Best Car Wraps: Give Your Ride Personality and Style
Enhance the look and feel of your car with these custom car wraps you can install yourself
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BY Hank O'Hop / LAST UPDATED ON September 30, 2021
A lot of great things have happened for car owners in recent times, but perhaps the most buzz-worthy of those are car wraps. What was once a crude and obvious step below a paint job is now a mod that can be a total show stopper, rivaling the finish of even high-end builds. On top of that, it's something you can do yourself with the right equipment and a little bit of patience. We know you already know you want to wrap your car, so we won't waste any more of your time. Below, you'll find some of our favorite entries, then we'll set you up with a buying guide to help you master the market of car wraps!
3M is a leading name in the industry for a reason. This 250-square-foot roll offers the quality, durability, and finish to show us exactly why that is.
- Relatively easy to work with
- High-quality construction
- High durability
- Pro-level finish
- May be too costly for beginners to justify
- Receiving old stock is a common issue
Why go overboard on your first try? This relatively affordable 250-square-foot roll is exceptionally durable and offers quality that is sure to impress.
- Relatively affordable price point
- Decent quality despite pricing
- Highly durable
- Aggressive adhesive makes it hard to work with
- Thick structure takes extra work for contours
The quality and durability put Avery among leading brands. The patented adhesive and highly desirable finish quality put this 375 square-foot roll in a league of its own.
- Patented adhesive eases installation
- High-quality construction
- Exceptional durability
- Highly desirable finish
- Easy to overheat
- Receiving old stock is somewhat common
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Vinyl Wraps Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected The Products
There are a lot of options when it comes to vinyl wraps, but there's also room for a lot of things to go wrong. If brands don't use quality vinyl, adhesives, or manufacturing processes, you can wind up with a very poor finished product. Prep and technique are huge parts of the process, but having a quality wrap to start with is equally as important. That's why we took the time to include the brands we know pros work with. After that, we looked at factors such as the popularity of colors and unique packages to make our list.
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing yet on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
We know that our list is heavy on the grayscale, but while those might be super popular colors that look great on anything, it doesn't mean that's what you're looking for. We're not leaving you to the wolves if you're looking for something a little more suiting to your taste. This buying guide will help you get where you need to be!
The best detail you can look to when just getting started is the brand that's manufacturing the wrap in the first place. There are a lot of subpar wrap brands you'll want to stay away from as they won't offer the same level of quality wraps as the leaders, despite their claims.
Yes, you know 3M. It played a major role in introducing the world to the Scotch tape brand. With humble beginnings dating back to 1902 in northern Minnesota, 3M has grown to be one of the most recognizable brands in adhesives, and you'll probably find it on any sticky aftermarket part for your car.
With roots extending back to 1935, the Avery Dennison name has long been a go too for vehicle wraps and graphics. Its presence can be found in agricultural and industrial settings alongside commercial vehicles, as it's known for producing some of the best wraps available.
With 30 years of experience, Vvivid is one of the more recognizable names in the world of car wraps. The Montreal-based company has proven itself to be a dependable supplier, and its distribution center in Champlain, N.Y., helps folks across the country get their hands on it.
Picking out vinyl wraps is heavily dependent on personal taste, making it hard for us to go much further with this buying guide. However, if you stick to the better names, you should make out just fine. Before we call it quits, though, we do have a few more quick tips to share with you!
Good Paint First
Like paint, vinyl does need a good base to stick to. It will adhere best to a thoroughly cleaned and prepped paint job. If your existing paint job is heavily damaged, it’s better to have it repainted as the vinyl might not stick to it properly.
Practice is Essential
If you're working with vinyl for the first time, you might not want to start by attempting to wrap an entire car. Even if it's faster than painting your car, it's not as simple as slapping a sticker on. We suggest getting something to sample and learning how to work it on various surfaces because there are special techniques and practices you need to get down before attempting to take on massive projects.
Get the Right Equipment
Painting a car gets expensive when you throw in a good gun, air compressor, booth, and finishing supplies. Laying vinyl doesn't require quite as much, but you don't want to skimp on tools. It’s definitely worth spending a little extra money on good squeegees, heat guns, and cutting blades.
You definitely have some questions bouncing around in your head. We might not be able to give you the answer to the meaning of life, but we can try to clear up some things on car wraps. To do that, we're going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about car wraps.
Q. How long do car wraps last?
Car wraps can last around five to seven years, though it really depends on how you do things and the quality of the wrap you're using. If you cheap out and rush through the job, it probably won't stick around for long. It’s worth the extra money and time if you want to stretch your investment.
Q. Does wrapping a car ruin paint?
Yes and no. If the paint beneath is in good condition, you shouldn't run into any issues when putting wrap over it. In fact, it can protect a good paint job. If, however, the paint was already chipping and scratched up, the vinyl might remove loose layers when you pull it off.
Q. Can you pressure wash a wrapped car?
Yes, you can pressure wash a wrapped car as long as you are careful. Keep pressure below 2,000 PSI, avoid narrow-angle nozzles, and keep water temperatures cool. Also, be careful not to spray directly at any surfaces where the vinyl meets the paint, as you can ruin the bond.
Q. Can you wax a car wrap?
That depends on the manufacturer. Some do not recommend using wax or a similar coating, as it may ruin the finish. Others are welcoming to it. It's worth reading what the manufacturer suggests on care and protection of the coating to determine what you can and cannot do to it.
Q. Can I clear coat over a car wrap?
You can lay a clear coat over your vinyl wrap if you're looking for optimal protection. However, it's important to do it correctly. It's best to go to a professional who has experience with the process if this is something you want to be done.
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The Drive seeks to be the internet’s premier destination for news, features, reviews and guides about modern automotive culture.
Founded as the /DRIVE YouTube channel before growing into a full-fledged online publication in 2015, The Drive brings you the best of what’s new in the world of speed, from gear reviews to the latest industry coverage—all from a veteran team of writers and editors with many decades of combined hands-on experience. Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.