SPEAKER 1: A car wrap is a great way to change the personality of your car without the commitment of a new paint job. Think of it as a temporary tattoo that could last a couple of years. Car wraps used to be the domain of high-end luxury and exotic cars. But it’s now a multi-billion dollar industry that’s gotten a lot more mainstream in recent years. There are a ton of colors and finishes available, which means you’re just limited by your imagination. But you’re not just limited to changing up your daily driver. There are a lot of commercial applications. You can advertise your business on the side of your car. Before you go in for a wrap, it’s important to note that it’s not going to cover up flaws in your paint. In fact, it’s probably going to accentuate them. Thin or damaged paint can actually be lifted off when you remove the wrap. So it’s important to start with a nice pristine surface. After about 10 months with our Tesla Model 3, we started to get a little bored of its midnight silver metallic paint.
Rather than wrap it in just a solid color, we decided to have just a little bit of fun. We held a competition among Edmunds employees to come up with a concept. And after the votes were tabulated, this concept won out. The next step– making it happen. We headed to Impressive Wraps just outside of Los Angeles. The first order of business is get that paint surface pristine. That meant a clay bar treatment, followed by an alcohol rub down to remove any contaminants.
They typically remove the bumpers, headlights, and take apart the doors to make installation just a little easier. They use a heat gun to get the wrap to conform to all the contours of the bodywork, followed by a squeegee to get rid of some of the air bubbles. It can take a few days, depending on complexity. One problem area are the door jambs, because of all the complex curves there. With black cars, you can usually get away with not having to wrap that area. Prices typically start right around $3,000 or $4,000 for something like a Mustang. If you go for a bright chrome or metallic finish, that can double the price because it takes a lot more care not to overstretch the vinyl, which would dull the finish. Higher end exotics and luxury cars– they can cost as much as $12,000 because of all the extra care needed when disassembling and assembling the car. Our Tesla came in right around $3,700, which is about what we’d expect to pay for a decent paint job. A wrap can last up to five years if properly cared for by keeping it garaged, covered, and out of the elements.
A lot of sun exposure can actually bake the vinyl to the surface, shortening its lifespan and making it a lot harder to remove. Regularly parking your car on the street, exposing it to salt and extreme temperatures can drop its lifespan down to one year. For those reasons, we had Impressive Wraps add nano-ceramic coating. It protects against water damage and adds an extra layer of UV resistance. This treatment does add another $1,500 to $1,800, though. Of course, your car will eventually get dirty, so it’s important to maintain it and keep it clean. But you can’t take it to an automated car wash, because those brushes might lift off the vinyl. Impressive Wraps recommends handwashing with microfiber towels, or using some of the waterless car wash products out there.
Once you’re done with the wrap, it can cost between $500 and $600 to remove the wrap. If it’s a complicated job, though, it can cost as much as $2,500. Those are the ins and outs of getting your car wrapped. It’s probably not as affordable as you once thought. But it is a fun, low-commitment alternative to a new paint job. Let us know what you think in the comments below. And hit subscribe to see more Edmunds content. That’s a wrap.
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