Deciding to update your fleet graphics can be a big decision for a company. Whether you are a budding entrepreneur or an established company, this purchase is one of the biggest steps you can take to establish your marketing strategy, and for a much lower cost than comparable types of advertising. Maintaining a wrap, though it may seem like a daunting task, is much like maintaining vehicle paint, it can actually be simpler if you know how fickle paint can be. However, with fleet graphics business owners want to get the absolute most out of their investment. A wrap or graphic is an advertisement, it is not meant to be permanent. Vehicle grade vinyl that has been installed properly generally has a lifespan of 5-7 years if it is maintained well. If the vehicle is expected to sell after its usage, the graphic must be removed. The worse the condition, the worse the removal costs. Wraps that are in bad condition can therefore become a liability to the companies they represent.
What Can Damage Your Wrap?
Well, quite a lot of things actually. For starters, there’s sun damage. Leaving a vehicle with graphics out in the hot sun for an extended period can have a lot of consequences. As with many other items, sun exposure can cause vehicle graphics to fade over time. The vinyl itself will also shrink over time if left in the sun for too long. This can manifest in many different ways, but the most common is cracking. Over time these issues can turn into big problems for your wrap and your company’s image. If sun damage becomes a problem for your vehicle’s graphics, it can potentially lead to complications during the removal process and cost you more money down the road. Storing the vehicle in a garage when it is not in the field is highly recommended.
Dirt and Grime
All vehicles get dirty. A bit of dirt from basic driving is nothing to overstress about. However, the graphic should be washed regularly to prevent grime from embedding into the vinyl. Much like paint, a wrap can be damaged by automatic car washes. Whereas paint swirls and scratches can often be buffed out, once a wrap becomes damaged by a carwash, it may be unrepairable. Therefore it needs to be hand washed or power washed(low pressure) once or twice a week as needed in order to keep it in a presentable condition.
Vinyl is a durable material, it can take more than you think to physically cause damage to vehicle graphics. Still, roads can be hazardous, and commercial vehicles can be exposed to a wide range of conditions. At Don’t Drive Naked, we use top of the line vinyl to protect your vehicle as much as possible. But at the end of the day, it must be acknowledged that road damage and other wear and tear problems are almost guaranteed by the time a graphic reaches the end of its lifespan. A bit of peeling can often be fixed with a heat gun, but take care not to shrink the vinyl. However, a gash caused by a rogue rock, or a scrape with a tree limb may take off a rip in the vinyl. In some cases, it may be a fix that we can help with, but it is no easy task to replace a small sliver of a larger graphic. Therefore, if a graphic cannot be kept in its current condition, come talk to us, if we do not have a fix for the problem; we can talk to you about options for salvaging your advertising message.
What do we recommend?
Come up with a maintenance plan.
This is a bigger issue for companies with larger fleets, but it can be applicable to all companies. When you have a set plan for keeping your vehicle clean and protected from the elements as much as possible, it makes for a much less stressful time with your wrap. Staying consistent and building a habit is very helpful. Sometimes this can mean taking vehicles back to the shop once a week for cleaning. Other times it may mean providing employees with a vehicle cover if they may not have a garage.
Whatever form your system takes is irrelevant, the important part is building it.
Keep your vehicle covered or indoors when not in use.
As it was said previously in the article, the sun can cause damage to wraps over time. Storing your vehicle in a way that its sun exposure is alleviated is highly recommended. This can be one of the best ways to extend the lifespan of your graphics and prevent removal costs from climbing too high.
Sun damage is the most common and detrimental form of damage to vinyl graphics. It can be a hassle, but following this advice will save you money.
Wash your vehicle once or twice a week.
Washing your vehicle regularly is an obvious task that cannot be stressed enough when it comes to keeping your graphics presentable. Over time if it is left on a vehicle, it may stop coming off. Washing your vehicle regularly prevents this problem from occurring in the first place. Use your hands or a pressure washer, do not go through a carwash.
Washing your vehicle prevents dirt and grime from becoming permanent. Do not try to take a shortcut by using an automatic carwash. You will regret that decision.
Recognize that, like all things, a wrap is not a permanent product.
Every person is different. There will be people that do not follow any of these rules, there will be some that follow them religiously. Regardless of how well you maintain your wrap, there’s not much you can do to get it to last past 7 years. The glue and the vinyl itself is breaking down at this point, and there’s nothing that can really be done to save it. Removing the wrap before it gets too far gone is recommended to save you from having to pay skyrocketing removal costs. If you do not maintain your wrap, and expect it to last 7 years, you might go to remove it and be shocked to see that your bill is much larger than expected. Not to mention the customers you may lose by presenting them with a poor image of your company.
Like with all things, when maintaining your wrap, you are simply managing the risk of it deteriorating. There is no way to totally alleviate that risk, a wrap is an investment that depreciates over time.
Keep your fleet’s identity alive! Safeguard your brand by maintaining fleet graphics – because driving ‘naked’ is never an option. Call Don’t Drive Naked and get started today!