How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Car?

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How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Car?

If you want your car to show more personality, a new color scheme might be just what it needs. It's good to know how much the project would cost before you make any alterations. Car wrap prices vary depending on many factors — some relate to the material costs, and others are about the type of vehicle you drive.

If you want to install a high-quality wrap, you will nearly always pay more, but how much more can differ. Learn about the cost of a car wrap and the factors related to car wrap prices below!

What Is a Car Wrap?

A car wrap is a large vinyl film that covers the body of your vehicle and looks like a new paint job. An auto technician can apply the vinyl directly to the vehicle's clean, painted surfaces, or you can put on the vinyl yourself. A wrap can change the color of your vehicle, add unique touches or decorate the body with designs or graphics.

You can choose the material, color, and finish of your wrap or have a custom design print made. The wrap is fully removable. When used as directed, it will protect the paint underneath. You can redo it as many times as you want, ideal if you own your car or your lease agreement lets you modify your vehicle.

The Benefits of Wrapping a Car vs. Painting a Car

The Benefits of Wrapping a Car vs. Painting a Car

Auto owners who care about the look of their ride might want to go bolder or make a simple color change. You can achieve the look you want with a road-grade vinyl wrap or a new paint job. Car wraps are useful because they:

  • Take less time to apply: A quality repaint of your vehicle generally takes longer than installing a wrap because it requires several coats of paint.
  • Are temporary: New paint is a permanent change to a vehicle. Vinyl wraps are easy to remove and leave the paint underneath intact, so you can change the vinyl wrap or restore the vehicle to its original paint.
  • Are durable: Even though vinyl is a temporary application, a wrap can last for several years if you care for your car and maintain the coating well.
  • Are customizable: You can easily print your choice of graphics, images and even text on a wrap. Work of the same quality with paint requires an artistic touch and is significantly more expensive.
  • Advertise your brand: A wrap can be a profitable marketing investment. They are memorable and effective as advertising tools.
  • Require less maintenance: Compared with a freshly painted car, vinyl requires less maintenance, although keeping it clean is still ideal.
  • Protect the exterior: A wrap offers an additional layer of protection for the original paint, protecting your car from scrapes and bumps. 
  • Are weatherproof: Water slides off vinyl, and dirt and grime are easy to clean up. A new coat of paint behaves just like the original coat.

Factors That Affect Wrap Costs

The cost to wrap a vehicle varies depending on shop fees, the materials needed and the vehicle's features. Vinyl wraps come in sheets. Each wrap is carefully cut into a unique shape rather than a one-size-fits-all job, meaning these factors influence wrap costs:

1. The Size and Complexity of Your Vehicle

The material costs are greater when you have a large vehicle to wrap. Intricate details may also increase the cost, as you or a professional will need to cut the vinyl appropriately.

Some vehicles are more complex in structure, making them more of a challenge to wrap. For example, removing the bumpers on certain models can be difficult or require special tools. Other models are very simple and take less time to wrap properly. Wrapping a two-door sports car is generally more affordable than a four-door sedan of nearly the same size.

If your car has a curvy body, four doors or panels with sharp creases, the process might require more work. This could influence your quote for a service charge.

2. The Condition of Your Vehicle

When applied correctly, the wrap protects the surface without damaging the paint or framework once you're ready to remove it. If your vehicle is in poor condition, it might cost more to wrap or rewrap because it will take more effort.

The car's condition affects how well the wrap looks and performs. It might surprise you to see problem areas like deep scratches and dents are still noticeable after wrapping a car that needs bodywork. Severe corrosion and flaking paint can prevent the vinyl from sticking. As a result, some shops will recommend you get the exterior repaired before the wrap goes on.

An auto customization shop is sometimes unable to offer a warranty on a wrap if the paint is visibly oxidized or peeling. Even if you wrap the car yourself, the vinyl may not last as long on damaged paint as it should.

3. The Brand of Vinyl

Although vinyl brands are fairly uniform in cost, some cost more than others. Companies that produce vinyl films include Rwraps™, 3M™, Avery Dennison® and ORACAL®. For example, some premium matte wraps from 3M™ or Rwraps™ cost less than ORACAL®.

You can usually find a good deal for a specific pattern or finish if you compare brands in a shop that carries several. If you want a rare pattern, you'll have to pay for what's available.

The Wrap's Color

4. The Wrap's Color

Wraps come in a variety of colors — just like paint. You can even order a metallic or chrome option. Certain color options require complex computer printing and are harder to produce, making them more costly to buy. For example, if you want a neon look, it will cost more than a neutral color option.

5. The Wrap's Finish

Vinyl wraps come in matte, gloss or satin, and some have special properties that make them slightly more expensive. The finish with the highest price tag is holographic. Reflective wraps are also more expensive than standard colors.

6. The Surface Area

You can apply the wrap to each panel of your vehicle, including the hood, bumper, doors, roof, fenders and decklid. If you only want certain parts of the car wrapped — like the hood and bumper only — your cost will be lower than a wrap for the entire body. A complete wrap can cover the entire car and looks like a fresh paint job when complete.

7. The Graphics

Manufacturers design images for your vehicle wrap on a computer and print them directly onto the vinyl material. You can order vinyl printed to look like carbon fiber or other special materials. Although these are more expensive to print, they are more affordable than the real thing.

With the right technology, you can make your car look like it's made from just about anything. Commercial auto owners often wrap vehicles to display advertisements. 

8. Preparation

Before you have the wrap applied, it's important to wash your car. The paint surface needs to be as smooth as possible for the vinyl to adhere. Depending on how much you want to spend on preparation, you can go to a car wash or have it detailed before installing the wrap.

After cleaning the car, the next step is to remove certain parts like the bumper covers, headlights or taillights. This way, you can fit the vinyl snugly around all edges. You can apply a wrap without removing any panels, but the application will be of better quality if you take this step.

How Much Does Wrapping Your Car Cost?

For a small vehicle with two doors, the starting cost to get a wrap job professionally installed is around $2,000. Large coupes, such as Ford Mustangs, and small trucks, SUVs and vans are around $3,500 and up to wrap. 

If you want a special texture or graphic — a carbon-fiber vinyl, for example — the price will increase. For a chrome wrap, the price range could begin at around $6,000. For an exotic wrap with a challenging application, you could pay upward of $10,000. 

If you want to remove a wrap professionally, it costs around $500. However, if the wrap fused to the surface of your paint from improper installation or maintenance, removal may cost more.

Professional Car Wrap Costs

Expect to pay more when you go to a professional auto shop for your wrap job. Coupes and other compact cars can cost around $2,000 to wrap, whereas luxury and high-end vehicles can cost upwards of $7,000. Sedans, small SUVs, crossovers and full-size SUVs and trucks usually cost somewhere in the middle of those two values, between $3,000 and $4,000. 

DIY Car Wrap Costs

A DIY car wrap can cost around $500 in standard vinyl, but if you want a more expensive type of vinyl, you could pay around $900 for the same square footage. It's a good idea to buy more vinyl than you think you might need in case you make a mistake.

With peel-and-stick vinyl, you can remove a strip of vinyl if you run into an application error. Vinyl is easiest to remove if it's newly applied.

How Hard Is It to Wrap Your Own Car?

The higher costs of shops make some auto enthusiasts decide to apply the vinyl without professional assistance. Although wrapping your own car might seem like an easy process, it is a very involved task. Wrapping your car requires patience and attention to detail.

what to consider when wrapping your own car

Here's what to consider when wrapping your own car: 

  • Its make and model: This can help you figure out how much vinyl you need to order.
  • The complexity of the model's design: It takes longer to wrap a model with a lot of curves.
  • Custom bodywork: The additional angles and creases can make a wrap job more intricate when the car has had aftermarket bodywork. 
  • The application area: If you only want to wrap certain features, you will need to get the right dimensions, but it can make the job go quicker. 

Professional Shop Installs vs. DIY Installs

There are pros and cons to getting a professional shop job and DIY vinyl installation. 

Pros and Cons of Going to the Shop

Getting your car professionally wrapped has the following pros and cons:

  • Pros: Professional installers can remove car parts for complex jobs and will likely make fewer mistakes than a novice installer. 
  • Cons: Your wrap job will cost more, and your location will influence shop costs. 

Pros and Cons of a DIY Wrap Job

When you wrap your car yourself, you might experience these pros and cons: 

  • Pros: The entire process is more affordable, and you have more control over the result. 
  • Cons: You may have to buy special tools, and you will likely need to purchase extra vinyl to take care of mistakes. 

Other Costs of Wrapping a Car

If you plan to install a wrap yourself, you need to order the material and have the right tools for the job. Below is a comprehensive list of everything you will need to buy:

  • Safety gloves
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray water bottle
  • Auto surface cleaner
  • FleXtreme micro-squeegee for vinyl
  • Measuring tape
  • Heat gun
  • Precision blade
  • Clay bar
  • Snitty Knife for vinyl
  • Masking tape and cutting tape
  • Tweezers

Care Requirements for Auto Wraps

To get the most of your money, you need to know how to care for your auto wrap. Most vinyl wraps have a lifespan of about five years, but they have the potential to last even longer. Depending on weather conditions where you live, you might need to work a little harder to keep your wrap in good condition.

Weather conditions that can affect your new wrap include:

  • High temperatures: Sunlight and high temperatures can cause vinyl to warp or affect its adhesive.
  • Windy conditions: The wind can blow debris onto your car and wear on the edges of the vinyl.
  • Snow and ice: Cold conditions and rock salt are hard on vinyl. Use a car cover to protect your wrap in these conditions.

To care for your vinyl car wrap:

  • Avoid automatic car washes: The rigid brushes in drive-thru car washes are harsh on vinyl and new paint jobs. Hand washing your new wrap is better.
  • Be careful with jet washers: Hold the spray nozzle at a distance instead of standing close to the vinyl when washing your car. High water pressure can create ripples in a vinyl wrap.

Get the Materials You Need for Your Wrap With Rvinyl

Why pay a premium when you can install your own wrap? Make your car wrap a personal experience with durable and affordable vinyl materials from Rvinyl. Our peel-and-stick vinyl films have long lifespans and stay in quality condition with little maintenance. Contact us to learn more about our products, or order now.

Get the Materials You Need for Your Wrap With Rvinyl