Last week, I received a call regarding the care of vehicle graphics. Since the lifespan of vinyl graphics is affected by exposure to outdoor elements, this is a very important subject. I know it is very unlikely and unimaginable that a vehicle can stay in a protected bubble…all the time, but there are ways to keep window and vehicle lettering or graphics looking their best while being exposed to outdoor elements.
Starting with rear window graphics, the rear window wipers can have an affect on the graphic or lettering; however, to prevent any damage the wiper blade should be maintained. When storing the vehicle, it is ideal to keep it in a garage or any other shaded area…however, this is impossible at all times. To prevent any potential issues from not having the vehicle covered, consider having UV over-laminate as an option when obtaining graphics.
Like any other vehicle without vinyl graphics, the vehicle will get dirty but take into consideration the practices that are recommended in keeping the graphics clean. Do not power-wash the graphics as this may lift the vinyl. Do not use a brush car wash, as this will possibly leave scratches in the vinyl. The best recommendation is to hand wash the graphics. However, if time is a restraint, a brushless car wash can be used, provided that there are no thin stripes or delicate letters, as they may lift off the vehicle. To help prevent the vinyl rom lifting due to environmental exposure or cleaning, 3M offers an edge sealer product.
When hand washing the vehicle, there are certain recommended cleaning solutions that are specified for vinyl graphics. These include but are not limited to 3M™ Car Wash Soap 39000, Meguiar’s NXTGeneration® Car Wash, Deep Crystal® Car Wash, Isopropyl Alcohol and water at a ratio of 2:1, or Simple Green™ All Purpose Cleaner. When rinsing, do not rub aggressively at the edges of the vinyl and keep the hose nozzle at least 1 foot away from and 90 degrees to the graphic so as not to force water under the vinyl.