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  • Wrap Failure or not?

    Posted by Tim Hobbs on April 23, 2023 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Guys

    Can I get your opinion on this one?

    Completed a wrap this Friday (late) on an Audi S6.
    Lovely car – the customer wanted it wrapped in Satin Black.

    We decided upon Avery Premium Colour Change.
    Took me all week to do it. Ended up almost happy. One exception was that the customer changed the spec on Monday morning (as they do) to having a previous wrap removed from the mirrors, roof rails and the trims around the windows. This was done by another company (no idea who) with gloss black.

    When I removed this vinyl I found that not only was there a lot of 3M primer hanging around (ugh!) but also, these parts of the car were unpainted aluminium.
    I expressed that I wasn’t entirely happy about this because I found that the vinyl was not adhering as hard as I would have liked to those areas.
    We decided to go ahead, however, and when I had finished the car and post-heated the heck out of it I thought that seemed to be holding up OK.

    The customer then drove off on Friday evening with all the usual warnings about letting the car settle a bit before washing etc.
    I then got the attached photo late on Saturday ( the customer had tracked me down on my personal FB account to give me the bad news )
    So obviously I responded with. “Don’t worry” we’ll put it right” come in and see us when you can” What else could I say?

    Chapter 2

    One of my (younger) work colleagues discovered this morning that the customer had taken the vehicle on Saturday afternoon (yesterday) to have it ceramic
    coated. He had posted a video on Instagram showing the process with another local firm.

    He had not informed us that this was going to happen.
    He has then obviously gone tearing about in the rain on Saturday night and part of the whole thing has failed.

    So. I don’t know much about ceramic coating but I have learned a bit in the last few hours.

    Does anyone think that:

    1. There should have been at least a day or two before he had the coating applied over our wrap.

    2. That he should have allowed a lot longer for the ceramic coating to cure before taking the car out in the rain. I’ve read conflicting advice on the timing of that but the very least I could find was 48 hours and that anything wet can be a killer for the coating without a good curing period.

    3. Are we in fact covered here because he has in effect “tampered” with the finish much too soon and without asking us for advice – as I said we had no prior knowledge of the ceramic coating being planned and in fact at this point he still hasn’t informed us that it has even been done.

    At the end of the day – he’s a nice guy and I have no problem with replacing that small strip if that is all that goes wrong with it, I’m just now worried about the integrity of the entire wrap.

    Grateful for any thoughts on this.


    Phill Fenton replied 1 year, 1 month ago 5 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • RobertLambie

    April 23, 2023 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Tim

    I think this is one of those jobs where we need to take on the chin and learn from it, mate.
    Was it the primer, the surface or whatever… did the coating process after the installation make it much worse, the list of possible reasons will add up, but you will never truly know the reason for the failure.

    Primer residue is never good and only indicates the previous wrapper used crap material or that the surface was giving him problems too, so he saw the need to use the primer to enhance the bond. Again, it is a guessing game.

    I advise a week in warm/hot weather or two-three weeks in cold, wet weather, to allow for “material bonding”. That means no real driving exposure in severe weather, or washing it with a pressure washer, car wash etc. just do nothing for a fortnight.
    Yes, wrapping in a warm room is expected, post-heating and all else, is expected. But you cannot and should not take a warm car out the door into cold or extremely wet weather and expect there to be no adjustments to the material bonding and settling onto the surface of the vehicle.

    lifting can happen to the best of us. The customer must know that as soon as they see what they think is a failing area of vinyl. they must bring the car back in as soon as possible. reality is, no material will go back down, even if it can, it shouldn’t. just lift and replace. however, the longer the customer leaves this, the less likely you are going to be able to understand what actually caused the failure, for your own peace of mind.

    Applying anything, never mind a ceramic coating, should never have been done.
    Same reasons as above, don’t wash the car and all else to allow a bond. so NO, they should not be doing this either. I am no expert in coating what, so ever, but the bottom line is they are applying a chemical or whatever and then buffing it to a super shine for protection or whatever.
    What’s to say they have not used an orbital buffer, caught a corner of the vinyl and whipped a section of vinyl up? The detailer re-applies the vinyl and it looks OK.
    Out the lad goes in the cold wet night and the drag from the wind and the rain makes the vinyl lift and come back in the wind. The problem now becomes yours!

    The best advice I can give is to learn from it and prevent this from happening again.
    I would type up a simple word document A4 and just list do’s and don’ts after a van or car has been picked up after graphics or wraps have been applied.
    Always “exaggerate” the issues that can occur and the time window they can happen within. because if you state 2 weeks, you know they will start washing it in 1 week.
    Save the document and attach it to any invoice you give by email and print off fifty A4 terms and conditions to sit the sheet on their dashboard for them to see when uplifting. personally, I would get a signature on uplift, that everything is spot on and they have received their terms and conditions.

    I know this sounds like a bit of a ballache, but it looks more professional from the customer’s view and it covers you for this type of possible future scenario.

  • Tim Hobbs

    April 24, 2023 at 6:11 am

    Thanks Rob. Sound advice as always. We do have a list of ts and cs but only on the website.

    I like the idea of a condensed “Dos and dont’s” for the dashboard.

    Hopefully it will just be that one section that’s lifted. I’ve tried to get him in this morning to have a look.

  • Hugh Potter

    April 24, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Not wanting to contradict Rob… almost everything he says regarding the wrapping side of things is sound, but I don’t think that the coating is the issue. I rent my spare fitting bay to a detailer, I now offer a package where we machine polish the vehicle (pre-wrap / branding), apply the wrap / branding and then apply ceramic coat with a sponge applicator; buffing with a microfibre cloth once it’s flashed off, typically around 24hrs later, and before it goes back outside, we’ve had no issues; as far as I am aware, through doing this. I know of another company that does ceramic coats on their wraps to offer an additional layer of protection too.

    Point to note: we use a vinyl friendly coating, typically a 1-2 year coating. you can, I believe, use a regular 1-2yr coating on vinyl with no adverse affects..

    Ceramic on paintwork .. a ceramic primer is used which essentially melts the top coat slightly we’re talking nano / microscopic stuff here) so the top coat (single on a 1-2yr, 2 coats on a 5/10yr) bonds better to the paint.

    You must not use this primer on vinyl as it can seep through the vinyl and affect the adhesive… though it may well be ok to do after a period of a few weeks, when the wrap adhesive is properly cured.

    Before admitting any serious liability, see if you can work out what application process went into the ceramic coating, does it specify the make of coating? how many coats etc?

    Personally, I also think the arlon (low grab and tack) on bare metal is an issue, I would re-do it but explain that the arlon of a professional wrap film designed to be installed onto a painted surface, and be removed at some point in the future, with that in mind I would offer our usual 3yr warranty on it.. I wouldn’t apply it to metal / grey primer without using a load of 3M primer at the edges, and only then because it’s a last ditcvh attempt to save the job – like when I stripped a carbon wrapped bonnet and all the paint came with it!!

  • David Hammond

    April 24, 2023 at 11:05 am

    I agree with Rob, take this one on the chin.

    I remember having a meeting with a former President of the BSGA, and something rung true. Buy the cheapest kettle from Argos, you’ll get an instruction book, a warning that it has hot water, and also what guarantee comes with the kettle. I don’t know how much you charged the customer, but it’s always worth giving them something so they know the basics of how to care for it.

    I don’t do car wraps, but looking at that image, it looks like what I’ve seen when customers have got a bit giddy with a jet wash, or the vinyl has gone brittle. I don’t think a ceramic coating would cause that, if it did I would imagine it to be everywhere, not just in that isolated spot.

  • RobertLambie

    April 24, 2023 at 12:11 pm


    You are correct the coatings themself will do nothing but protect the vinyl, mate.
    When we used to do the wrap training on the UKSG Truck we had the Oracal aftercare pack of coatings for Matt etc. on the truck to advise on ways to protect the wrap, as it was just launched.

    However any sort of “wiping” over, cut vinyl graphics with even a soft rag, I do not allow until the vinyl has had a chance to bond. I have seen so many small letters or serifs on a letter being caught by a rag and lifted, torn or dog-eared just by passing over it.
    The same can apply to an exposed edge of a wrap. even more so “an orbital buffer” could easily lift an exposed edge that hasn’t bonded. And in this case, we are talking the very next morning/day.

    I accept that you are talking about a soft microfibre cloth, but that can honestly do just the same damage if you have someone leaning a bit too heavily. granted you will take better care if you wrapped it or applied the graphics. but here, the car has been taken to someone else who will not be as careful.

    As I said, there is no way to really know who is to blame. it is more about reducing the possibility of it happening and ultimately covering your back, should it happen.

  • Phill Fenton

    April 26, 2023 at 8:23 am

    He sounds like a right pain in the @rse. First and foremost tracking you down on your personal facebook account on a Saturday evening almost amounts to harrasment. He should have contacted you via your business page, website, or whatever, not your personal page.

    Last minute changes? Hmm I hope you charged him extra for the extra work involved?

    And not telling you about the ceramic coating – He’s keeping you in the dark and not being totally honest about it all.

    What would I do? If it’s a simple fix to replace the strip that’s come away then go ahead and do it FOC. But if the entire wrap starts to fail, (and I assume you are experienced enough to know if you had done it right) you’ll know he’s caused the issues himself so I would not be accepting responsibility

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