Two-dimensional design concepts don’t always fit the three-dimensional reality of a vehicle graphic. A 2D design might not consider the angles and body lines of a vehicle. It’s essential to convert a 2D concept to a 3D vehicle graphic design. And it’s critical to understand how problem areas will affect the finished product. When not accounted for in the design these are 10 problem areas that could ruin your vehicle wrap.

Do You Know Where the Problem Areas Are?

Every vehicle has areas that can adversely affect a vehicle graphic design. An inexperienced vehicle graphic designer may miss some of these 10 problem areas that could ruin your vehicle wrap. It only takes one. A design may look perfect on a 2D screen or paper template, but not when installed on an actual vehicle. Letters can disappear at seams, messages can get lost around curves, or an aftermarket add-on could divide a logo.

10 Problem Areas that Could Ruin Your Vehicle Wrap

1. Seams

Seams at doors, hoods, and trunks can cause problems for your vehicle wrap when not taken into consideration. Images can look like they don’t match up, and copy compromised. For example, a capital E at a seam becomes a single line. So, “Elite AC Repair” becomes “lite AC Repair.” You don’t want to send the wrong message. An experienced vehicle graphic designer will take seams into account during the design process.

2. Sliding Doors

You’ve probably seen some of these design disasters on the internet. What happens when you open the door and cut the copy in half? One of my favorites was a Starbucks van that, when the door opened, changed from Starbucks to Sucks. Not exactly an effective marketing message.

3. Windows

When a designer reduces the logo in size to fit an area under a window it might end up too small to recognize from 20 feet away or traveling at 55 MPH. One way to overcome this is to use the windows to the advantage of the design. Read about the possibilities of window graphics, 10 Examples of How to Use Window Graphics to Make Your Vehicle Wrap More Effective

4. Aftermarket Equipment

Aftermarket equipment such as fog lamps, splash guards, tailgate protectors, step bars, and bug shields can impact a vehicle graphic design. Although most aftermarket equipment can be removed and reinstalled, if the equipment isn’t given attention during design, it can disrupt the graphics.

5. Mirrors

If you can remove a mirror during installation, it’s a good idea to do so. Think of it like this. If you were painting a room in your home, would you remove the light switch covers and paint behind them or try to paint around them? However, even if the mirrors are removed, graphics installed, and the mirrors are put back, it can affect how the design looks. Just make sure the mirrors are addressed during the design phase.

6. Wheel Wells

The cut-out of a wheel well can make a design look lost. An image that should flow can look ripped out at the wheel wells like something is missing. The curvature of the well and the lip can also affect the design.

7. Gas Cap

Really? The gas cap? Yes, the gas cap. A gas cap can change a vehicle graphic design or at least get in the way. Even something as small as this can take what looks like an effective design and render it silly. I remember a graphic I saw where a person’s image had the gas cap around their left eye. It wasn’t a pretty sight. It looked like a black eye.

8. Windshield Wipers

Rear windshield wiper blades can loosen the graphic when in use if the edge of the vinyl was improperly placed when installed.

9. Body Lines

Body lines on most vehicles, whether a car, truck, or van, have a flow to them. Not taking the flow of the body lines into account can cause the design to look as if it stops and starts.

10. Curves

Many vehicles such as vans and box trucks aren’t thought of as having curves, but they do. Even a box truck has fenders and a hood with rounded corners. On a full wrap, a designer must think ahead of the curve or risk losing the designs intention.

3 More Vehicle Graphic Design Considerations

Besides the 10 problem areas that could ruin your vehicle wrap, here are three bonus points to consider when designing vehicle graphics. Experienced vehicle graphic designers, such as the TKO Graphix design team, use these design concepts to their advantage.

Give the Design Room to Breathe

Vehicle graphic designers learn to give themselves wiggle room. When taking a 2D design to a 3D application you may need a few extra inches of coverage.


Using an overlay can help the design conform to the flow of the vehicle. An overlay may be necessary sometimes when a design needs to compensate for obstacles such as a window indentation.

Design to Scale 

As 3M states in their article, Get the most out of your vehicle graphics, “If you have a fleet of vehicles that vary in size and type, adjust your message and design accordingly. A design that works well for your trailer may not work well for your delivery van. Scaling and tailoring your design according to the vehicle application enhances the aesthetics and effectiveness of your graphics.”

Don’t Let Problem Areas Become a Problem

If you don’t want the problem areas on your vehicles to become a vehicle wrap problem, there’s an easy answer. Hire a professional vehicle graphic design team. Consider this, of the 10 problem areas that could ruin your vehicle wrap, how many had you ever thought about? Unfortunately, many inexperienced graphic designers don’t think about these 10 problem areas that could ruin your vehicle wrap either.

If we can answer any questions about vehicle graphics, or any other questions you have, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

TKO Graphix is a national fleet and vehicle graphics company helping customers since 1985. We provide full-service graphics solutions such as design, digital printing, screen printing, installation and removal of fleet graphics, vehicle graphics, and commercial graphics.


If you’d like to read more about vehicle graphic design, try this, 6 Keys to Fleet Graphic Design