The average car wrap cost is around $3000-$5000, but can vary wildly. Vehicle wrapping has many different applications and is a great way to make your car stand out in a crowd. No matter the reason for you deciding to upgrade your car, don't forget to consider the many options and the associated car wrap prices.
If you’re thinking about wrapping your car - you’ve come to the right place. Don’t make a huge investment in your vehicle without knowing all the options you have available and the expected car wrap cost! If you already know all of the background, feel free to jump down to the pricing below. We would also love to hear your experience with car wraps, so if you have specific pricing or thoughts please comment below.
Want to find some cool meetups where people have also customized their vehicle? Checkout my article on finding car meets near you.
They a pretty straightforward concept that involves a special technique of applying a thin film or sheet of vinyl - or other materials - around the entirety of your vehicle. Often, the vinyl is printed with a logo or brand that allows the truck to act as a moving advertisement for a company. However, lowered pricing and simpler techniques have brought this approach into the consumer market and it is now used very frequently for purely aesthetic reasons. Painting a truck can be a huge pain and very expensive, so sometimes this is really the better option. There are more than a few reasons why opting to wrap your truck instead of repainting it could be the smart decision. Cost is one I'll talk about below.
Check out this matte-blue wrapped Audi R8
Don’t see why you should spend the cash to upgrade yet? Let’s run through some of the main highlights. We discuss options for truck wraps in our other article as well, but the basics here are the same across the two.
When you look at the pricing for various options it may certainly seem like they’re a big spend, but they’re not alone. Custom paint jobs will often trend higher than a good wrap as there are many more steps involved and high end shops that do it well will cost a premium. Consider all the steps involved. You need to sand the vehicle, prep it, and then fully repaint which can take a specialist a long time to get through. The last thing you want is a mediocre paint job on your new M3 with no way to go back to the way it was!
For comparison, Car and Driver found the average cost of a paint job was $4950, which is across all types including the cheap options. They can increase with level of care easily to $10,000. When you compare that to wrap costs that average in the $1500-$2500, you can see that there are some definite savings between the two.
Is it better to wrap or paint your car?
While it depends on the situation, it’s likely easier and safer just to wrap your car than repaint it. There are a lot of unknowns and difficulties in repainting a car. Wrapping is a much simpler process and tends to be cheaper.
Anyone who has spent time driving out in rural areas will know how quickly bugs and debris knick and pry away at the front bumper of a vehicle. Without a good vinyl layer, the car’s paint is free and clear to take the full brunt of any damage. If you add that vinyl, however, now there’s another layer of protection for the underlying paint. Keeping your original coat in pristine condition.
In addition to the price difference between a paint job and a wrap, you also have the benefit of being able to bring the vehicle back to original condition when you want to sell it. Rather than try to explain to a buyer that your paint shop did a perfect job, you can just take off the vinyl layer if they don’t like it and you’re good as new. This also helps if you chose something out there like bright purple. Maybe the buyer prefers the standard white / black options.
Because of how easy it is to remove, you’re free to go as wild as you wish with your color or designs! If you want a tiger running across the automobile - go for it. Now you don’t have to worry that no one will buy it from you because you can just remove it.
While you’re at it, make sure to take some great photos of your sweet ride? See my article on car photoshoots tips.
To be fair, I’m using the term ‘easy’ in a relative sense as wrapping a vehicle well is no simple feat. That said, it is easy when compared to painting a vehicle. Taking one off is even easier because you don’t have to worry about the air bubbles or making sure there’s no seams. All in all though, it’s quite simple to remove it once you’re done with the car. That makes it a quick transition for when you’re ready to sell and want to get that top dollar for an original car with a nice untainted coat of paint.
Does the Vinyl Damage the Paint? This is often brought up but no, as mentioned above the vehicle wrap will not damage your original paint. Further, as we just described, it will likely even protect your paint in a variety of situations to leave you with a high quality, still-new coat of paint just under the vinyl.
Most definitely! This was one of the primary drivers in the invention of the technology. The cool thing about wraps is they can be easily printed on flat material by printers and then placed onto the vehicles. This allows for very detailed and high quality images, logos, and more to be showcased. You may not notice it all the time, but the next stoplight you’re at, take a look around and see how many business vehicles have their logo showcased on them. It might be more than you think!
Considering modern technology in chemistry, you can choose almost any color you can think of these days. You've got all the power now. Make sure you stand out by choosing something unique! If you get overwhelmed, that's ok too. You can just stick with some of the basics. 3M has a huge color selection and different finishes to give you the perfect combo.
This style is often used for personal vehicles and does a great job at turning down the shinyness and reflections of the vehicle. It essentially dulls the color which leaves it with a very unique and attractive look. The Porsche above features a matte black and you can tell the light reflection is heavily reduced. It doesn’t take a genius looking at this example to see why matte is so popular these days.
Pricing for automotive wraps varies widely similar to many other aftermarket upgrades. It will depend heavily on how you install it, what type you buy, and the size of your vehicle. These prices are just for the actual wrap vinyl - installation (see below) will run an additional $1000-$1500.
Your Chrome and Carbon fiber options are going to be the most expensive and put you around $5-$8 per sq ft. That means you’re looking at about $5-8k for the vinyl. Since you’ll already be shelling out the coin here, definitely makes sense to choose a good installer! More about that in a second.
There’s a lot of different options in the middle here ranging from the low pricing to the high. You can look at some glossy options, maybe some unique coloring or finishes. There are so many options it’s hard to give specifics but staying in the $3-5k range is likely where I would be.
At the bottom end of the spectrum you may be able to get a basic vinyl matte option for as low as about $1500 for your typical sized sedan. Again, pricing will go up based on square foot for a big truck or van. You’re looking at anywhere from $2-$3/sq ft if you have something larger. If you go bargain hunting there may be something cheaper.
Some examples from people who full vehicle wrap on an M3 and a 911 puts the all in cost close to $4k for basic colors, which is a bit on the low side of what's stated here! We are accumulating more data but it sounds like you might be able to shop deals these days for your basic mattes to stay under $5k for a great looking option.
As normal, you can always find things online that might seem cheaper but ultimately end up costing an arm and a leg. I once tried to buy some rear headlight blackout film online and ended up destroying all of it because I didn’t know how to install it. You’ve been warned! This stuff isn’t easy. That being said if you know your brand (like 3M) and find a good price on a wrap for your car online, you can probably get a local shop to just install it for you. Check out a ton of options here at Rvinyl.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this. Unless you know you’re very talented at this and have done it before, you’re almost surely going to mess it up and end up wasting the entire cost of the vinyl. Please please please talk to a professional before trying to do this. If you are set on doing it yourself, try it with a cheaper vinyl first on a small piece of a vehicle. You can get some cheap rolls of wrap online and use those for practice before buying a pre-cut version specifically for your vehicle. If you trudge through all the forums on this you'll find a lot of enthusiasts who have managed to do this quite well so it is definitely possible. I guess I just didn't quite have the skill, experience, tools, or dedication to get it done! So, if you manage to pull this off, let me know because I (and probably most readers) would like to hear your experience.
This is definitely the preferred method and the one that most people choose if they’re buying a something decent. If you are just buying a cheap option off of Ebay then maybe it’s not a total requirement. How much does a car wrap cost to install? You’ll likely spend an additional $1000 to $1500 on installation to cover your whole vehicle at a decent shop. A car will be on the low end, while a truck will be closer to the top or beyond depending on how modified it is. I hope this guide has helped you out in your journey to getting your car wrapped! Feel free to leave questions below and I’ll try to answer them!
Check out Some Related Articles: