So, how much does it cost to wrap a car? This article covers all aspects of car wrap costs.

Whether you’re looking for an economic way to advertise your small business, looking for an alternative to repainting over peeling paint or hoping to transform your car’s look with a new color or design, a vinyl car wrap may be the best solution to giving your car a makeover. Most wraps, whether full or partial, are applied by professionals, but products for wrapping your vehicle yourself are also available for skilled do-it-yourselfers. Professionally applied partial wraps (just your roof or hood, for example) start at $250; full wraps that cover your entire vehicle can range from $2,500 to $6,000. Wrapping your vehicle yourself may cost as little as $350 for a midsize car, depending on the type of wrap you choose.

This article will help you determine what kind of wrap is best for your needs and how much it will cost. We’ve also provided you with an online configurator that will allow you to see what your vehicle will look like after the wrap is applied. You’ll learn whether wrapping a car is cheaper than painting it, how well a wrap protects your vehicle’s paint, how long the wrap will last and more.

In This Article:

  • What Exactly Is a Vinyl Car Wrap?

  • What Does a Car Wrap Cost?

    • Vehicle Dimension Considerations
    • Full and Partial Wrap Price Differences
    • 12 Finishes (Gloss, Matte, Satin, Carbon Fiber, Chrome, Gold, Brushed, Glow-In-The-Dark, Color Change, Camouflage, Reflective, Custom)
    • Price Differences by Brand
    • Wrapping the Car Yourself
  • Is Wrapping Cheaper Than Painting?

  • Can You Justify the Expense of a Vinyl Wrap Because It Provides (Rumored) Paint Protection?

  • How to Make a Sound Purchasing Decision by First Test Driving Your Wrap Using an Online Configurator

  • How Long Does a Wrap Last? A Breakdown by Month…

What Exactly is a Vinyl Car Wrap?

A vinyl car wrap is like a giant, stretchy, removable sticker for your car, truck, van or motorcycle. A wrap is made of highly formable vinyl, which comes in large sheets of varying sizes and can be molded around the curves of your vehicle. You’ve probably seen wraps used by businesses as mobile advertising on their fleet of cars or rigs. Wraps are also a fast and convenient way for NASCAR race cars and trucks to change their appearance from race to race. However, since vinyl wrapping technology has advanced a great deal in the past few years (and dropped in price), consumers are beginning to wrap their cars, too, whether as a method for advertising their business or as a replacement for a new coat of paint. When properly applied, vinyl wraps do not harm your vehicle’s paint and are fairly easy to remove.

What Does a Car Wrap Cost?

The cost of a vinyl wrap depends on many factors, including the make and model of your vehicle, whether you want a full or partial wrap, the style and brand of the vinyl film selected, graphic design features, and whether you want professional installation or are planning to do it yourself. Basic partial wraps —  just your roof or the hood of your car, for example, can start at around $250 for professional installation. Full wraps start around $2,500 and go as high as $6,000 and beyond. We’ll take a look at some of these factors below to provide an assessment of what each might add to the final cost.

Vehicle Dimension Considerations

The size of your vehicle will affect how much vinyl is needed. For example, a Mini Cooper will obviously cost less to wrap than a large truck or full size van, and wrapping a motorcycle is even less expensive than wrapping a compact car. The curves and bumps on a vehicle also affect how easy (or difficult) it is to apply the vinyl wrap. It is more difficult to smooth out the bubbles and get the vinyl wrap to lay flat on a curve, as opposed to a flat surface. For example, a curvy VW Beetle will require more smoothing around its corners than a boxy Nissan Cube. This additional work may add to the hours of labor you’ll be billed by a company (or the time you can expect to spend in the garage if you apply the wrap yourself).

Full and Partial Wrap Price Differences

With a full wrap, your entire vehicle will be covered by the vinyl, including door jams (but excluding the engine bay). When done professionally, the cost of a full wrap will also usually include the time involved in removing the bumpers, badges, lighting, door handles, mirrors, body kits, etc.

Partial wraps may be used for a custom look or for advertising purposes. The cost of a partial wrap will vary depending on the size of your vehicle and the textural challenges involved in wrapping it as described above.

  • Roof wrap: around $250
  • Hood wrap: around $250
  • Rear window: $300 and up
  • Side panel wrap: $300 and up
  • Partial wrap (⅓ – ½ of the vehicle): from $1,300 to $1,800 and up

12 Finishes: Gloss, Matte, Satin, Carbon Fiber, Chrome, Gold, Brushed, Glow-In-The-Dark, Color Change, Camouflage, Reflective and Custom

Wraps are either digitally printed or pre-cured. A custom wrap design, such as a company logo, can be digitally printed onto the wrap film. The graphic design work required to create the wrap adds to the final cost of the project. Pre-cured wraps come in a variety colors and textures and are ready to be applied to the vehicle.

  • Paint replacement wraps: These wraps, which range from $2,500 to $6,000, allow you to change the color of your vehicle without repainting it. Paint replacement wraps are available in a variety of pre-cured designs and textures.
  • Graphic advertising wraps: These digitally printed, custom design wraps are used to advertise your small business. They start at around $250 for partial wraps, although the cost can run as high as $4,000 for full wraps.
  • Vehicle restyling wraps: These pre-cured wraps allow you to add an accent or detail to your car. For example, you’ll use them to add racing stripes to your Camaro or a black roof on your 328i.

Wrap prices vary greatly between manufacturers and suppliers. In this article, prices have been gathered from Amazon for consistency. You should be able to wrap a midsize car with 300 square feet of vinyl wrap. Since vinyl wrap is often sold in rolls that are five feet wide, you’ll need a 60-inch roll for a midsize car.

1. Gloss

This type of wrap has a shiny, reflective, glossy sheen. Following are prices from Amazon:

2. Matte Black

Matte black wrap costs can be pretty low (as can the cost of any matte color wrap). As the name implies, matte vinyl wraps have a dull sheen to them. These types of wraps are not shiny or glossy. Following are prices from Amazon:

3. Satin

This type of wrap has a slightly shiny finish, somewhere between gloss and matte. It conforms well to vehicles with curvier bodies.

4. Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber wraps come in matte, high gloss and brushed metal finishes. The ease of re-positioning a carbon fiber wrap will make it easier to wrap areas like your roof, fenders, hood, spoilers, interior dash areas and side view mirrors. Choosing a carbon fiber wrap is far less expensive than buying a genuine carbon fiber hood, which can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,400 — and more.

5. Chrome

Chrome wraps are one of the trendiest vinyl wrap finishes on the market; they’re also among the most expensive and most difficult to install. Following are prices from Amazon:

6. Gold

Gold vinyl wrap comes in a variety of sheens, although it is usually high gloss; it may also be brushed.

7. Brushed

Brushed vinyl wraps have multiple color layers that give them their distinctive look. They’re available in a variety of colors.

8. Glow-in-the-Dark

During the day, glow-in-the-dark wraps are a pale, almost white shade of blue or green. At night, they glow brightly using solar energy absorbed during the day.

9. Color Change

Also known as chameleon wraps, color change wraps may display two colors at once, depending on the light in which your vehicle is seen and the angle from which it is viewed. Popular color combinations include purple/gold, purple/blue and silver/rainbow.

10. Camouflage

No matter the area in which you’re hunting, there’s probably a style of camouflage vinyl film to match. Some options from VVIVID include Woodland and Desert.

11. Reflective

Reflective vinyl wraps usually come in smaller sizes, perfect for creating racing stripes or other details on your vehicle (prices are quoted accordingly).

12. Custom

If you want your car wrap to advertise a product or service, or you simply want a unique design for your car, a custom vehicle wrap can be a unique alternative to a paint job. One benefit of choosing a wrap for a custom design instead of painting is that the wrap is removable. Plus, they’re easy to maintain because they require no waxing and only the occasional wash. Online wrap design businesses such as Custom Car Wraps allow you to design a mockup of your car wrap and then submit your design for a quote from a wrap shop in your area.

Custom wraps tend to be less expensive than custom paint jobs. A custom wrap usually averages between $500 and $4,000, while a custom paint job can range between $1,000 and $10,000.

Price Differences by Brand

Your final selection of brand, finish and type of film will determine the final cost. For most types of wraps, VVIVID offers the lowest prices and a variety of truly unique wraps you won’t find in other brands. Avery-Dennison’s prices come in a close second, with Arlon and 3M’s prices tying for third. Oracal and AAA Auto Wrap also offer a limited selection of wrap types, but their products are not available in many types of wraps.

A qualified vinyl wrap installer can help you determine which brand and type of film will best meet your needs. If you’re looking for a vinyl wrap installer, try one of the following directories and search for options in your local area.

  • Use this locator or this one to find a wrap installer near you. installers across the United States from The Wrap Society Network.

Wrapping the Car Yourself

When calculating the cost savings of wrapping your vehicle yourself, keep in mind that applying vinyl wrap is a tricky task that requires patience, a steady hand, a friend to help, tools that most people don’t already have and many, many hours — even if you’re a professional. You’ll also need to disassemble many parts of your car so that the wrap can be tucked into panel gaps, like door mirrors, headlamps, tail lights, bumper covers, and so on. You may break a few trim pieces that will need replaced.

You’ll first want to purchase a complete car wrap toolkit with everything you need and your own wrap, which can be found on Amazon in a variety of colors and styles (even carbon fiber weave).

If you’re a beginner, you may want to start with a small vinyl wrap application, such as wrapping a simple hood, as opposed to wrapping your entire vehicle as your first project.

Applying vinyl wrap is definitely a skill acquired through practice. The following video shows you the basic steps to apply a vinyl wrap.

Is Wrapping a Car Cheaper Than Painting a Car?

In most circumstances, a car wrap job will cost the same as painting your car. Wraps and paint vary in quality and price; a poor-quality paint job is much cheaper than a high-quality wrap, and a poor-quality wrap is often much less expensive than a high-quality paint job.

If you’re trying to decide whether it makes more sense to paint your car or wrap it, consider the following:

  • Is your current paint job of poor quality? If so, a wrap will adhere poorly; repainting is the right choice. If your current paint job is of good quality (smooth, even coat with no deep scratches, dents or overall roughness), you can either paint or wrap your car.
  • Are you painting or wrapping a race car? If so, wraps are an excellent choice because they can be applied quickly and to small, damaged areas without needing to re-wrap the entire vehicle.
  • Are you looking for a factory-fresh look with no seams and a matching engine bay, door jambs and trunk? If so, painting is likely your best option, although it may be more expensive than wrapping.

Can You Justify a Vinyl Wrap Because It Provides (Rumored) Paint Protection?

Despite popular belief, vinyl wrapping a car doesn’t protect your car’s paint very well. For a quick science lesson on how well vinyl wraps protect your paint (compared to a paint protection film), watch the following clip. The video starts at 7:20 where the video’s creators do a simple demonstration.

 How to Make a Sound Purchasing Decision by First Test Driving Your Wrap Using an Online Configurator

3M offers a downloadable poster showcasing 3M colors and finishes. You can hold the poster up to your vehicle to determine which color will look best.

Even better, 3M offers a vehicle wrap customizer that allows you to see how select vehicles will look after they are wrapped. The customizer also helps you locate a 3M installer near you. Click the image to go to the configurator:

How Long Does a Wrap Last?

On average, vinyl wraps can last seven to 12 years, while graphic print wraps only last five to seven years. However, the wrap will not stay perfect for this long. Areas where the wrap has been tightly applied (around the front bumper cover and the spoilers, for example) are more prone to wear and will begin showing tears and bubbles sooner than other areas. The following factors all play a part in how long the wrap will last:

  • The quality of the film selected
  • How well the paint was cleaned before the wrap was applied
  • How many miles the vehicle is driven
  • The type of terrain on which the car is driven
  • The environment in which you keep your vehicle (outside vs. in the garage)
  • How frequently your vinyl wrap is hand washed (frequent washing helps extend the life of the wrap)

When you determine that your vehicle’s wrap is ready to be removed, you can take it to a professional car wrap installer for removal. Professional wrap removal usually costs between $50-100 per hour; a wrap that has been poorly applied or has strongly adhered to the vehicle’s base paint layer may take longer to remove. Wrap removal is an additional cost you’ll want to consider on top of the initial cost of wrapping your car.

Because of the high cost of professional wrap removal, many people choose to remove the wrap themselves. If you wish to do this, you will need a heat source, such as a handheld hair dryer — or better, a heat gun or blowtorch, to heat the wrap as you carefully remove the wrap at no more than a 45-degree angle. You’ll also need a squeegee to get every bit of the wrap off. Be careful: If primer was used when your wrap was applied, removing a car wrap without professional help can be nearly impossible.

In Summary

While wrapping your car can cost thousands of dollars and won’t save peeling paint, it can be a great way to make a major statement. The possibilities for vinyl wrapping your car are endless. You can choose carbon fiber, gold chrome, light reflective or camouflage. You can blackout your roof to make your car look more modern. You can even advertise your company. If the cost of wrapping a car is currently outside your budget, keep in mind that as the technology progresses, the cost to wrap a car will likely continue to decline dramatically.