Can you take your wrapped vehicle through a car wash? If the car wash uses brushes we wouldn’t recommend it. However, keeping your wrapped car or truck clean is important. The longer dirt, road debris, and other contaminants stay on your vehicle, the harder they are to remove, and the more likely they are to damage the finish of your vehicle. Here’s some advice about taking your wrapped vehicle through a car wash and washing it in general.
Can I Take My Wrapped Vehicle Through a Car Wash?
What to Do and What Not to Do
- Do NOT use automated car washes with brushes as they may damage the wrap. Most brushless car washes are acceptable.
- When hand washing, use a non-abrasive soft liquid soap and rinse thoroughly.
- Power washing is OK, but should be limited to 2000 PSI, and nozzles should be held at least one foot back at a perpendicular angle. Power washing at an angle can lift the edges of decals.
- For those hard to clean stains, such as insect splatter, tree tar, and bird droppings, soak the area in very hot soapy water for several minutes before cleaning the area.
- Wipe fuel spills immediately, as they can damage the vinyl and adhesive if left unattended.
By following a few basic guidelines you can protect your vehicle from the ravages of dirt, grime, road debris, insect bits, bird droppings, and harsh chemicals without exposing your wrap to cleaning methods that can damage the adhesive vinyl of the wrap such as taking your wrapped vehicle through a car wash with brushes.
How Important is it to Keep Your Wrapped Vehicle Clean?
Regardless that a clean car or truck is more pleasant to drive, a wrap can be damaged by pollutants and grime left to fester. Here’s what international adhesive vinyl manufacturer 3M had to say on the subject.
• Wash whenever the car appears dirty. Contaminants allowed to remain on the graphic may be more
difficult to remove during cleaning.
• Rinse off as much dirt and grit as possible with a spray of water.
• See “Difficult Contaminants” on page 1, for spot cleaning bird droppings, tar, etc.
• Use a wet, non-abrasive detergent such as 3M™ Car Wash Soap 39000 or Meguiar’s NXT Generation® Car Wash or Deep Crystal® Car. Wash and a soft, clean cloth or sponge.
• Rinse thoroughly with clean water. To reduce water spotting, immediately use a silicone squeegee to remove water and finish with a clean microfiber cloth.”
So, can you take your wrapped vehicle through a car wash? The answer is no, yes, and maybe. For more information, we recommend this 3M guide, Caring for Your Vehicle Graphics and Wraps [PDF]. And, if you want your 53 foot semi-tractor trailers washed by someone who knows what they’re doing, we can help you at our six bay, 40-acre facility. Just Let us know. We’d love to help you keep a clean image.
TKO Graphix is a national fleet and vehicle graphics company helping customers since 1985. We provide full-service graphic design, digital printing, screen printing, graphics installation, and removal of large format graphics.
We’re a fleet and vehicle graphics company and since 1985, we’ve been helping businesses, large and small, brand their fleet of tractor-trailers, service trucks and company vehicles. Whether you have a fleet of thousands or a few vehicles, we are here to lead you through the vehicle branding process.
TKO Graphix is a Certified 3M™ MCS™ Warranty graphics manufacturer. Our installation crews are 3M Certified and are employees of TKO Graphix, not sub-contractors. If you’d like to learn more and get a free quote, contact us today.
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