What is a car wrap? Everything you need to know

You may be wondering, “what is a car wrap” well, you’ve come to the right place. There is a lot of information about car wraps out there. However, it can be hard to know which is true. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about getting your car wrapped and your options. So keep reading to prepare for the process and learn how to care for your vehicle after the wrapping is complete.

What Is Car Wrapping

Car wrapping is a way to change the color of your car without having it painted. You can make your car an entirely different color and finish and add unique designs. It can make you feel like you have a brand-new car without purchasing a new one. 

A little bit of history about vehicle wrap

Almost half a century after the first invention of the automobile, paint has entirely dominated the graphic design market from basic to supreme.

But after the 1960s, when new material called Vinyl Chloride came into existence, a shift in graphic design started and changed forever. It began with die-cutting technology in the 1980s when businesses could letter their vehicle without custom painting jobs.

However, in 1960 and 1970, many small businesses and companies did not start using vinyl graphic design right away because they were too expensive and not readily available like today. Only large companies used them at that time.  

After 1990, a giant leap in printing technology and graphic design, a wide range of vinyl wrap colors become more accessible and affordable.  

Nowadays, in the 21st century, with advanced progress in printing technology and consistent growth in the graphic design industry, vinyl wrap is no more limited to companies and businesses wrapping their vehicles for only mobile advertising. It is also now widely used for personal car customization as well.

Types of Vehicle Wraps Available

You aren’t limited to a specific type of wrap. Instead, there are many options to choose from, and you can pick one based on your preferences. 


The most popular choice is a colored wrap. People tend to get wraps to change the appearance of their cars. You can choose from hundreds of different colors and finishes. There are metallic options as well as matte. You can mix and match and make a combination and create new different looks that no one has ever seen before. 


A clear or transparent wrap will not change your car’s color. Its sole purpose is to protect the original paint job and the metal components. Your vehicle is going to be exposed to a lot of outside particles and this wrap will just be extra protection from debris, bird poop, and bugs, and prevent rusting


If you own a business, using your vehicle as advertising is a great way to drum up more business. You can have your logo, social media handles, website, and business phone number on your car. You likely pass by thousands of people when you drive, which is a lot of free advertising. It’s a completely different marketing strategy that can really help your business. 


If you aren’t ready to commit to a full wrap, or if you like the color of your car and just want to make it a little flashier, you can do a partial wrap. You can have only the door changes or just the hood. If you want a smaller portion, you can wrap the side mirrors and door handles. It’s really up to you what you want to have wrapped and what you don’t 

Blackout Wrap

If you’re looking for something sleek and unique, you can do what’s called a blackout wrap. This means everything chrome on the outside of your car is wrapped in black. This includes the grill and rims. 

Prepping Your Car

Prepping a car for wrapping can be time-consuming, and it’s typically the technician’s least favorite part. The car has to be washed and dried completely. If there is any dirt left on the surface, it could ruin the wrap and it won’t last as long. The vinyl wrapping could lift prematurely and you’ll end up having to replace it. 

The technician will also have to remove all the wax on the body of the car. It could make the adhesive not stick to the surface. 

Application Process

There are two different ways a car wrap can be applied. One is the dry wrap method and the other is the wet wrap application method. 

The differences are pretty straightforward. Like anything else, there are pros and cons to both. There is no right or wrong way; it depends on which type of wrap you are applying and you may be more comfortable with a specific method. 

Dry Application Method

Applying a wrap with the dry method requires a lot of skill and precision. Once the wrap touches the vehicle, it adheres to it. There’s not much room for error. 

This method is great for curved surfaces as the material can be heated up and shaped to fit the car perfectly. This method is faster and has cleaner results. Once the wrap is on, you can drive it home. 

There is a greater risk of damaging the paint underneath if it’s not done correctly the first time. A skilled professional will use this method over the wet application the majority of the time. 

Wet Application Method

Using the wet application method is best for flat surfaces. For example, if you’re having a wrap applied to a certain part of your car, this would be an easy method. 

The wet method is much for forgiving than the dry application. Fluid is applied to the wrap so it doesn’t stick to the vehicle before you’re ready for it too. It gives the person who is applying the wrap a little time to ensure it’s on just right. 

Once the wrap is in the right place, a squeegee will be used to remove all the fluid and air bubbles that may be lingering. It’s crucial to wait at least 24 hours to drive your vehicle after applying the wrap.

If you’re contacting a professional, be sure to ask which method they use. Typically, those who have more experience will use the dry application method. 

Picking Your Colors

There isn’t a limit on what you can do with your car’s wrapping. You can pick multiple colors and multiple finishes. If you want part of it to be matte and the other part glossy, you can. You can also choose multiple colors.

car wrapping professional will be able to make your vision come to life. If you aren’t sure exactly what you want, you can run some of your ideas by the technicians.

They may have some ideas that can help you narrow it down. Looking online at designs is a great idea; however, the colors on the website might look different in person, so don’t be afraid to ask if they have samples in the shop. 

Check their website too; they may have some resources that can help you pick, too. 

Vinyl Wraps 

Vinyl wraps are the best for your car, but keep in mind there are different types of vinyl and there may be one that is better for your car. High-quality material is going to cost you more, but it’s going to look better and last longer than a cheaper one. 

Car Wrap Benefits 

There are a number of benefits that come with having your car wrapped. It’s typically a quick process, and may only take five days. Having your car custom painted could take weeks, which is probably not ideal. 

A wrap can be removed as well and doesn’t affect your resale value while having it painted will. The wrap will also protect your car from stretches and damage.

A vinyl wrap is going to also be more affordable. The installers will do the cleaning process but they may ask you to run your car through the wash the day before

Your car may be in the shop for a few days, so you’ll want to be sure to remove all items from the car. If you keep any important documents or medication in your car, you’ll want to take them out in case the process takes longer than expected. 

When you buy a car, you’re limited to the color choices that they have in stock. Once you own the car, you have the opportunity to be as creative as you want. You can really make it your own. 


There are a few downsides you need to be aware of. Taking your car through a carwash isn’t always the best idea when it comes to car wraps. There are some that can handle the intense water pressure, but some can’t, so you’ll need to talk to your provider about that. 

If you get into a car accident or if your car gets dented the wrap may have to be removed in order to fix it. Bird droppings can also damage the wrap and eat away at it, so it’s important to clean it often, which can be a hassle. 

Washing Your Wrapped Car

Having your car wrapped is an investment and you want to take care of it as best you can. This will ensure it lasts a long time and doesn’t start to chip or peel prematurely. 

It’s suggested that you hand wash your car once a week to ensure it stays in the best condition possible. Do your best to avoid washing your wash with harsh chemicals.

You’ll want to use soft brushes and clothes on the wrapping. Your vehicle won’t need to be waxed either, which is a great benefit. The wrap will hold its texture and look for a long time without having to be polished. 

Letting your car sit in the hot sun for an extended amount of time can also be damaging. If you don’t have a garage or carport, you may want to consider buying a car for it.

Even snow and rain can decrease the lifespan of the wrap. If you live in an area with bad weather, you can still invest in car wrapping. You’ll just need to spend a little extra time taking care of it.

Places that get a lot of snow often put salt on the ground to help melt it. The salt can be damaging and you’ll want to figure out the best way to wash it during the winter months.

The same thing goes if you live by the ocean. The salt air can stick to the wrapping and make it deteriorate. 

What Is The Lifespan

Vehicle wraps are very durable. If they are properly cared for, they can last several years. A wrap can last about seven years if it’s applied correctly. It will also be dependent on the wrap that you choose.

You will likely notice a difference in look around year four or five. Typically the color starts to fade and the shine goes out around that time.

However, that’s the natural process of anything as it ages. It’s better for it to lose its shine than for it to bubble and peel prematurely because the installer didn’t do a good job. 

If you’re planning on keeping your car wrapped for a long time, be sure to go to an experienced professional. They will know which vinyl wraps are the best. If you plan on changing the color again after a couple of years, you can save some money on the quality of the wrap if you wanted to. 

Can It Be Removed 

One of the best things about car wraps is that they can be removed whenever you want. The removal process, just the installation, should be done by a professional to insure it doesn’t ruin the paint underneath. 

Usually all that’s needed is a heat gun and some time. It’s not a quick process and a high-quality car wrap will come off much smoother than a cheap one. 

It’s best to take your car back to the original shop. It will cost you about $600 to have it removed completely and the process will take about three or four hours. 

Wraps vs Custom Paint

There are a few differences between having your car custom painted and having it wrapped. Paint jobs so typically last longer than wraps.

However, a wrap can be removed and replaced as often as the owner wants. A paint job will have to be sanded off and repainted and the original paint will come off, too.

A car wrap is also cheaper than a paint job depending on what you have done. Painting your car will take much longer and could decrease the value of your car. 

No matter what wrap you put on your car it will act as a protectant. If you are putting advertisements on your car for your company a wrap is going to be the best option. It can be hard to resell your car or cars if you have your business all over it. 


If you’re considering getting a car wrap then you’ve probably considered the price or are wondering how much it is. The cost of a car wrap can vary.

There are a number of different factors that will contribute to the overall price. The main price determinant is going to be the size of your car and which wrap you get. 

As you can expect a higher-quality wrap is going to cost more. If you get a custom wrap with your logo or a specific design, it will also increase the price. A basic wrap will be the most affordable.

A full wrap for a compact car is going to cost you about $2,000. There are cheaper options but remember you get what you pay for. 

If you own a Sedan you can expect to pay close to $3,000 and if you have a larger crossover the price will increase by about $500. An SUV or a truck will run at about $4,000 for a quality wrap. 

Lastly, if you have a custom car or luxury vehicle, you could pay as little as $5,000 or as much as $10,000. 

DIY Options 

There are ways you can wrap your car yourself. However, we don’t recommend it. Applying a wrap to a car is tedious and requires a lot of attention to detail.

Unless you’re a professional or working under one, it’ll be really easy to make a mistake. You’ll likely end up spending more money having it fixed and done correctly than you would if you had it done by a professional the first time. If you’re interested in becoming a pro, there are classes and people who will be willing to teach you. 

Wrapping A Car With Scratches

If your car has previous stretches, dents, or rust, you may want to have it repaired first. A car wrap is a thin flexible material so it will show imperfections.

It will conform to the damage, but it doesn’t cover it. You’re going to be paying a big chunk of money for your vehicle wrap, so it’s likely that you want it to look amazing. Spending the money to repair the base later will be worth it. 

Finding A Company

When you’re looking for a company to handle your car wrapping, it’s crucial that you find one that is experienced and reputable. They should be upfront about the pricing and the timeline. There shouldn’t be any hidden fees that you find out about after the fact. 

A good company will have technicians that take the time to answer all your questions. They also won’t pressure you into working with them. You can talk to multiple companies to get different quotes in your area.  

If you have friends or family that have had their cars wrapped, don’t forget to ask them for recommendations. Online reviews can also be really helpful. Don’t dismiss a company just because they have one or two bad reviews; if they have more than that, you may want to move on to another company.


There’s always a risk that your wrap could be damaged. The majority of shops will offer warranties; be sure to ask about them before signing on the dotted line.

Some will cover damage for up to five years. It’s important to read the whole warranty so you know what you’re getting. Having protection will give you peace of mind knowing if something happens, you’re covered. If the installer messes something up and you don’t realize it until a few days later, you’ll be able to take it back to the shop to be fixed. 

You’ll also want to check with your car insurance company. They typically cover damages, to your car which will include the vinyl wrap. However, if the accident was your fault, then it might not be covered. 

Wraps vs Decals 

You may be wondering “what is a car wrap” and “how is it different from a decal”.They are actually pretty similar, but there are a few differences you should know about. A wrap can cover anywhere on your vehicle, but a decal is going to be a smaller piece like on the door or hood.

They are a great option if you only want to put a logo on your car. A decal is going to be much cheaper to apply, but it’s also not going to last as long as a wrap would. It’s also not going to look as professional.

There’s a lot of time that goes into applying a wrap and it’ll be noticeable. If you’re trying to promote your brand, a full-wrapped car is going to stand out and grab more people’s attention. 

Thinking of Getting Your Car Wrap

The average American keeps their car for about six years before getting a new one. If you’ve had your car for a few years, instead of getting a new one, you should consider getting a car wrap. 

Getting your car wrapped can be a great investment, but it’s crucial that you know all the facts. There are a lot of things to keep in mind, so take your time deciding which color and finish you want. 

If you’ve decided that now isn’t the best time for you to car wrap, that’s okay. Save this article for later, so when you do want to change the color of your car you have it as a reference. 

We have some other articles on our site that you may find interesting, too. Check them out for more information about vehicle wraps and other car services.

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