Have you ever wondered if you can wrap a damaged car? Or if a damaged car can be covered up by vinyl wrap?
Wrapping a car with damage such as scratches, dents, or keys is possible as a way to prevent the car from further damage. However, wrapping a damaged car is not recommended to hide scratches, dents, or keys as these can become even more visible after the car is wrapped. Often damage should be repaired beforehand.
Read on to find out how vinyl wrapping affects scratches, dents, or keys and the cases in which damage should be repaired beforehand.
Wrapping a Scratched Car — Is It Possible?
Most auto body shops and detailing experts seem to be in consensus about the basics of wrapping cars with damage but disagree slightly on some of the semantics.
Generally, it is possible to wrap a scratched car. It can also be a smart decision financially, as the wrap can protect the paint from further damage. On the other hand side, it is not recommended to wrap a scratched car for optical purposes, as the wrap will adhere to the scratch, making it more visible.
Below is a comparison between of answers from the experts:
|Source||Possible to wrap scratched car||Does car wrap hide dents?||Does car wrap hide scratches?||Can you wrap a keyed car?|
|Team Acme||Yes||No||Probably Not||Not Recommended|
|Complex Auto||Yes||No||No, Repairs First||Yes, Wet Sand beforehand|
|Installed Wrap Graphics Inc.||Yes||No||No||n/a|
The general consensus from the experts seems to be that it is possible, or often possible, to wrap a scratched car.
However, the experts also agreed that car wrap does not hide dents.
Most of the experts agreed that car wrap doesn’t hide scratches, at least without repairs first, but Team Acme does make the admission that very small scratches may be able to be hidden with vinyl wrap.
Team Acme also states that most scratches will typically not be able to be hidden by vinyl wrap as they have to be very small to not show up.
Wrapping a keyed car was the most controversial with most of the experts generally saying that it was situational.
Complex Auto did state that wrapping a keyed car was possible as long as it is wet sanded before.
Generally, the detailing experts seem to agree with most of the basics and thought that wrapping a scratched car was possible.
Vinyl wrap adheres to a car’s shape so it will simply settle into the outlines of the scratches on the car upon application.
In the case where damage to a car seriously detracts from the value wrapping a scratched car might not make sense.
The money involved in wrapping a scratched car could be better applied towards repairing and repainting the damage.
Vinyl wrapping is relatively expensive as a professional application averages between $2000 USD and $3500 USD for the typical car.
In addition, damage involving peeling paint chips should not be wrapped as this damage will look particularly bad when vinyl is applied.
Damage involving peeling paint chips will cause the car’s vinyl wrap to bubble up.
This is from the movement of the paint chips peeling underneath and significantly detracts from the aesthetic value of the vinyl wrap.
If you want to know more about how much it costs to wrap a car, make sure to check my in-depth article about it here.
Does Car Wrap Hide Scratches?
Whether or not car wrap hides scratches is a more detailed question than whether or not it is possible to wrap a scratched car.
Often when asking whether or not it’s possible to wrap a scratched car, car owners are asking whether or not car wrap will hide scratches.
Generally, vinyl wrapping in a car does not hide the scratches on the car because the vinyl wrap adheres to the shape of the scratches. This leads to the wrap making the scratch even more noticeable than before.
So how do you tell if a scratch is so bad that it will show through vinyl wrap?
According to Team Acme, a Nevada-based auto glass repair and detailing shop, “In most cases, if you can feel a scratch in your vehicle’s paint, then it will show through a vinyl wrap…”
Generally speaking, a quick way to decide whether or not a scratch can be hidden by vinyl wrap is by running your fingers over the scratch.
If you can feel it, it probably won’t be hidden by vinyl wrap. This is a quick and easy test that most car owners can do at home.
But even if your car has scratches that will show up under vinyl wrap there are options.
Buffing scratches prior to the vinyl wrap is an easy and popular option for car owners who want to wrap their car to hide the scratches.
Buffing can be done as long as the scratch is not too severe.
In the case of scratches that go down to the paint of the car, buffing will affect the paint, but this shouldn’t be an issue if the car is to be covered in vinyl wrap.
Most good, reputable detailing shops should be able to offer repair services in addition to wrapping your car.
Does Car Wrap Hide Dents in the Car?
Generally, a dented car is unlikely to visually benefit from being vinyl wrapped without repair to the dent first. The vinyl wrap is more likely to conform to the shape of the dent than it is to hide it.
In some cases, a vinyl wrap job can even draw more attention to the damage rather than less because it contours so perfectly to the dent.
But it is possible to wrap a car with dents, albeit only if the car owner is okay with the vinyl wrap sticking to the contour of the dent!
It would make sense to vinyl wrap a car with dents if the dents are minor enough that the car owner doesn’t mind if the dents are visible or if the car owner wanted to prevent future damage to the car by vinyl wrapping.
As long as the goal isn’t to hide the dent, vinyl wrapping is a realistic and attainable possibility for a dented car.
Can You Vinyl Wrap a Keyed Car?
Wrapping a keyed car is more complicated than wrapping a dented or scratched car as keying a car will often (but not always) create deeper scratches.
In order to write this article, I read several discussions on various car forums about whether or not it was a good idea to wrap a keyed car.
The answers ranged a lot depending on the long-term goals of the car owner and the severity of the damages.
As a general rule, it is not recommended to wrap a keyed car for optical purposes. The wrap is likely to adhere to the scratch, making it more visible. A keyed area should be repaired before applying car wrap.
Whether vinyl wrapping a keyed car is an effective solution long-term or a cost-effective solution seems to be a relatively controversial topic amongst car enthusiasts.
But if it is down to the metal the best solution is to repaint the entire part of the car as the scratch is likely to corrode, depending on the car’s climate.
After all of the repairs required to fix the keyed area of the car, the car would still need to be wrapped.
At this point, the expenses of the repair are adding up.
Since vinyl wraps only last five years, wrapping a car to cover up a keyed area generally won’t increase the value of the car as much as having it repainted.
If the car in question is going to be sold in the future or owned for more than five years, it would be more cost-effective to pay for a paint job to cover the keyed area.
A vinyl wrap would only be a temporary solution that does not raise the value of the car.
One interesting case in which wrapping a keyed car may make some financial sense is if the area that was keyed is halfway up the car and goes around in a straight line.
In these cases, the keyed area will still need to be repaired to prevent it from being seen through the vinyl, but a racing stripe may be able to be professionally applied for quite a bit less cost.
Professionally, a vinyl wrap can cost between $2000 USD to $3500 USD for the average car but a professionally-applied racing stripe decal usually costs under $1000 USD.
Throughout the Nissan 350/370Z forums, this solution seems to be particularly popular.
As a temporary solution, racing stripe decals could hide the damage after repairs for a lot less upfront cost but still wouldn’t help to recover the initial value of the car.
Overall, wrapping a keyed car seems to be reliant on the specific situation of the car depending on the severity of the damage, the value of the car, and the long-term goals of the car owner.