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Think before you wrap! – A horror story (and I am not alone)

I am not sure if it was Mario Ballotelli’s fault with his much publicised “camo” wrapped Bentley, but about 5 years ago the idea of wrapping a car in a plastic film to change its appearance seemed to get very popular indeed. Dozens of new companies started to pop up offering this cheap and fun way to change your cars colour, and even protect the original paintwork from stone chips, scuffs, etc. It seemed like a great idea, and in principle it is. The purpose of this blog is to inform those thinking of getting their car wrapped of potential pitfalls, and what they can do to avoid the financial and emotional misery I have had to endure this year. This is not intended to be a finger pointing exercise, which is why the names and companies involved are not included. I will say at this point that I am not the only person to experience this, so don’t think it is an isolated rant!

I bought my R35 GT-R in August of 2011, a beautiful example in Ultimate Silver (more on this particular colour later), with about 1800 miles on the clock. One of the first things I did was invest in a front end protective clear wrap. This particular wrap is thicker than the colour change one’s as its job is to protect, not change colour.

For £800 the front bonnet, wings, bumper and wing mirror backs were all covered. The wrap was expertly applied, almost unnoticeable, and I was delighted. For 2 years the plastic did its job, which if you know the GT-R means protecting something akin to a brick that pummels its way through the air! It is worth mentioning at this point that at no point was I ever warned about, or even thought about, the potential risk of applying a solvent adhesive to the paintwork. It seemed to be such a common practice that the idea this wrap could damage the car barely crossed my mind. I certainly wasn’t told of any risk when I got the job done. I had read about some issues with paintwork being scored when the wrap is cut in situ, but there is no evidence that happened to me.

Fast forward about 2½ years, and the wrap was starting to look a little worse for wear. A few stubborn stones had managed to break through, and the wrap was starting to lose adhesion in a few vulnerable places. This is perfectly normal, and to be honest, I was surprised it has lasted as long as it did, seeing as the car now had about 20,000 miles on it. It was time for a change!

My idea was to replace the clear wrap with a matt one that would change the shiny silver of my car into a sort of brushed steel effect. I’d seen one done on the forums and loved the look of it.

Due to the popularity of wrapping, and the fact the original place I went to was so popular, prices had jumped a lot, and I was quoted almost £2000 for the job. In an effort to see if there were alternatives, I found another place locally that could do the work for about £1200. Now, I know what you are thinking already.....you get what you pay for! Well, to a certain extent you would be right, but not in the way you think. I did do my due diligence and found lots of recommendations for this company and some good pictures of the jobs they had already done on various cars from Porsches, Range Rovers, Bentleys and another GT-R. I was also very happy to find that these people actually removed things like the lights, and trim to wrap around them, rather than the original place that uses a technique where the vinyl is cut with a Stanley knife in situ. I’d seen some nightmare stories where the knife ends up scoring the paintwork underneath using this method, so I preferred to avoid it.

From this point on things went downhill.

Firstly, the company concerned had moved premises, but not bothered to update their website, so after a few frantic calls I eventually found the place! Upon arrival I was told by the owner that he couldn’t wrap the car in a clear matt, as he didn’t do protective wraps because the plastic is too thick (over 150 micron) and requires a special technique that he was not an expert of. After some discussion I decided on a thinner Colour change wrap in matt steel which was 100 micron.

Following a string of minor issues like breaking fixing clips, damaging the wrap and having to redo it in sections, bits of wrap starting the peel off etc. The car was finally done, but here comes the absolutely crucial bit.
Initially I was told the car would take a week to do, and as I was going on holiday, gave them a full 2 weeks. Near the end of my holiday I called in to check the car was going to be ready, and the owner told me it was not. This was due to, and I quote, “A nightmare getting the old wrap off”.
He even sent me a few pictures, and at this point my heart sank to the floor.

This is what he sent:



What had happened was the previous wrap had lifted the clear coat off in big chunks. However, rather than stopping at the first evidence of this happening, they continued to remove the old wrap and consequently destroy the whole front end!

Let me be 100% clear here...AT NO POINT DID THEY STOP WORK AND ASK WHAT I WANTED TO DO. This meant I could not go back to the original company who applied the wrap and get advice. Instead these guys de-wrapped the car and the wrapped the new wrap OVER THE DAMAGE.

To give a slight bit of credit where it is due, the actual new wrap did look really good. There is no doubt this company knows how to wrap cars, and initially I was impressed with the quality of the work. It was only later that I started to get problems, including the broken clips, and the fact the headlamp washer system had been put back incorrectly so when I first used it, the cover popped off. In true Nissan style, a new cover and clip to hold it on requires a full system replacement to the tune of £130 plus VAT. Nice.



The broken indicator clips, and door card clips fortunately can be ordered individually in the US, so that only cost me about £30, but none the less it added a bit of insult to the injury.

So now we get the point in the story where I have now decided that none of this is my fault, the car is severely damaged, and how do I go about getting all this fixed.

Firstly, whose fault is it?

For me, the guilty party is the company that removed the old wrap, because if nothing else, why the hell didn’t they stop when they saw the damage occurring. However, in trying to understand why this was happening there are 3 potential reasons that I have had verified by a few experts in the industry:

1. Word of Warning #1: The original paintwork was imperfect. Even companies like 3M warn that unless the paint is factory fresh, you have a risk of problems (http://solutions.3m.co.uk/3MContent...4&assetType=MMM_Image&blobAttribute=ImageFile)

2. The first clear wrap was incorrectly applied and the glue bonded too much?

3. The clear wrap was incorrectly removed (it requires a process that involved heating the material and the car itself, it’s not just a simple removal job)?

Clearly, as far as I was concerned, I wanted the car repaired which would involve a front end re-spray. After much negotiation, arguing, having to drive 30 miles each way at least 5 times to confront the guy who refused to answer his phone, email or texts, I finally got an agreement for him to get the car re-sprayed.

Word of Warning #2: It seems that despite having insurance against poor workmanship, or liability insurance for damage, neither is valid when it comes to wraps. Apparently this is due to so many people making false claims to try and get “free” re-sprays. However, in talking with people in the industry, it also seems to be because the insurance companies recognise the risk of damage to cars by applying a wrap. This is, for me, a second clear source of concern for anyone considering a wrap. The fact of the matter is you are putting a solvent based adhesive onto your paint and then trapping it there. It’s no wonder it can cause damage, especially to “complex” paint systems like Ultimate Silver.

It was at this point that I discovered this particular paint is extremely difficult to make, limited to only this car, and is only available from a few global vendors. In all these cases, it costs in excess of £1200 a litre. To put that in perspective, Dom Perignon Vintage 2003 champagne costs about £150 per litre. The only thing more expensive you may use is printer ink....but you don’t need 2.5 litres of that just for a front end of a car! I could write a whole new blog on how hard it is to find this paint, why it costs so much, and how difficult it is to apply.....but that is for another day!

Word of Warning #3: Really consider carefully what colour paint you buy your new car in. All the premium brands have a limited edition “special” paint. Just bear in mind the potential costs. If I had bought a red GT-R, it uses the same paint as a Micra, that costs £27 per litre. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

By this point, due to the fact the wrap guys have done nothing, and I am the one running around like a blue arsed fly trying to source this paint, the car has now been off the road for 4 months.

It is now becoming increasingly clear that this chap is never going to pay to get the car repaired, despite threats of legal action, blasting all the forums, and even thoughts of worse! I am getting so sick of the situation, and the inconvenience this is causing to me, my work and my family (bear in mind this car is my daily drive, so I have had to rent cars, take taxi’s, and even borrow from friends), and the sheer costs, that I decide to pay for the work to be done myself.

Word of Warning #4: This is a big one. YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED. Yes, I could go to small claims court, and according to a lawyer I consulted, I would win hands down. However, getting money out of an independent trader is virtually hopeless. They simply take a CCJ and carry on. Could I spam all the forums and try and ruin his business? Yes, but would that get my money back......unlikely. Again, all this guy will do is simply change company names and carry on.

The whole thing stinks, and cost me over £5000 to remedy (not just the respray but also the fact the car need a full service having been off the road, transport costs, and taxi’s, rental cars, etc.). I will write a separate report about the guys (Innsworth Autocolour Services, Tewkesbury Car body repairs - Innsworth | Innsworth Autocolour Services) who ended up doing the work, because they have done a brilliant job, and the car now looks as good as new! I cannot recommend them highly enough!

Believe it or not, this is the shorter version of the story, but has the main points in it. I do not want to hurt the businesses of those who make a living out of applying wraps, and I will caveat that the risk of damage to your car is still very low, but it IS THERE. However, I think it is vitally important that everyone understands the risks of putting adhesive on your car, and you may not even know the potential problems until a few years later. Additionally, if you are considering buying a car that is already wrapped, my advice would be to get that wrap removed before you buy.

Please, be aware of the risks, and choose a highly recommended supplier (someone who cares about their reputation should things go pear shaped), ask them if they will remedy any damage, and then it should be a trouble free experience.
 

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Always pay at least £100 with a credit card, then the CC is jointly liable FOR THE WHOLE AMOUNT, so you can recover your money that way.
 

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This should NOT be an anti wrapping thread as the OP states. It is a simple warning to anyone thinking of getting a wrap that there are pitfall that can be avoided.
 

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Wow! What a nightmare!

Without trying to stir up trouble - I think the business identity should be shared! I have had 2 wrapped cars in my motoring history (both that I had wrapped). It was the forums that led me to the experts and away from the amateurs!

You have no reason to mask their identity - especially as you are not persuing them?

Glad you have got your car sorted though - and very useful information on UMS! My first gtr was UMS which I had wrapped!!!!
 

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Horrible story to hear but have to massively disagree with:

Word of Warning #4: This is a big one. YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED. Yes, I could go to small claims court, and according to a lawyer I consulted, I would win hands down. However, getting money out of an independent trader is virtually hopeless. They simply take a CCJ and carry on.
If a CCJ is issued then under the acts of the court the money will be collected or goods seized from the premises, even if the company folds and trades under a new name the new business will have to provide proof all goods have nothing to do with the previous etc.

If you've ever seen 'The Sheriffs Are Coming' that's a friends business. CCJ give the collectors more power than the police and once it's issued it's 24 hours to pay up.

Boring video but something else on a flip side regarding vinyl.

PW Pro wrapped mine 23 months ago, this is a section I removed last weekend, usually it's caked in all the exhaust gases and car has done around 10,000 miles in the time.

No heat, no cleaning solution this is how it came off and look at the mess it left behind.


I'd previously removed a cheap wrap from a spoiler I acquired and aside from blisters, burnt fingers from using a heat gun and it coming away in tiny pieces it took around 90 mins (thats not a typo) to remove the same section.

The wrap and application is key I guess. Know mine comes with a 10 year guarantee but it'll be off within 3 at the latest.
 

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Glad I stayed away from sticky back plastic now.
With this problem, and the rust caused by careless Stanley knifing, wrapping has got to be one of the most expensive ways to bugger your paint job.
 

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To the op I can answer every one of your questions from an installers point of view but unfortunately I'm in turkey on the dodgiest wifi connection possible lol

I can also provide insurance documentation that will show wrapping is insurable

I'll be back at the weekend and provide an independent view if you would like

I'm guessing from the page tags at the bottom the usual suspect is involved
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi everyone, thanks for the replies and sympathy, all very useful! Please keep the comments coming, and feel free to pm me if you need more info. To answer the points made here so far:

1. Paying with CC would be great, of course this particular company does not accept them, cash or bank transfer only. Yup, another lesson learned.

2. This is not an anti-wrapping thread, what this is trying to do is highlight the risks. I know many people are highly satisfied with their wraps, but I do think there is a lack of information. I wonder how many people would proceed if they had to sign a waiver before every job that clearly states there is a risk of damage and the cost will not be bourne by the supplier. All I am asking is that people are given sufficient information.

3. CCJ is a strange one as I have had conflicting views. In the end, the real issue is the time nad aggrevation to take someone to court, then win, then claim your costs back, then actually getting them. These independant traders do set up elsewhere, often in someone elses names, making the process very complex to prove they are one and the same person and can still be pursued. In the end, is it worth it for 5 grand? Probably, but the advise I got was that I only stood a slim chance of recovering money, and let's be clear here, I was trying to get the money back from the guy on good faith. Months later it is now proving to be an error in judgement.

4. That video is really interesting and brings me back to the point about application versus removal. I will never know if the problem lay in the original application or not. Had the guy informed me of the problem in removal the first thing I would have done is gone back to the guys who put it on, and asked them. This would then be a completely different thread, as I am pretty sure those guys who are way more professional would have done everything to help. It is this reason, and this reason alone, that I feel most justified in claiming the cost of the re-spray.

5. Finally, to the man in Turkey! I would love an independent view, and I would be very interested to hear your opinion on the level of risk, and the level of warnings you give to your customers. For me, if this story results in a more regulated approach, putting some responsibility on the trade to inform, and to have some kind of guarentee or insurance against this sort of thing, then I will be a happy man and feel at least my experience has lead to some good.

There is more than one wrapping service in Surrey, so please don't assume. It is not who I think you think it is (if that makes sense!). PM me for more info.....
 

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The man in Turkey is [email protected] There is a reason why people drive a long way to get Paul to wrap their car.
Personally I prefer old school respray but Paul did an excellent job of tinting my rear windows and tickling my daughters feet!
 

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Lol thanks Dave the tickling is all part of the service ;o)

To the op feel free to pm me the details over and as I say I'll put a how to together for you on my return

My bad for the assumption assuming I assumed who you think I assumed

That's a lot of assumptions lol

Paul
 

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I didn't view it as a scare monger to vinyl wrap thread at all simply a 'what can occur' to give people food for thought into the possibilities.

I just put my clip up to give an insight to my experience to ease some fears of some that might instantly panic into thinking this is the case for all.

I've seen full wraps being removed by steam cleaners and offer in hours and cars looking as new first hand, I also know of cars that have undertaken 3 or more wraps.

Whats happened to yours is shocking and I can only think it was due to the application or incorrect vinyl not suitable to a car. I know first hand of a company that used to frequent of certain GT-R forums that would charge customers for a particular vinyl but use a cheaper alternative. Car vinyl wraps are usually £30+ per sq meter, vinyl you can get for whacking on your kitchen worktop can be had for £4 a meter and from the naked eye look identical. I wonder if some cheap vinyl was used on your car and incorrectly applied.

Regarding the CCJ when I had issues previously I put in an application, I applied and it cost me around £50 - £80 from memory. I'd paid for a respray that had gone wrong which caused damage and the cost of repairs, loss of the car again and then another respray.

Through photo evidence and invoices I won the case. The courts issued paperwork to state what I was owed and the money with 7 days to pay. Payment wasn't made and was collected by bailiffs acting under the CCJ on day 8.

Best £50 - £80 I ever spent. Also what the court awards you in settlement is what you get, the bailiff fee's get dumped on top. All in all for £5k it took me 1 hour applying and 3 hours of the day out sorting the CCJ.
 

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Horrible story to hear but have to massively disagree with:



If a CCJ is issued then under the acts of the court the money will be collected or goods seized from the premises, even if the company folds and trades under a new name the new business will have to provide proof all goods have nothing to do with the previous etc.

If you've ever seen 'The Sheriffs Are Coming' that's a friends business. CCJ give the collectors more power than the police and once it's issued it's 24 hours to pay up.

Boring video but something else on a flip side regarding vinyl.

PW Pro wrapped mine 23 months ago, this is a section I removed last weekend, usually it's caked in all the exhaust gases and car has done around 10,000 miles in the time.

No heat, no cleaning solution this is how it came off and look at the mess it left behind.


I'd previously removed a cheap wrap from a spoiler I acquired and aside from blisters, burnt fingers from using a heat gun and it coming away in tiny pieces it took around 90 mins (thats not a typo) to remove the same section.

The wrap and application is key I guess. Know mine comes with a 10 year guarantee but it'll be off within 3 at the latest.
That video looks like it came of pretty clean?
Are you saying you're going to have the rest of the wrap removed?

To the OP, I truly hope you get yours sorted with the minimum amount of agro.
 

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That video looks like it came of pretty clean?
Are you saying you're going to have the rest of the wrap removed?

To the OP, I truly hope you get yours sorted with the minimum amount of agro.
Basically I have a spare spoiler, I did a switch due to a break light failure and decided to remove this section of wrap to see what it was like after 2 years on the car used through winter, summer, and only washed with water.

I never polish / wax my wrap to lazy hence the wrap :chuckle:

Now to remove it with easy a little heat I think is advised, steam cleaner the best I think but I decided to literally just pick and peel and it was really easy to come away and left very little residue, nothing a wipe of the finger didn't remove.

Under the wrap the panel looks to me as good as it did the day the wrap went on.

I will be having wrap removed in short while, not sure if returning to OEM paint finish for now or colour changing.
 

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ok fella I'm back from my hols so will try to cover a few aspects for you

firstly insurance - any good company will have this and it will cover the discipline of wrapping if set up properly

this is in my mind something a customer should ask to see if they have any concerns whatsoever - i don't see that the business should wave that about with every enquiry / booking but should be happy to produce if prompted

the cars condition - original paint - if the car has original paint and correctly specced vinyl is used and fitted properly removal will be simple and will require only gentle heat / steam to remove without damage and in most cases no adhesive transfer

for us this will take around a day for complete removal

again for original paint if incorrect vinyl is fitted then paint damage is quite likely

this to me is very much the fitters issue as the owner other than selecting a colour rarely shows interest in the manufacturer other than length of guarantee - i don know of some cases where certain manufacturers vinyl has been specced then swopped to cheaper without the owners knowledge which is just under handed and a very poor show

if the car has had previous damage and been repaired to a high standard then again the above applies

if the car has previously been painted and been painted poorly then even with the correct vinyl installed well, removal is likely to be a problem and with incorrect vinyl perhaps more of an issue again

this i don't see as being the fitters fault more an intrinsic issue with the car - some fitters wouldn't spot a bad paint job if their life depended on it

as for anyone suggesting that certain colours are more likely to have issues thats just laughable - the colour / effect is in the base coat of the car and this sits beneath a clear lacquer

that clear lacquer will be the same on all cars regardless of colour

a question you asked of me was do we warn customers of the possible issues and the answer is an honest one yes we do if prompted

theres no point in us asking is the cars paint original because if not it could come off when the vinyl is removed as most would have no clue wether it is or not

if it becomes obvious to us the car has had poor paint when we start to prepare the car then i will pick up the phone and discuss with the owner what he would like us to do

two other points are the £1200 price tag is ridiculous and in no way can a professional install be undertaken for that cost (perhaps explains the use of a scissor jack on a near 2 tonne car !!)

secondly special technique required for thicker material - a typical pearlescent is around 180um and is fitted in exactly the same way as a 100um plain gloss

it seems to me that you have had a bad experience through no fault of your own and i feel for you fella

we have dealt with many issues in the past some very publicly so know your pain well

if i can help in any way feel free to call and please let me know who both companies where as i would be interested to know - pm is fine

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi again, thanks once more for all the contributions, it's been an interesting read, and a big thanks to Paul for the detailed reply. None of this, of course, will get me my money back, but if it stops just one person having the same issue as me then my work here is done.

I would say my only issue is your comment about warning customers "yes we do if prompted". Why wait to be prompted? Surely it would be better if you fully informed customers before they even start? As you say yourself, most punters are not paint experts and wouldn't be able to spot a respray even if they tried....you, on the other hand, are an expert and should be able to. You also know enough to see if a car is painted in something special and expensive, or not.

I just think more honesty is needed....but your overall point of what you pay for is what you get is most certainly true!

David
 

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Hey David, It's Matthew, we went to CATDT together this year, I had the blue wrapped car, I took it down to Paul yesterday, it's Ultimate Silver also, he removed the front wrap of the car as it has been obliterated by stone chips, they used a steam cleaner and peeled it of gently, it didn't lift any of the paintwork or lacquer, (looked kind of like when you peel gloss paint off a paint tin).

From reading the above I'm more inclined to think its the people who did the job rather than the paintwork that's at fault here. If you had seen the way mine came off I think you would agree it would be difficult for it to lift the paint.

Mine is an 09 and has only been wrapped since February.
 

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Hi again, thanks once more for all the contributions, it's been an interesting read, and a big thanks to Paul for the detailed reply. None of this, of course, will get me my money back, but if it stops just one person having the same issue as me then my work here is done.

I would say my only issue is your comment about warning customers "yes we do if prompted". Why wait to be prompted? Surely it would be better if you fully informed customers before they even start? As you say yourself, most punters are not paint experts and wouldn't be able to spot a respray even if they tried....you, on the other hand, are an expert and should be able to. You also know enough to see if a car is painted in something special and expensive, or not.

I just think more honesty is needed....but your overall point of what you pay for is what you get is most certainly true!

David
hi david

as i say if we notice anything untoward once we have the car i immediately call the owner and discuss i can't start every quote questioning the customers cars condition and filling him full of concerns it would come across very negatively and raise question that the owner may not be able to answer

we only use the best materials available and we fit them carefully so we know there will never be a problem further down the line from our actions

i think that negates the need to have a pre emptive conversation

if during a quotation the owner asks are there any possible issues from wrapping the car due to its condition i will explain

think of it in terms of tuning your car

during quoting for a performance upgrade does the garage say well if your rods are week and we up the boost they will bend or do they give you a shout once working on the car and raise there concerns once they have physically seen the engine

knowing what i know now from your pm i think you should take a look at this car - http://www.gtr.co.uk/forum/213113-nissan-gtr-full-wrap-extras-ppf-removal-nightmare.html

this was installed by the same company that installed your clear front wrap

as you can see the material was of very poor quality and left a massive mess

luckily that car was stripped by us and it took nearly two days of painstaking work to carefully remove all of the residue without damaging the clear coat

paul
 
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