Thinking of having your car wrapped but need to know the answers to all those frequently asked questions? Our vehicle wrapping FAQs guide is here to help.

In the market to give your car a completely new look? Then vehicle wrapping could be for you. We speak to 3M, the industry leaders in car wrap films, to put right some age old misconceptions and highlight the advantages of modifying your car in this way.

What is a car wrap?

A car wrap is a great way to change the look of your vehicle without the potentially expensive paint respray. Either the complete car or selected panels are covered with a vinyl film. The films can be overlayed with different colors or printed graphics for a bespoke design.

What are the benefits of vehicle wrapping over paint?

There’s a few, here are the main ones…

  • To change the color of your car quickly and cost effectively, without the need of a re-spray.
  • Wraps are reversible, so if you want to go back to the way the car was, you can.
  • Car wraps can even protect your original paintwork from sun damage, mild stone chips and abrasions.

How much does a car wrap cost?

A car wrap can cost anything from $2000 / £1800 to $/£5,000, all the way up to $/£10,000 for something really high-end and bespoke. The price will depend on the vehicle type and specific wrap film that you would like to use. The level of detail, i.e. door handles, mirrors, bumper, and sills will also impact on the price. Costs typically include materials, surface preparation and labor.

Vehicle wrapping

What car wrap finishes are available, and do they differ in price?

3M’s range of wrap films include Gloss, Matte, Satin and Textured finishes.

Cost will vary depending on the level of film you select.

How long does a vehicle wrap last?

If you go with 3M, your properly installed and properly maintained car wrap, is warranted to remain in acceptable viewing condition for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. They are also warranted to be removable within that period.

Will my car paint be damaged when the wrap is removed?

3M car wrapping films are tested for compatibility with many of the commonly used paint systems in the automotive industry. Decades of experience show that their adhesives typically don’t chemically react with the paint. However, there are some points to consider to ensure the paint remains unaffected:

  • Paint must be completely dry prior to the application of graphic films.
  • Improper paint repair can have low tack to the car body, meaning that some may be pulled off along with the film on removal.

Something to note however is that when your car paint is covered by a graphic film, it is better protected against UV rays, dirt, and other mechanical impact than the uncovered areas. So, it may be necessary to polish the car to bring both the previously wrapped part and unwrapped part to the same finish.

Vehicle wrapping

Can you remove a vehicle wrap yourself?

Yes. When removed within the 3M warranty period, they are guaranteed to remove cleanly. If any residue remains, it is easily cleaned off. Professional removal is recommended though.

How do you maintain a vehicle wrap? Does having a matte or satin wrap make a difference to the maintenance process?

Wash the vehicle by hand using a mild detergent with no additives such as wax. Or take it through a brushless car wash, but don’t use the wax option. Dry thoroughly to avoid spotting. A few hints:

  • Wash your vehicle frequently
  • Don’t wash your car for the first week following application to ensure the graphic film reaches maximum adherence. You may need to wait even longer if the weather is very cold.
  • Take care when using high-pressure cleaners and ensure that the water temperature is not over 60°C, spray from a distance of 50cm or more and don’t aim directly at the film edges.

Matte and structured wrap films require more care than glossy surfaces, as the roughness and structure allow fine dust to settle more easily. Cleaning these surfaces takes longer but specialized products such as 3M Matte Film Cleaner are available.

If you’d like more advice, we’ve got a full guide on how to detail a wrapped car.

Why use 3M vinyl wrap for vehicle wrapping over a competitor? Vinyl is vinyl, right?

3M has been a leader in innovation from the very beginning. The science behind 3M™ Wrap Film provides superior performance, offering ease of use to graphics installers and leading to outstanding results.

3M Wrap Films come with the most comprehensive warranty in the industry, which offers up to seven years protection of vertical applications.

How would I go about getting a printed vehicle wrap? Do I have to supply the design?

3M Authorised Vehicle Wrappers are all experts in print film design and application so they will work with you to take your ideas to a digital design, print and then apply. They work with small one-off projects to larger branded fleet wraps.

Do I have to notify the DVLA if my car is wrapped in a different colour?

As with insurance companies, the DVLA also needs to be informed of a complete colour change. However, this is usually a very quick process that involves the completion of a V5C form.