehicles with commercial branding wraps like you would treat any other car with an ordinary finish.
The best way to clean a car with wraps is the manual method. There are no set guidelines concerning the frequency of cleaning. As a rule of thumb, you should clean the car when it already looks dirty. This will prevent dirt and other contaminants from getting trapped between the graphics, making it harder to remove these.
Start by rinsing as much dirt and debris from the graphics using water. To clean the vehicle, you may use commercial detergents, preferably the non-abrasive kind, and a sponge or cloth.
After applying detergent on the different areas of the car, rinse this off with water. Prevent water spots by using a silicone squeegee to remove excess water. After that, use a microfiber cloth to facilitate drying.
The frequent use of car brushes found in car washes can lead to the scratching or even lifting of the graphics. If you must have your vehicle cleaned at a car wash, choose an automated car wash that uses touchless cleaning.
Pressure washing is not recommended for vehicles with wraps as there is the possibility of the graphic being lifted, especially if the nozzle of the pressure washer is used at the wrong angle.
You can use a pressure washer on your car, but certain conditions must be met. First, the pressure should be below 2000 psi, and the water temperature should be kept below 180 degrees. The nozzle should be held at a 40-degree angle using a wide-angle pattern and maintained at least 300 mm away from the graphic.
Tough stains and fuel spills
While cruising around the districts and neighborhoods you are targeting for your campaign, and it is inevitable for the vehicle wraps to accumulate dirt and other contaminants.
For tougher contaminants like bird droppings, tree saps, and bug splatter, it is highly recommended to soften these up first before washing the graphic.
To soften up these difficult contaminants, all you have to do is to soak the affected areas with hot, soapy water for a few minutes. After that, rinse the affected area and then dry.
If you still can’t remove the contaminant, you may use products like isopropyl alcohol, bug and tar removers, or denatured alcohol. However, you should try these products first in an inconspicuous area on the car.
As much as possible, avoid scrubbing or using abrasive tools in removing difficult contaminants. These can only lead to unsightly scratches on the graphic.
For fuel spills, make sure that you act quickly to prevent destroying the graphic and its adhesive. Start by wiping the affected area and then wash as you would typically do.
Storing the vehicle
If the vehicle is not going to be used, it is highly recommended to park it inside an indoor environment. However, if this is not possible, the next best thing that you can do is to park it in a shaded area.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can degrade the graphic, especially in areas like the trunk, hood, and roof. Apart from that, moisture from rain and dew may also deteriorate the graphic due to the pollutants that they may contain. This is particularly true in urban areas where there are reported high levels of acidic pollutants.
If there are no indoor or shaded parking areas available, your last resort would be to purchase and use a car cloth cover.
If you notice discoloration on the graphic, you should have it removed. Otherwise, there is a risk of damaging the original paint of the vehicle.
Protecting your investment
Like any other tool or equipment on your company’s premises, car wraps can remain useful as long as you know how to maintain and clean these properly. Follow these tips carefully, and you will gain more returns from your initial investment. And if you are unsure whether a product is safe to use for the graphic, consult the professionals who installed it.
Brian Dwyer is the Director and owner of Colour Source Signwriters, a graphic production business specializing in various vehicle wraps, fleet signs and building signs. The company has been producing professional signage that captures the attention and matches the vision of delighted clients all over Australia since 1990.