We often are asked about caring for vinyl car decals and fleet graphics. The investment in vinyl graphics for cars and trucks can be substantial and protecting your vehicle lettering / wraps saves you money and keeps your brand fresh. 

There are several types of failures to these vinyl graphics for cars, buses, and trucks that are preventable. The most common problems we see are related to washing your vehicle. Often times, we see the individual character vehicle lettering with numbers and letters missing. Many times, there is a torn effect that leaves adhesive, but the vinyl is missing. In other cases, the printed vinyl graphics for cars and trucks turn brown and has a burnt look. 

Another nemesis to vinyl is ultraviolet rays more commonly known as UV. That’s right, the sun. 

First, let’s talk about washing you car with vinyl decals or fleet wraps.  

If using an automatic wash, one would think that touchless would be better than brushes running over your vehicle lettering. This assumption is incorrect. We use heat and outward pressure to remove vinyl car decals and fleet wraps. A touchless car wash uses hot water and much more water pressure to compensate for not having brushes. When a water jet catches the edge of a vinyl graphic, the heat softens the vinyl and adhesive while simultaneously forcing water under the graphic. 

To make your vinyl graphics more durable and long-lasting, here are some steps to take when washing:

  1. When you first receive your vehicle, do not wash it for seven days. When you do wash it, hand washing with a mild detergent and a soft cloth is the best. However, most of us do not have the time and it uses far more water than pressure washing and automated washing.  
  2. When using a pressure washer, do not move in close to remove a small piece of dirt or grease. Wipe it with a rag or brush the whole vehicle with a mild detergent after a preliminary rinse. Always spray from twelve to eighteen inches away. This will give a wider fan and not focus the pressure on small area. 
  3. If you drive through a car wash, use those with brushes versus a “No Touch” wash. 
  4. Window Graphics are more prone to damage when taking them through automated car washes. Even the ones with brushes can cause damage or take the decal off the window. We highly recommend hand washing all window graphics. 

Now, how about the sun?

Obviously, most vehicles are used outside and are exposed to sun daily. When vinyl car decals and fleet graphics are in the sun, the worst possible condition is to be stationary and facing toward the south. The worst cases we see are on motor homes that are parked in the same position for extended periods of time. Here in Colorado the effects are greatly increased by the altitude and abundance of sunny days. 

To mitigate the negative effects of the sun and UV rays on fleet graphics, you can do the following:

  1. The best thing to do is park in a garage or covered area. 
  2. If parking for extended periods, reposition the vehicle regularly if possible. 
  3. If your vehicle works at night and is parked during the day, try to park it in different directions. 
  4. Use the vehicle daily because the sun is never focused on the decals for extended periods and the vinyl remains more flexible. 

When decals start to fail, there is not a lot you can do without professional care. If your vehicle lettering or wrap begins to crack, or vinyl begins to fall/flake off, then give us a call and we will determine the most appropriate route to meet your needs. Do not pick or peel the graphic.

We hope this helps you protect your investment and represent your company in positive, professional manner to your clients and community. If you have more questions, please contact our team and they will be happy to help you get the most out of your vehicle lettering and printed graphics!