Wrap FAQ from Auto Trim of Eau Claire, WI

 Aftermarket accessories and trim for your car or truck

Wrap FAQ


Should I Wrap My Car?

What Is a Car Wrap?

     A wrap is accomplished using special vinyl decal material drastically changing its appearance. There are many options to choose from: standard glossy colors, gradients, matte finished, metallic colors or even full cover graphics. There are few limits to the creativity possible.

     Are you wondering just what to expect from your new wrap? Check this check list for answers to those questions.

     How would you like to use our 'Custom Design Studio' to design and build your own wrap? Be it for Commercial use or just for FUN, this nifty tool is not only fun to play with but very helpful in bringing your vision to fruition.


How Much Do Car Wraps Cost?

     The first thing people usually want to know is, " How much will it cost?"

     Three things determine the price for a vehicle wrap: the amount of material needed (the size of the vehicle: P/U truck, compact car, complete or partial wrap) the type of material (not all vinyl is the same in type, quality or price) the amount of labor (includes computer design and input). In 2014 the PDAA (Professional Decal Applicators Association) averaged prices for ALL wraps in the US – city busses and Mini Coopers and every- thing in between – and they came up with $4,200.

      For example, a matte or satin finish on a car the size of a Mustang can run between $3,500 and $4,500. Metallic finishes are more expensive because the materials cost more and the directional nature of the finish creates more waste. Some could be $5,700 to $7,000.

      If your car is a pricey model, expect a pricey wrap. The extra careful attention with those vehicles along with the difficulty of removing body parts takes more time and adds to the labor costs.


Is It Cheaper to Paint or Wrap a Car?    

     We’ve all seen vehicles covered in a camouflage print or some other kind of eye catching image or a special color or texture. That vehicle has been wrapped in a high-tech vinyl material rather than paint. Wraps are not new; we’ve been doing them since 1992, but they are growing quickly in popularity.

     Wrapping makes it possible to change the look of your ride without making a long-term commitment to the change.

     Here at Auto Trim / Action Signs, we change the looks of our vehicles every 15-18 months. We are experts at this process and would like to share a few pros and cons for your consideration.

Why Would I Wrap My Car?

     If the color of your vehicle isn’t your preference or isn’t offered; or you’re tired of the existing colorIf you have a favorite color that isn't offered as an option from the factory, a car wrap can be a solution.

     Maybe you've grown tired of the color on your current leased vehicle and want a change of pace. You can throw a wrap on it, drive it for a while with the new color, then remove it before the lease is up. Even if you’re leasing the vehicle, you can change the look and then return it to the original one when the lease is up.

     Finally, many businesses wrap company cars to serve as mobile advertisements. And of course, many businesses promote a product or service with the economical mobile advertising that a wrap provides 24/7/365.




What Car Condition Is Required?

     It’s important to note that a wrap will not cover up an old or bad paint job. IT IS NOT USUALLY LESS EXPENSIVE THAN A NEW PAINT JOB.

     High quality wrap vinyl is extremely thin, so if your paint has scratches, door dings or any other imperfections, they will be covered but not eliminated. Most times those things will now stick out and be even more evident. You will not hide anything. Flaws will always show up on the surface.

      If your paint is not in very good condition, the vinyl will have a difficult time adhering to it. It is wise to get any such issues fixed before wrapping the vehicle. How Is a Wrap Installed?

      First the vehicle gets stripped to the sheet metal. “Extras” have to be removed: door handles, moldings, headlights, tail lights, parking lights, fog lights, windshield washers/wipers, antennas, rear view mirrors, trim, emblems, luggage racks, bumpers, grills, license plates, etc etc etc.


     Though some shops will skip some of this step, it’s essential to do a high quality installation.

     Then the vehicle gets thoroughly washed THREE times – once with a detailer’s clay bar to remove any contaminants from the surface; then again with isopropyl alcohol to completely eliminate any wax or grease; then one last time with good old soapy water to get the paint squeaky clean.

     Then the installer applies specially formulated wrap vinyl to each panel of the vehicle separately. A torch or other heat source is used carefully to make the film conformable to the contours of the body.

     Some designs will require multiple layers. Extra attention is needed in door jambs, windshield defroster vents, areas where fenders meet hoods, trunks lids meet quarter panels and areas like these.

     The last step of the application involves proper trimming of surplus material.

     Finally, all the removed parts need to be re-installed. The whole process will take up to a week to complete. The whole project involves much more labor and materials than most people imagine.


Is It Cheaper to Get a Car Wrapped or Painted?

     An inexpensive paint job is usually lower priced than a wrap. A high end paint job with a multi-coat finish will cost about the same as a wrap. This is true if you’ve chosen a basic color paint job. If you want a matte, satin or color-shifting finish, a paint job will cost much more than a wrap that will achieve the same look. In short, there are things that are better done with paint than with vinyl: and there are things that can be better done with vinyl than with paint.


     But remember too, that the wrap is not permanent. You can always return to the original color and you can’t do that with a paint job.


How Long Does a Car Wrap Last?

     If properly cared for, a wrap will last at least 5 years. Many go for years longer. Much depends upon the exposure to the elements. Excessive sun will “bake” the wrap and fade some of the colors and make it harder to remove and shorten the life span. Something similar is also true of any painted finish. If not kept clean a wrap could begin to deteriorate in a year.

How Do You Maintain a Wrapped Car?

     A wrap will last longest if it’s kept in a garage. That’s not practical in most cases, but some have invested in a good car cover. It should be hand washed whenever possible with soft microfiber towels. Automatic car washes are dangerous for wraps. The harsh brushes and high pressure could scratch or lift off the wrap.

How to Remove a Car Wrap

Some adhesive will need to be removed with a solvent remover. Under normal conditions, the wrap will not have damaged the paint in any way – in fact it probably helped to preserve the original finish.

      If the paint was not original and was repaired at some point with a thinner coat, it could be possible that the vinyl will stick to the paint better than the paint sticks to the vehicle and some might come off with the wrap.

It's Not for Everyone

     A vehicle wrap can be like getting a new car or truck. But it’s not something that you put on and then forget about. Take into consideration where you live. If you live in an area where they use salt on the roads in the winter – it can be hard on the wrap. And if you live in a hot climate, the sun can bake the wrap unmercifully.

      If you are able to garage the wrapped vehicle and are willing to do the additional maintenance – a wrap will make your vehicle stand out.


What to Expect from Your New Wrap!

Thank you for purchasing your vehicle wrap

Please keep the following points in mind when
inspecting your finished vehicle

  1. A wrap is not a custom paint job but rather a cost effective, removable alternative which provides you with more detail and impact than any custom paint job will ever be able to offer you.
  2. A wrap does not cover 100% of your vehicle surface area, as some areas like cracks, expansion joints and seams are not covered. The extent of this issue depends on the type of vehicle your wrap is installed on.
  3. Your wrap was installed by trained professionals. We used the highest quality vehicle graphics vinyls and over laminates to create your vehicle wrap and applied them to properly prepared surfaces to promote adhesion. If you were looking for perfection, we came as close as possible using vinyl film.
  4. Each vehicle we wrap has areas that are not recommended for vinyl application and are not warranted. Such areas include but are not limited to door handles, hinges, textured surfaces, emblems, rubber, moldings, weather stripping, sliding windows, exhaust systems and some extreme convex and compound curves. If you chose to have those areas wrapped anyway, we used several techniques to overcome such trouble spots. Some of them are overlays, patches, relief cuts and design considerations. Such blending techniques are not visible from 10 feet away and are as perfect as possible when viewed up close.
  5. Expect the vinyl to have small wrinkles and bubbles and minor imperfections. As an industry standard, if the vehicle looks great from 10 feet away, this is considered to be a successful wrap.
  6. If there are any problems with the graphics, they should be fixed immediately. Letting the problem go could cause the problem to get worse and make it impossible for us to repair properly.