Wrapping A Rusty Car: Should You Do It?

In recent years, car owners have been using car wraps to change the style of their vehicles. Using vinyl wraps to cover the damages and the rust of your car might be a tempting option. But, should you do it?

Car wrapping is not a solution for rusty cars. The rust compromises the integrity of the car even when covered with vinyl panels. Car wrapping will trap humidity between the wrap and the vehicle, thus spreading the rust throughout the surface and worsening the situation.

Car wrapping can be a stylish alternative for your car, but using it on rusty surfaces can cause more problems. There are some essential things to discuss. Stay with me! In this post, I will analyze all of them thoroughly.

Why You Shouldn’t Wrap A Rusty Car

Wrapping a rusty car would cause the rust to continue spreading underneath the vinyl panels, thus compromising the integrity of the vehicle. Instead of fixing the rust, a car wrap would just worsen the overall status of the surface. Furthermore, vinyl wraps cannot stick to rust.

When a car is wrapped, moisture and contaminants are trapped between the vinyl panels and the car surface. These conditions would cause the rust to extend without you being able to notice it. If this is the case, you will just harm your car while trying to hide the rust.

Rust cannot be hidden. This problem needs to be addressed before it further compromises the overall integrity of the car. Unattended rust can lead to graver problems in the long run. It is better to avoid these problems by having the rust repaired at once. 

Furthermore, the vinyl panels will suffer to stick to the damaged surfaces of the car. If you tried to put the vinyl wrap on rusty areas, the adhesive would not attach properly. The result would be a sloppy job and a waste of money. 

No matter how hard you want to get that rust out of sight, the problem won’t disappear alone. Trying to stick vinyl to the unsmooth surface of a rusty car would only make you lose your time and threaten your beloved ride. 

If you ever managed to get the wraps to stick, then you could be looking at an even worst outcome. When the time to remove the wrapping came, you would find a destroyed surface underneath it. 

I would strongly recommend you not to wrap your car if it has rusty areas.

Can Car Wrapping Prevent Rust?

Car wrapping can provide a protective layer to the car surface, preventing contaminants from causing rust. Since there is no direct contact of the exterior with any rust-causing element, vinyl wraps could offer protection. Yet, car wraps cannot prevent rust in the underneath parts of the vehicle.

Vinyl wraps could do nothing to prevent already existing rust. If that is the case, vinyl wraps should not be put there in the first place. For pristine surfaces, vinyl wraps can offer a layer of protection.

Since the vinyl wrap will cover the surface of the car, there won’t be any contaminants or rust-causing elements reaching it. By having all those elements away from the exterior, rust will have a hard time appearing. 

Some of the most common rust-causing elements are rain and salt.

In some states and cities, salt is used to melt the snow from the roads. Unfortunately, the remnants of that salt are harmful to your car. 

When the salt attaches to the exterior, it can start compromising the paintwork and metal integrity. For that reason, it is crucial to remove it as soon as possible. 

With vinyl wraps, this problem disappears. There is no chance of that salt having direct contact with the surface of the car. 

Rain is the other element to consider. Of course, mild rain from time to time will not cause any irreparable damage to your car. However, heavy rains for long periods of time could harm the metal and cause rust.

If your car is regularly exposed to inclement weather and heavy rains, you might risk having rust on its surface. Vinyl wraps protect the vehicle from having direct contact with water.

The vinyl panels bar the water from reaching the car, thus preventing rust from appearing on the surface.

The weak spot here would be underneath the car. Yes, vinyl wraps can protect the exterior, but they don’t cover underneath the car. Here is where the third most common rust-causing element comes into play: negligence.

Apart from salt and rain, negligence is one of the most common factors in rusty cars. As car enthusiasts, preventing rust is an essential task. In the areas where car wrapping cannot help, you need to step up.

Try to protect the underneath part of your car from rust. Your vinyl wraps will fulfill the task of protecting the exterior. 

If you are interested in knowing more tips for preventing rust, you can check this post from Motor Biscuit about it!

The best protection against rust is prevention!

How To Car Wrap A Rusty Car

The first step to wrap a rusty car is eliminating the rust. Wrapping a rusty vehicle would bring along terrible consequences, so it should be avoided. For an effective wrap, a smooth and slick surface without rust will provide the ideal conditions. 

Rusty cars do have solutions in store for them. If the rust is not too advanced, the metal surfaces can be saved. It is crucial to take your car to a professional. The experts will perform a quality job at restoring the exterior of your ride to its golden age. 

If the rust is not removed before wrapping, the consequences could be catastrophic. Moreover, the vinyl might not even stick to the car. The panels would most likely peel off and develop bubbles, leaving the rust exposed once again. 

You can check this insightful article from the Popular Mechanics to know more about how to fight rust.

Prepping the surface of the car is paramount for ensuring the quality of the wrapping. The smoother the exterior, the more quality and duration the wraps will have. This preparation process clearly involves removing rust. 

It is not a question of how to wrap a rusty car but how to remove the rust for an effective wrap. 

Wrapping a rusty surface will not only allow the rust to spread but will also reduce the lifetime of the wraps. In most cases, car wraps can last about five years; with proper care, up to seven years. To know more about this, you can check this article I wrote about how long car wraps last!

Other Conditions That Prevent A Perfect Car Wrapping Result

Scratches, dents, and damages on the paintwork can compromise the quality of the wrapping. To properly wrap a car, the surface needs to be in the most pristine conditions possible. If there are any damages on the exterior, the vinyl panels might not attach correctly.


Scratches are some of the most common problems on the surface of a car. From contaminants to improper washing techniques, there are many things that could scratch the exterior of the car. 

When the scratches are too deep or pronounced, the vinyl wraps might not attach properly. Fixing scratches could substantially improve the quality of the wrapping process. Furthermore, no scratches would mean a silkier finish to the wraps. 

As an added problem, if you wrap on top of a scratch, you could further damage the paintwork when removing the vinyl panels. 


Scratches and dents cause similar problems to car wrapping. Any uneven surface would make it harder for the wraps to adhere to the car. If the dents are too severe, there is no way to wrap them and give a beautiful style to the vehicle.

Dents need to be fixed before delving into the wrapping process. When the surface is even, the vinyl wraps attach smoothly, and the looks are improved. Fixing dents is part of the professional prepping process for car wrapping.

Damages on the paintwork

Having damages on the paintwork results in an uneven surface. Problems on the surface of the car might be the worst enemies of vinyl wraps. If the paint is too worn out or has started to flake, the wraps will not attach correctly.

In some extreme cases, a new paint job might be needed before even considering a wrapping process. Damaged paintworks could not withstand nor hold vinyl panels. The wraps cannot attach to the surface of a car with flaky paint. 

There is a debate going on about the benefits and problems of wrapping compared to paint jobs. Are you interested in knowing all the insights? Don’t miss this article I wrote comparing both processes. 

Make sure your car is in optimal condition for a vinyl wrap by taking it to the experts. 

Key Takeaways

  • You should not wrap a rusty car
  • Vinyl wraps can protect the exterior of the car from rust-causing elements
  • Scratches, dents, and damages on the paint can compromise the quality of car wrapping
  • Salt and rain are the main causes of rust in cars
  • Car wrapping does not protect the underneath of the car from rust
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge