Back in the day, if you were to associate the word “vinyl” with a car, you’d probably picture some glossy vinyl car seats in your head. After all, it was hugely popular way back in the old days when computers had floppy disks and cars were upholstered in this plasticky rubbery fabric.
But these days, vinyl has a whole other use entirely. In this day and age, vinyl is commonly used to wrap a car’s exterior body panels. Or interior trim pieces.
These wraps are available in a wide variety of colours, finishes, and textures. You could wrap your car in a tasteful gloss black finish, or deck your car out in a matte wrap with pearlescent hues, or even satin brushed metallic finishes. Spend a little time browsing online or in Instagram, and you’d easily see examples of such vehicles. Chrome wrapped supercars in various hues, matte black SUVs, or faux camouflaged coupes. The possibilities are endless.
Another common material that drivers use to wrap their cars with is Paint Protection Film (PPF). These films are clear and serve to provide a barrier or layer of protection for their car’s precious paint work. While these films are not immune to scrapes or scratches, small indentations in protective films can be literally ironed out with heat to achieve a smooth finish.
As with ordinary paint and clear gloss coatings, vinyl wraps will deteriorate over time. Exposure to the sun and other elements may hasten that process further. So the question is, how do you maintain that custom wrap?
(These methods of cleaning vinyl wrap do apply for paint protection films as well, so read onto find out more too.)
Given the right care, high quality wraps can last upwards of 5, or in some instances up to 7 years. Crucially, a vinyl wrap protects a car’s original paint work from damage or scratches. But dead insects, bird dirt, and other contaminants will have to be wiped off as soon as possible because some animal droppings (or innards) may be acidic and could potentially eat into the material. Or the bird dirt may dry up, solidify, and attach itself to the wrap, making it a lot more difficult when it comes time to remove it. Potentially leaving a nasty looking hole in the middle of your hood for instance.
Vinyl wrapped cars also have to be washed and cleaned regularly. Ideally, once or twice a week. Any road debris or sand that may be stuck on the material should be cleared and dusted off with water and proper . There are many different solutions to wash your vehicle wrap, but the cleaning agents used should be pH neutral, and contain no oil-based cleaning agents.
You can still pressure wash your wrapped car, but the water pressure should be set under 2000psi or the surface may get warped. The nozzle should also be set to a 40-degree wide spray angle to avoid a concentrated jet of water, and the nozzle should be at least 30cm away from the car, in the event the spray does damage to the vinyl surface. Edges or seams of the body panels should also be avoided as it may cause the wrap to lift and peel under higher pressure.
You should also avoid spilling fuel onto the surface while filling your tank. If you do, wipe it off immediately and give it a once over with a wet paper towel. Parking under the hot sun for extended periods of time should be avoided if possible. But given the number of enclosed car parks in Singapore, it’s a less serious issue.
Seems like a lot of effort, I know. But vinyl wraps aren’t indestructible. In fact at just 110 microns, or 0.11mm thick, they are actually pretty fragile. Lean on your car with your keys in the back pocket, you may even scratch it. So if you want your matte black G-wagon to stay frosty, take care of your wrap.