How Much Does It Cost To Wrap A Car?

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If you’re thinking about wrapping your car, truck, van, or golf cart, there are a lot of different things to consider. As you'll learn in this article, there's many things that determine the cost to wrap a car.

Quick Facts About Wrapping a Car

If you need to refresh a worn paint job to sell or trade in your car, protect a new car finish, or simply want a new look, vinyl wrapping your car, truck, or SUV is a relatively affordable solution. Compared to buying a new vehicle or getting a high-quality paint job, wrapping your vehicle is often less expensive. Plus, without close inspection, it can be difficult to tell that it’s a wrap and not a new paint job or factory finish.

While wrapping a vehicle is more affordable than buying new or painting, it still costs money. How much does it cost? Well, that depends on a number of factors that affect the cost of wrapping a vehicle. Let’s explore those.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Car?
  • Pros and Cons of Wrapping a Car
  • How To Extend The Life Of Your Car Wrap
  • Is There a More Affordable Alternative to Vinyl Wrap?
  • Is Vinyl Car Wrap Worth It?

How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Car?

If you want to estimate the cost of a fully wrapped vehicle, you need to start with the vehicle type, vehicle size, complexity of installation, and the type of wrap desired to get a close estimated total price.

Car Wrap Finishes

Car wrap manufacturers offer wraps in various finishes, which can affect the cost of the vinyl. While some vinyl wrap makers place certain finishes into subcategories, here are the most common vinyl finishes from which you can pick.

  • Gloss: The closest finish to most factory paints, gloss is shiny. Subcategories include metallic gloss and high gloss.
  • Matte: Emphasizing a vehicle’s contours and styling cues, a matte finish is flat rather than glossy.
  • Luster or Satin: This finish falls somewhere in between gloss and matte. It still shows off a vehicle’s contours but with a bit of shine and sparkle.
  • Color-Shift: Basically falling under the gloss umbrella, color-shift wraps appear to change colors when viewed from different angles.
  • Carbon Fiber: Real carbon fiber adds a bit of texture to a vehicle’s typically smooth finish while weighing less than the sheet metal it replaces. A carbon fiber wrap provides the illusion of those performance pieces at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

What Impacts Car Wrap Cost?

There are a wide range of factors within each vehicle type that impacts price because the cost to wrap your specific vehicle depends on the vehicle and the choices you make. With that being said, multiple factors impact the cost of wrapping a specific type of vehicle.

  • Make And Model Vehicle: One of the biggest factors that impact how much you’ll pay for a vehicle wrap is the make and model of the vehicle. For example, you should expect to pay less for wrapping a Tesla because it has large smooth areas versus having a new Ford Mustang wrapped due to all the stylish angles. 
  • Car Wrap Coverage: The coverage on your vehicle wrap can impact cost. It varies depending on the exact wrap you get, such as a full vehicle wrap or a partial wrap. For example, you may decide to only wrap the hood.
  • Labor Cost: Where regional variations in the cost of wrapping a car exist, more likely than not those variations are due to the regional costs of labor. It makes sense that in areas with a higher cost of living, like San Francisco, labor will cost more than in regions with a lower cost of living, like Charleston, West Virginia. In the majority of cases, wrap installation is charged by the square foot, rather than by the hour.

Pros & Cons of Wrapping a Car

There are plenty of reasons to pick wrapping a car over painting one. However, car wraps aren’t all lollipops and unicorns. There are some downsides, too.

What Are Some Pros of Car Wrapping

  • Wide range of colors to choose from
  • Many designs and graphics to choose from
  • Does protect your car’s paint job
  • More affordable than painting
  • Don’t need to wax your wrap
  • Easy to remove if needed

What Are Some Cons of Car Wrapping

  • Vehicle wrap’s life expectancy is often no more than seven years
  • Can cost a fair amount of money to get done
  • Challenging to hide scratches, dents, and dings
  • Difficult to do on your own or without the right tools 
  • A car’s surface must be pristine clean before wrap application

How To Extend The Life Of Your Car Wrap

If you’ve invested in vehicle wraps, you'll want them to last as long as possible. By following a few key steps, you can extend the lifespan of your car wrap. While most experts agree that a well-maintained wrap typically lasts fewer than seven years, we’ve seen some vehicle wraps last for over two decades.

What can you do to enhance the lifespan of your car or truck wrap, ultimately maximizing your investment? Here’s what we recommend.

  • General Maintenance - Ultraviolet light, temperature extremes, and dirt are all enemies of vinyl vehicle wraps. Obviously, nobody gets a vehicle wrap just to leave the car inside a garage year-round, so it’s going to get exposed to the sun. You can mitigate that by trying to park the vehicle indoors or under shade.
  • Keep It Clean - Make sure you keep your wrap clean. Don’t allow bug guts, tree sap, bird poop, and other toxic matter to go unattended. They can eat away at the vinyl wrap just like they do to car paint.
  • Washing Your Wrap - Hand washing using a gentle PH-neutral car cleaning soap is best for your regular washing regimen.
  • Never Wax Your Wrapped Vehicle - Many car waxes contain abrasives that can damage vinyl car wraps. They are best avoided.
  • Minimize Intense Sunlight Exposure - Vinyl wrap can’t be waxed; consequently, constant exposure to intense direct sunlight will cause fading. 
  • Safe Storage - If you have a garage for your vehicle, make use of it. Anything that can provide shelter from the sun and weather will prolong your car wrap.
  • Clean Off Salt - If you live in Minnesota, you already know how tough the winters get, the same can be said about many states. Keep the salt off your wrap!

Is There a More Affordable Alternative to Vinyl Wrap?

There are a few different materials that can be used if you don’t want to get a vinyl wrap.

If your goal is to protect the paint finish, paint protective film (PPF) may be an option you want to consider. PPF is a more affordable and effective alternative to vinyl wraps. It also provides the same UV protection and scratch resistance as vinyl wrap but at a lower cost. While clear PPF is the most popular option, matte finish PPF is also available.

Is Vinyl Car Wrap Worth It?

Vinyl is one of the most common materials that are used for car wraps. Vinyl car wraps are a great choice for anyone who wants to change a car’s color, or want to hide fading or damaged paint. 

Protecting your car helps you maintain its value. Although vinyl wrap won’t outlast a good paint job, the cost savings are significant. If your goal is to simply protect your car’s finish, we’d choose an aftermarket, professionally applied ceramic coating or paint protection film or a combination of PPF and ceramic coating.

Next Steps For Wrapping A Car

Now that you know the costs involved in wrapping a vehicle, are you still interested in getting a car wrap? If so, SOULO can help. Our experienced team has wrapped hundreds of vehicles over the years. Feel free to check out some of our work here.

SOULO is a full-service marketing and communications agency that helps client partners get the most from their projects through signageprinting, and digital marketing. Ready to get started? Contact us today!


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