Vinyl vehicle graphics are made to stand up to the elements but that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. Proper care and maintenance for vehicle wraps and graphics is important to prevent damage, chipping and peeling. Keep your vehicle graphics looking sharp mile after mile with these tips:
- Wash graphics regularly by hand with a sponge and mild detergent. Rinse debris off first with a spray of water. If using a new detergent for the first time, test it on a small area of the graphic to ensure it doesn’t cause bleaching or smearing. To finish, rinse thoroughly again with clean water and use a silicone squeegee or clean microfiber cloth to dry.
- Apply a silicone or Teflon-based polish designed for vehicle graphics to add a layer of protection.
- Store the vehicle indoors whenever possible. If a garage isn’t available consider using a cloth car cover to protect the graphics from sun exposure and acidic pollutants that are commonly found in the atmosphere of metropolitan areas.
- Allow fuel spills, tree sap, bird droppings or other contaminants to sit on the graphic for any period of time. These can quickly damage the graphic film. Spot clean the graphic with hot water and a citrus-based cleaner (remembering to test any cleaner on a small area first).
- Run the vehicle through automated car washes with brushes. These brushes and the dirt they usually contain can chip and abrade the graphic. Brushless car washes are a better option for vehicle decal care.
- Apply carnauba-based wax to vinyl graphics or use any abrasive polishes or cutting compounds.
- Hold the nozzle of a pressure washer at an angle to the edge of the graphic. This can cause the edges to peel. Hand washing will extend the life of your vehicle graphic, but if you must pressure wash your vehicle, use low pressure and temperatures and keep the nozzle at least one foot away and perpendicular to the graphic while working.
- If a graphic is just beginning to lose its luster a silicone or Teflon-based polish designed for vehicle graphics can restore the finish and protect it from further damage.
- If the wrap film starts to turn brown have a professional remove the wrap immediately. This discoloration is the result of acidic pollution and if left unchecked it will stain the underlying paint.
- If a sticky contaminant won’t come off with hot water and a soft cloth, try a mixture of two parts Isopropyl alcohol to one part water. Meguiar's Gold Class™ Bug and Tar Remover or 3M™ Citrus Base Cleaner are also effective. A critical part of car wrap maintenance is never using abrasive or scrubbing tools, which will damage the film.
Caring for your car wrap is easy when you follow these guidelines. Do you have any questions about vehicle wrap care or installation? Tweet them to us @FASTSIGNS and one of our visual communications experts will give you an answer.