Once you’ve settled on a design, it’s time to be sure the paint under the graphic is sound. There’s no sense in putting vinyl over rust.
Everybody wants his car to stand out. Big wheels and tires are one way–but have you checked the price of 20-in. rims with 30-series tires lately? Actually, there are cheaper ways to make sure you can find your car parked outside at the mall. Vinyl graphics can be had at Pep Boys and other auto parts stores, and any place that does window tinting will have catalogs full of graphics to order.
2 ] Remove the wax and any handprints with mineral spirits or alcohol. Wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area to be safe.
6 ] After you’ve squeegeed thoroughly, you can slowly peel the transfer film away from the car.
Start the process by positioning the graphic on the car, holding it in place with masking tape. Take your time to get it placed absolutely correctly, because you can only slide it around for a short time once the backing film has been peeled. Look for collisions between areas of the graphic and things like door handles and badges. A modest amount of trimming can solve a lot of problems, and we needed to do just that around the lock cylinder on both doors.
8 ] Remove water bubbles by puncturing them and squeegeeing the water out through the hole.
4 ] Peel the backing film away from the vinyl carefully. Don’t leave any of the vinyl behind on the backing film.
If at all possible, you should do the installation indoors, or at the very least, in a sheltered corner. Even a small breeze will tangle your tape, at the worst possible moment. The air temperature needs to be between 55 and 80 F as well. Don’t work in the sun–the wetting agent will evaporate way too fast.
Start by taking a picture of the vehicle and sketching what you want the final result to be. If you can find an off-the-shelf design, so much the better. There’s a rich palette of vinyl films to choose from, including metallics and moiré. The vinyl film stretches slightly to follow the curve of a fender, but don’t expect a giant American flag to stretch enough to let you apply it to the wheel-well arch of a dually pickup. If you must cover a large three-dimensional area, you can drape it with long, narrow designs instead of a single large-block design. Try mocking up the shape of the graphic on your car with masking tape before you go too crazy.
When you’ve got the graphic placed against the car, use gentle finger pressure to stick it to the car, starting in the middle. If you need to, you’ll be able to lift and reposition the vinyl several times to get it precisely where you need it. Don’t be afraid to spray on more wetting agent. As the surface dries, the adhesive becomes stickier. Squeeze the water out with your hand, and then use a plastic squeegee or an old credit card to work the rest of the water out, starting in the center. If the vinyl peels off the car when you try to remove the backing film, squeegee again to remove more water. Waiting 10 minutes or so will help the vinyl adhere to the paint better, too.
5 ] Position the graphic precisely. If you’ve kept the surface wet, it’ll be simple to reposition the graphic slightly to hit your marks.
7 ] Trim around any obstructions and across the seams at doors and fenders with a razor blade.
1 ] Trial-fit your graphics to the vehicle. Take your time, stand back and be sure the fit and aesthetics are perfect. Then mark the placement with tape or a grease pencil.
Cars 2016 Ford Focus RS: AWD Monster Likely to Land Stateside 9 Ways to Celebrate Star Wars Day (Other Than Watching Star Wars) Ford Offers to License Its Police “Surveillance Mode” Camera Tech to Other Cop-Car Makers DIY Bass: How to Install a Car Subwoofer How to Do Your Vinyl Record Collection Right How to Make Beer (Cheaply, Simply): Step-By-Step Guide racing projects and maintenance diy The Ultimate DIY Projects Guide automotive
Ah, yes. Wetting agent. There are proprietary mixes on the market, but I have my own recipe: In a quart bottle, combine a half-cup of rubbing alcohol and two drops (no more) of dish detergent, then top it off with water. If your agua is particularly hard, you might want to use distilled or demineralized water to avoid water spots.
3 ] Thoroughly douse the surface with wetting agent to allow you to reposition the film if necessary.
You can find everything from tribal flames to giant American flags for the rear window, to cartoons of small boys doing nasty things to the automaker’s logo of your choice. Still not finding exactly what you want? Many times we’ve gone to sign shops and had custom vinyl graphics cut. It helps to have a digital file of the graphic you want. The 6-ft.-long die-cut vinyl stripes we installed on this fridge-white SUV set us back about $75, and we got them right out of a catalog.