Can You Wax a Car That Has Been Wrapped?

Can You Wax a Car That Has Been Wrapped?

Keeping your car looking brand new and shiny is a big job! Regular washing and waxing can keep your vehicle in tip-top shape for years to come. After your car has been wrapped – either with a gorgeous matte, satin, or gloss finish or with a full-color design – there are some extra considerations to make sure the car and wrap look their best. A waxed surface is super attractive – but can you wax a car that has been wrapped? There’s no short answer, but here are some tips on how to handle waxing depending on what parts of your car are wrapped.

Avoid Waxing Fully-Wrapped Cars

Especially if your car is wrapped in a matte finish (a great option over painting or otherwise resurfacing your car), avoid waxing it. Many automotive waxes on the market are harmful to vinyl wraps and can cause major problems down the road. Petroleum distillates are particularly harmful to vehicle wraps – and they’re found in many paste waxes popular with car lovers. In fact, the vinyl wrap GOATs at 3M recommend that you don’t use wax or similar coatings on vehicle graphics at all.

There really isn’t a lot of benefit to waxing your vinyl wrap – especially if the wrap covers the entire vehicle. The best way to keep a shiny appearance is to choose a vinyl graphic finish that gives your car the desired effect and adding special coatings during the car wrap process to protect the sheen of your graphics. Then, keep the graphics clean with careful and regular washing to make sure they always look their best.

If you’re dead set and hell-bent on waxing your wrapped car, take extreme care. You should only ever use spray and wash waxes and only on wraps that aren’t matte finish or textured. Be sure to gently wash away any residue, as buildup can cause major issues for your car wrap.

Wax Partially-Wrapped Vehicles with Care

If your car is only partially wrapped or if you have applied decals to your car, wax with care! You should only hand wax the unwrapped portions of your car, taking care to avoid the graphics and especially to avoid lifting any edges in the process. Feel free to wax the painted surfaces of your car, but remove any buildup near the edges of your wrap and from the vinyl itself with soap and water on a non abrasive microfiber cloth.

Once you’ve finished waxing your vehicle, take a close and careful look at the edges of your partial wrap or decals. Make sure they’re free of any buildup and aren’t showing signs of peeling or lifting. Once your wax has set, it’s never a bad idea to give your car another gentle wash to make sure the wax is evenly applied and clear of the graphics on your vehicle.

The Best Waxes to Use with Wrapped Cars

While our friends at 3M decisively recommend not waxing vinyl graphics, there are some products on the market that other manufacturers say won’t hurt your vinyl – and even sometimes recommend. No matter what wax you choose, be sure to avoid wax pastes, especially ones that contain petroleum distillates of any kind. 

The best waxes to use with your wrapped or partially-wrapped vehicle are 3M’s Quick Detailer Spray Wax or Meuiar’s Ultimate Quik Wax. Even when using these premium wax products, take extra care with your vinyl graphics. Wash off any buildup or residue that appears on the vehicle and give it an even spray across the whole car. 

Trust Your Car to the Vinyl Wrap Pros

Whether you’re looking for a new wrap or need to repair or replace your wrap after a wax-gone-wrong disaster, GameTime Wraps is here to help! We’ve installed hundreds of thousands of square feet of vinyl everywhere from food trucks to private vehicles to whole commercial fleets. We can help you envision, design, and apply great graphics to any vehicle! Give us a call today for a free quote.