It’s difficult not to notice a wrapped vehicle – and that’s exactly why wraps exist. Car wraps are an inexpensive way to show off your business or service and because a wrapped vehicle travels – you can get upwards of 40,000 views a day on busy roads.

Car wraps are much more customizable and affordable than a custom paint job, but how do vinyl wraps compare to paint when it comes to serviceable life? Are there ways to make your wrap last longer? Let’s learn how long does a car wrap last and ways you can get the most mileage from your own wrap.

How Long Does a Vinyl Wrap Last?

How Long Does a Car Wrap Last?

Most car wraps last approximately five to seven years. After five to seven years most vinyl wraps will begin to crack, fade, and peel off the vehicle.

An extra two years makes a big difference in getting your money’s worth so how do you get your wrap to last closer to the seven year range compared to five? With proper preparation and a little maintenance.

How to Make Your Wrap Last Longer

There two major ways to make your wrap last longer, with proper preparation and proper care. Let’s learn the steps required to get the best life out of your wrap.

Proper Preparation

The more prepared your vehicle is for a vinyl wrap, the better the overall product will be. Before your vehicle is wrapped it needs to undergo a two-step cleaning process. Vehicle owners perform the first step of an initial cleaning before the wrap company follows up with a secondary cleaning.

To prepare your vehicle for the wrap process, give it a thorough wash with an appropriate cleaner and non-scratch sponge or towel. Your goal is to remove as much dirt, dust, grime, and grease as possible, including areas that won’t be wrapped.

After the initial clean your vehicle will be ready for a deep clean performed by the wrap company. Before applying the vinyl, a wrap technician will go over the entire vehicle with alcohol and other agents to create a cleaner surface then when your vehicle first rolled off the assembly line. Now your vehicle is primed and ready to wrap.

Reputable Wrap Company

As the popularity of wraps rises, so do bad wrap installers. It doesn’t matter if you spend hours cleaning your vehicle, designing the perfect wrap, and put several hundred dollars on the table if your wrap company doesn’t know what they’re doing. Use a combination of online reviews, years in business, and personal references to choose a reputable wrap company that will give you a final product the way you imagined it.

High Quality Materials

Accidents happen. Other than leaving your wrapped vehicle in the garage, there’s not much you can do to prevent damage, but there are ways to ward it off. The best thing you can do for your vinyl wrap? Wash it.

Vinyl is not metal and can fade or become damaged when dirt, dust, and other residue is left sitting on it for long periods of time. The more you wash your wrapped vehicle, the fewer damage issues you’re likely to deal with. Only use vinyl-appropriate washing solutions and stay away from protectants like wax and polish that are meant for metal. Ideally you should wash your wrap weekly.

When It’s Time to Replace Your Wrap

Low-quality vinyl is much more susceptible to peeling, cracking, and fading. Like anything else the higher quality materials installed, the better the wrap will perform. Look for vinyl companies with great reputations like 3M and Avery Denneson. If you’ve chosen a reputable wrap company, you don’t need to worry about high quality materials, but it never hurts to ask.

Proper Care

If you cleaned your vehicle well and chose a reputable wrap company you’ve completed the first obstacle. Now let’s learn how to get the longest life from your wrap starting with factors that affect wraps and what you can do to fight those factors.


Both extreme cold and heat will affect the lifetime of your wrap. Extreme heat can make your wrap malleable and susceptible to damage while extreme cold can crack it. Inevitably your wrap will be exposed to extreme weather, but your goal is to limit that exposure. There aren’t going to be a lot of people on the road during a deep freeze anyway.

Sun Exposure

You can’t see it, but the sun is bombarding everything it touches with damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV can damage your skin, fade your home’s exterior paint, and damage your wrap. Like high and low temperatures, you will never be able to avoid sun exposure but that’s where the next factor comes into play.

Where to Store Wrapped Vehicle

Because it needs to be driven to be seen your wrap will always be exposed to sun and extreme temperature but when it’s not on the road a wrapped vehicle should be hidden from environmental enemies. You don’t have to go crazy and store your wrapped vehicle in a climate-controlled cell – your garage will work fine.

A garage keeps the sun and its damaging UV rays from beating down on your vehicle and even an un-insulated garage will provide a more stable temperature compared to outside. If you’re not showing off your wrap, keep your vehicle in a garage if possible. A few hours in the shaded garage everyday compared to outside will provide you a much longer wrap life.

Grease, Grime, and Washing Your Wrap

Unless your wrapped vehicle stays in storage forever it’s going to get grease, grime, and road gunk on it. While grease and dirt aren’t big problems on painted metal, they can cause wear down vinyl. The longer road gunk like oil splatters live on your wrap, the more likely you’ll see damage or premature aging.

To give your wrap the longest life you need to wash it frequently. Washing removes everyday grime and dirt to leave your wrap looking as fresh as the day it was put on. It’s recommended to hand wash your wrapped vehicle two to four times a month, depending on how much you drive and where.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Vinyl Wrap

Signs you need to replace your vinyl wrap include cracking, peeling, tears, and drastic color fade. Expansive cracking is your most obvious sign that your wrap has worn out its welcome.

Wrap Your Car Right for the Longest Life

Most vinyl wraps last five to seven years but you can get the most mileage out of your wrap with proper preparation and proper care. A wrap is easy and affordable so don’t wait longer while thousands of potential eyes stare past your boring work truck, start the process to get your vehicle wrapped today.