Continental Wrap Speed Pro Dallas 64eca2e530047

Tips to apply and maintain commercial vehicle wraps

Aug. 29, 2023
The president of SpeedPro Dallas offers fleet managers and technicians tips advice on how to prep for and maintain vehicle wraps.

Whether a fleet is looking for vehicle synchronicity or better branding, vehicle wrapping, or the process of coating a vehicle’s original paint with a customizable vinyl cover, is an eye-catching way to do both. But while vehicle wraps are a great way for a fleet to show off their company, making sure they stay pristine as long as possible requires some effort.

Fleet Maintenance asked Tammy Tyree, president of SpeedPro Dallas, a graphic design and communications company that focuses on signage and vehicle graphics, to provide some tips for fleet managers, technicians, and drivers.

Preparation

For many of their wraps, SpreedPro uses 3M IJ180 cast vinyl, as it is a flexible, versatile material that works well with the contours often found on fleet vehicles. To make sure this material lasts, fleets must be careful when selecting the truck or trucks they want to wrap.

“For a full wrap, a vehicle has to be clean and the paint needs to be in a good condition,” Tyree said. “That is key.”

This means that fleet managers need to consider their prospective vehicles’ age, make, and model, while also inspecting them for dull or deteriorating paint. Unfortunately, this may rule out some of more aged trucks.

“Older vehicles may have chips of paint,” Tyree warned. This doesn’t mean that an older vehicle can’t be used, she said, “but if they still want them wrapped, they have to take extra care because that surface is not ideal and you may have earlier lift.”

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Paint that is starting to oxidize under a wrap will have a similar effect, although dull paint can still be wrapped over. Additionally, vehicles that have been wrapped before may still have some left-behind residue, which can impact the quality of the new branding.

To work around this, fleets who still want to brand previously wrapped vehicles could consider a partial wrap or a decal, the SpeedPro Dallas president advised.

Maintaining a brand wrap

Once a vehicle has been freshly wrapped, Tyree noted that fleets should wait a few days before washing it, as well as avoid putting any harsh chemicals, such as gasoline or alcohol, on the wrap. This is especially true for vehicles with a lot of contouring, which will require special care to ensure the wrap doesn’t begin to peel.

“Because of the different curves, you may even have to hand wash the vehicle,” Tyree noted. “If they’ve got really big scoops, those are things that you’ll want to make sure you take extra care with, too.”

Beyond avoiding abrasive chemicals, the environment can have an impact on a wrap’s longevity and influence when it’s time to replace it.

“In Texas heat, for example, you're going to start to see a deterioration earlier than you would in other regions,” Tyree commented. The type of wrapping may influence its longevity as well, as “if it's a horizontal installation, your wrap may raise on the contours earlier than it would otherwise.”

To mitigate these effects, it’s best to keep the vehicle and wrap clean and as out of the elements as possible. Drivers can do this even when on the road by washing their vehicle every few days in a brushless car or truck wash. And, of course, trying to avoid any door dings and scratches from other drivers will go a long way toward preserving a vehicle’s wrap.

To keep an eye on a wrap’s quality, technicians and drivers should include a quick inspection of the branding during their pre- and post-trip checks. Areas on the vehicle with both contouring and edging are most likely to present the first signs of wear and tear, such as peeling or bubbling, and are good indicators that a wrap may soon need to be replaced. Such areas include the wheel hubs, the refueling station, and any small crevices.

If a technician or driver notices that a vehicle wrap is starting to lift, Tyree did not advise that technicians attempt to patch it themselves, but to check with the wrap manufacturer first. This allows a fleet to verify if the problem is an installation issue or merely a factor of the environment and age. Otherwise, a fleet that attempts to fix its branding themselves may run into presentation issues.

“When you patch something, the difficulty is the color,” Tyree noted. “Depending on how long [the wrap] has been on and if you're trying to do a quick patch, it may not match the existing color that's there. And if it needs to be printed, it depends on what printer the wrap was printed on, as you may not be able to get an exact color match with another machine.”

Vehicle wrapping presents fleets with the opportunity to have eye-catching vehicles while on the road and pull double-duty in terms of uptime and marketing. With these tips, a fleet will have a better chance at mounting and maintaining their branding for years to come.

About the Author

Alex Keenan

Alex Keenan is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She has written on a variety of topics for the past several years and recently joined the transportation industry, reviewing content covering technician challenges and breaking industry news. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

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