Home » How Long Does Vinyl Wrap Last? (8 Tips to Longer)

How Long Does Vinyl Wrap Last? (8 Tips to Longer)

Before getting a new cover for your car, you’re probably wondering how long does vinyl wrap last. This is a great alternative to paint job while also giving you much more room to experiment.

The great thing about covers is that they’re cheaper than a custom paint. A proficient crew can put it in a day or two and, if you’re good with tools, you can also try to place vinyl wrap yourself. Remember that you don’t have to make a statement with a wrap; you can even go with a simpler pattern.

How long will a wrap last?

It is really hard to give a good estimate of how long will a vinyl wrap last. Numerous factors determine its longevity, including climate, sun exposure, the number of washings, etc. Of course, if you’re driving the car every day, the wrap will have a significantly shorter life span.

If you are driving the car almost every day, the wrap might last two years or so. Otherwise, vinyl car wraps have a life expectancy of around five years. Even small things, such as keeping the car in the shade, might increase its duration by a year or two. In the best case scenario, the wrap can last up to 7 years (however, these are very rare cases).

The installation procedure is another thing that can affect the wrap’s longevity. Small mistakes during installation will lead to cover peeling. Also, dirt might start appearing under the wrap. This is why it is much better to hire professionals than to do it yourself.

Here are the main factors that impact the duration of a vinyl car wrap:

  • Strong exposure to the sunlight will quickly bleach the color of the cover. It will also increase the chance of tearing.
  • Washing and excess humidity can cause all sorts of issues. In addition, strong chemical products will quickly destroy vinyl. Ideally, you should clean the car by only using a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaner.
  • Water pressure can tear the material apart. Everything above 800 psi to 2,000 psi can cause damage. Also, while spraying, make sure that you’re 12 to 14 inches away from the car.
  • You also need to be careful when removing a worn-out vinyl cover. Car owners often damage the pain by forcefully removing the material. Like with installation, it is much better than this is done by an expert crew.

How to extend the life expectancy of a car vinyl wrap?

How to extend the life expectancy of a car vinyl wrap

Having a garage will make a huge difference. However, you can also prolong the cover’s duration by properly cleaning the car and not driving during harsh weather conditions.

Simply put, car wraps are not ideal for regions with extreme weather. This is especially true for areas that are getting a lot of snow or rain. But even strong sun can pose a problem.

If your car is exposed to these extremes, small bubbles might start appearing within the wrap. In most cases, this will happen during the first few weeks after installation. However, it is very important not to press on them and instead, take your car back to the shop. Bubbles can be easily fixed by applying some heat to the wrap.

Most car owners make a mistake when washing their cars. The problem can occur due to either improper or infrequent washing. You need to clean your car the right way and with the right products to maximize its longevity.

Here are some general tips that will help you maintain a vinyl car wrap:

  1. Always use soft fabric for cleaning or polishing the car. You can also use a sponge. Even if there is some stain on the car, you should avoid scrubbing it too harshly.
  2. Strong chemical products will always damage your wrap, whether we’re talking about cleaning substances or something else.
  3. Avoid going to a car wash. Instead, clean it yourself by using a non-abrasive product. Once you’re done, make sure to thoroughly rinse the car.
  4. Pressure washing can pose problems. Even if you’re keeping an eye on the pressure, the sheer force can easily cause tears in the material.
  5. The best wrap polishes utilize silicone or Teflon. On the other hand, you shouldn’t use carnauba waxes.
  6. If you spill liquid on your car or something else that might damage it, wipe it as soon as possible.
  7. Don’t use polish or wax on specialty wraps.
  8. Ideally, a car owner should test the cleaning product before placing it onto the wrap. Citrus degreasers are great for bugs and debris.

As previously mentioned, while there is an option to pressure wash your car, it is usually not recommended. People love to put intricate designs and motifs on their cars, and even the slightest damage can ruin the pattern.

Unfortunately, pressure washing is inevitable for companies that have a fleet of cars with their logo and custom wraps.

When to replace a vinyl wrap?

When to replace a vinyl wrap

Car owners who install vinyl wrap often return for additional wraps in the future. Given that they last five years on average, you might have to change several covers during a car’s lifespan. Here are some of the most common reasons why you would need a replacement:

  • You want to go with something new and fresh.
  • The wrap has started showing signs of wear and tear.
  • The owner is preparing to sell the car.
  • Your company wants to make a branding change.

Like with installment, it is very important to leave the process to the pros. The biggest danger of removing the wrap yourself is that you can easily damage the paint. However, at the same time, the wrap also provides some minor protection to the paint.

Car wraps are especially popular among commercial entities, and they will perform regular maintenance and replacement whenever the cover suffers some damage. Vinyl wraps are a great way to promote your company and products, but they need regular updates.

Although you don’t have to change the cover as soon as you notice minor damage, it is much better to replace it in the upcoming months so that your vehicle still looks great.

Vinyl wrap or paint job?

Vinyl wrap or paint job

Car owners have an option of either going with new car paint or vinyl wraps.

When considering one of these two alternatives, the first thing to keep in mind is how long it takes to apply or install. The whole process of installing vinyl wraps will take somewhere between 2 to 3 days. After that, you will need to wait for another day before you can drive it.

With paint, things are a bit complicated. The shortest time for a paint job is from 3 to 5 days. However, most shops will take 1 to 3 weeks to apply it. Each paint coat will need 8 hours to dry. So, the more coats you have, the longer you will have to wait.

You should also think about removal. Vinyl has become popular because a professional crew can easily remove it without damaging the paint. Furthermore, the cover will provide some protection to the paint for as long as it’s there.

It is much harder to remove paint, especially if you go with an intricate design. For example, it can be really hard to remove company long or some other branding without causing extensive damage.

Lastly, let’s consider the price tags.

Procedure Price
Low end paint $1,000
Medium end paint $3,000 – $10,000
Luxury pain $60,000
Vinyl wrap $2,500 – $5,000


Maintaining vinyl wrap vs. paint job

Given that both paint and wraps are sensitive, you need to pay extra attention to maintenance.

Both paint and vinyl are susceptible to the elements. As a result, they can easily fade away or get damaged by debris. But vinyl might have a slight advantage as you can simply wipe the body from time to time with a wet cloth.

Paint can be a great solution if you have a garage or shed. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the paint will get damaged relatively quickly and that you’ll have to repaint. This is a major problem if you consider how costly the paint job is compared to vinyl wraps.

Although paint might seem like a more permanent solution, car wraps are also durable if you maintain them properly. In most cases, a car owner will change up to 2 wraps during the car’s life span. Another great thing about the wrap is that you don’t have to cover the whole car. That way, you can even save some money if you’re on a tight budget.

Last thoughts

A vinyl car wrap can last anywhere from 2 to 7 years. Depending on maintenance practices, it might last for even longer. In most cases, it comes down to how you’re cleaning the car and how often you drive it.

Although a car owner can install and replace the vinyl wrap himself, it is much better to hire a professional company. That way, you can avoid potential damage to the paint and other mishaps. Furthermore, when professionals install the cover, it usually lasts for a longer time.

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