So, can graphics be applied over body damage? A couple of years ago Gary Meunier, TKO National Account Manager, and I took a road trip to eastern Indiana to look at an antique British double decker bus. We went because graphics were being considered for the bus. It was an education for me. Gary inspected the bus top to bottom; he looked under the vehicle, on top, and all around. He attached a piece of tape to a spot behind the fender, and before we left he removed it. A little paint came off with it—not a good sign. Back to the question. Yes, the body of any vehicle needs to be in good condition before being considered for vehicle graphics.

You Can’t Hide the Truth

There’s a misconception that vehicle graphics, especially a full wrap, can “hide” damage to a vehicle’s body. Minor damage such as fading and very small scratches may be covered and concealed, but not damage. Rust, dents, scrapes, bends, and bows will all show through the graphics and cause problems. Think about the tape Gary applied to the old bus, if tape pulled off paint what do think would happen if adhesive vehicle graphics were applied? We informed the bus owners it needed extensive body work before any thought of graphics could be entertained.

It’s Not Recommended

One of the most used and highest quality adhesive vinyl’s in the marketplace is 3M 1080 Series Adhesive Vinyl Film.

“1080 Series wrap is recommended for new or reconditioned cars. Ideal candidates for 3M’s 1080 vehicle wrap film are luxury, sports cars, exotics and track cars.  Older vehicles that have dents, scratches, rust and other damage may be visible through the wrap. These defects may cause the wrap to look bad. 3M’s warranty only covers vehicles that have an excellent paint to substrate bond.  Vehicles with clear coat issues, scratches and dents will need to be sanded and prepped before it is wrapped.”  – All about 3M 1080 Vehicle Wrap Film

Can Graphics Be Applied Over Body Damage?

Just as Gary informed the owners of the bus the first step was to repair the damage, that’s where all vehicle graphics begin—substrate preparation. Vinyl graphics won’t fix a damaged body nor will they hide the damage. Before any vehicle graphics can be considered the condition of the body must be brought up to standards. If you’d like to learn more or have your fleet inspected let us know. We’ll give you our “unconditional” opinion.

Photo by Dave Bleasedale / CC BY-SA