The vinyl wrap on your fleet should be treated with care in order to maximize its lifespan. Although it may be durable, it will require regular maintenance if you want to keep it in pristine condition. In this blog post, we’ll go over how to clean a vinyl-wrapped car and vinyl fleet wrap care best practices that will help extend the life of your investment.
Keeping Your Vinyl Wrap Clean and Well-Maintained
Your business’ fleet wraps are used for advertising your company. When motorists and pedestrians see your business vehicles, you want to ensure you’re creating a positive impression. Poorly-maintained vehicle wraps can create a wrong impression. On top of this, certain factors can also reduce their durability.
If your business is located in the American Southwest, your cars are exposed to more ultraviolet light (UV). UV exposure is common in dry desert environments. As a result, prolonged UV exposure significantly reduces the service life of vehicle wraps.
Another factor to consider is the air quality in your area, which can negatively affect the quality of your fleet wraps. Particulates, smog and other pollutants can build up on the car’s surface. They can damage the wrap on your company vehicles. This is why vinyl wrap care is so important. Below, we detail useful tips on how to maintain your fleet’s vinyl wrap.
Guide to Maintaining Your Fleet’s Vinyl Wrap
You will need to know how to effectively clean a vinyl-wrapped car if you want your fleet to look its best. Keep in mind the often overlooked details, such as the distance of the pressure washer nozzle from the vehicle and water temperature. The following are a few things you can do to maintain your vehicle wrap.
Using a Pressure Washer
Can you use a pressure washer on your vehicle once it’s been wrapped? The short answer is yes. However, there are specific settings you should be mindful of when you clean your vehicles.
They include the following:
- Set the water temperature below 180°F or 80°C. The wrap can peel away or get damaged if it gets too hot.
- Use a water pressure below 2000 psi. Anything above that can damage the wrap.
- Best practice dictates that you should keep the nozzle away from the vehicle at least 12 inches away. Doing this prevents intense pressure from affecting the quality of the fleet wrap.
- Attach a spray nozzle adjusted to a 40-degree wide angle. Again, this reduces the impact of the water pressure on the vinyl wrap.
- Do not spray your company vehicles at an angle, especially if you’re aiming at the edge of the wraps. A strong enough water pressure blasting at certain angles can lift the vinyl off the vehicle causing significant damage. Always spray directly on the vinyl when you clean your cars.
Hand Wash vs. Automated Car Wash
Some vehicle fleet owners may wonder if hand washing their vehicles is a better option than running them through a car wash. You can use both methods to clean and maintain your fleet’s vinyl wrap. However, vehicle wraps need to be treated with care, which means the better option is hand washing your fleet.
Manual washing may be more labor-intensive, but using this method helps ensure the quality and integrity of your wraps. Washing by hand is a gentler option, and your team can use custom cleaning methods that best suit each car that is being washed.
Automated car washing your entire fleet will mean using the same predetermined setting. You can’t provide that gentle touch as with a hand wash. However, an automated car wash does the job a lot faster.
So, which drive-through car wash is best for your vinyl wraps? We recommend touchless or spray-only automated car washes. Brush car washes can be too rough on the vinyl’s surface. The scrubbing effect can lift the edges of the wraps and cause peeling. The bristles can also be too harsh for the film and degrade its quality.
How Often Should I Wash Wrapped Cars?
Proper vinyl vehicle wrap care requires regular cleaning. You should wash your wrapped cars at least once a week. If your vehicles are exposed to more pollutants daily, they will require more frequent cleaning.
Type of Detergent
Not all detergents are best-suited for vinyl wrapped vehicles. We recommend using non-abrasive detergents such as the Deep Crystal Car Wash, Meguiar’s NXT Generation Car Wash, and 3M Car Wash Soap 39000. These cleaning products are designed to be gentle on cars, especially on vehicles with vinyl wraps.
Apart from using non-abrasive detergents, use sponges and soft cloths when cleaning your company vehicles. Never use abrasive fabrics when cleaning your wrapped car. The goal is to avoid scratching on the film’s surface.
Further, it’s best practice to rinse off any detergents quickly. Even non-abrasive detergents can damage a vinyl wrap if they’re left to soak on the film. So instead, rinse the detergent immediately and give your car a thorough rinse and wipe down. This practice maintains the finished look of the vinyl.
You can conduct spot cleaning if there is only a tiny amount of dirt on the vinyl wrap. Use isopropyl rubbing alcohol for isolated stains. Don’t forget to rinse the cleaned area with cool water afterward. It’s not advisable to use tire dressing for spot cleaning since it can cause stains on vinyl surfaces.
Dealing with Difficult Stains
Some stains are more difficult to clean and remove, even with the right type of detergent and cleansers for wrapped vehicles. Examples of these difficult stains include tree sap, dead insects stuck on the car’s surfaces and bird droppings.
The best way to get rid of them is to spot clean them as soon as possible. Letting them sit too long on your vinyl wrap makes them more challenging to clean. If they’re left to dry on the surface film for too long, they may permanently damage the wrap.
The best way to remove difficult stains is to soak the affected area in warm soapy water for two to three minutes. This much time should be enough to loosen any of the contaminants. After that, rinse and wipe down the surface.
What should you use for more stubborn stains? We recommend using isopropyl alcohol and water – two parts isopropyl alcohol and one part water. We recommend either Meguiar’s Gold Class Bug and Stain Remover or 3M Citrus Base Cleaner if that doesn’t work.
Gas and Fuel Spills
Gas and fuel spills can occur on your vinyl wrap. However, these spills are relatively easy to clean. Just be sure to wipe them off with a wet paper towel, and they’ll come right off quickly.
Vinyl Fleet Wrap Maintenance Tips
Here are some more useful tips and reminders to keep in mind for maintaining your fleet’s vinyl wrap:
- Avoid wiping wraps while they’re hot – it can cause the surface to wrinkle.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to pollutants, debris, smog and rain.
- Park your car under a well-sheltered area.
- Remove any section of the vinyl film that has turned rust-colored or brownish. It’s better to replace the affected panel than to damage the paint due to exposure to acid and other pollutants stuck under the film.
- Never use engine degreasers, orange oil, oven cleaners, bathroom and kitchen cleaners, oil-based cleansers and solvents when washing a wrapped vehicle.
Get The Best Vinyl Wrap Maintenance
At AZPRO, we have industry experts who have extensive experience in the caring and maintenance for vehicle fleets with vinyl wraps. We also offer an extensive range of vehicle fleet graphics services. We are certified G7 color reproduction experts and we carry a 3M Matched Components Systems (MCS) warranty. Our ultimate goal is to deliver timely, high-quality end products to our clients. Call 866-503-8345 today or fill out this form to get a free quote.