How To Polish Vinyl Wrap: Best Tips & Tricks To Remove Swirls!


Hey guys! On today's episode we're working on this Ferrari 458 Speciale. This specific car is wrapped and goes to the track on a regular basis. With that said, the car is very dirty and there are scratches everywhere! So, on this episode we're going to focus on how to revive a color-changing wrap.

Step one is to power wash the dirt off the surface of the wrap. Then soak the wrap in Foam Paint Cleanser. Now, the reason you need a little bit more care on color-changing wraps is that they're typically thinner at about 3 to 5 mils, and less forgiving than PPF. Clear bras or paint protection film are typically 8 to 12 mils, so much thicker and with stronger self-healing characteristics. So, when you're working on a thin vinyl wrap, you need to take more care. The bottom line is, these wraps are really cool and they're a less expensive way to change the color of your car really quickly than let's say traditional painting. But more care needs to be taken with these wraps when cleaning and maintaining the material because one, it's really thin, and two, it's usually soft. When polishing out scratches in something  this soft, its less straightforward than polishing clear coat. During the drying process, specifically on wraps, I recommend using a microfiber drying towel to remove all the water. If you decide you want to use compressed air or a hot air blower, that's cool, just avoid lifting edges. It can be problematic if the edges lift up later on. If you use a drying towel, use Hydrate Paint Moisturizer as a drying lubricant. Hydrate will minimize the accumulation of the tiny little love marks that we're seeing right here.  

Now, in this case, because the car has so many scratches, we're going to move it into the polishing bay. With the car now in the polishing bay, up on the lift and the wheels off. We first prepped the wheel bucket with Brute Wheel Soap and then sprayed Plum Wheel Cleaner on the track rims. Leighton focused on cleaning the rims while Brodie and I polished the wrap.


 On this car we're using X-Foliate Polishing Fluid and a WAFL Finishing Pad for polishing the vinyl wrap. Vinyl wrap is quite soft so we don't want to heat it up too much and melt the wrap. We're doing quick back-and-forth passes over it, which is just enough to exfoliate the surface and remove the surface scratches. Definitely keep the speed a little lower and use less pressure. In this case we're polishing the wrap with a foam pad as opposed to a wool pad (too strong). You also wouldn't want to clay this; you'd really mar the heck out of it. So, we're just pulling out the junk, cleaning it, so to speak, and taking out a few scratches. I don't put as much pressure. I kind of let the wrap tell me what it likes, and getting it back to 80% to 85% is cool with me. Because if you make a mistake here, you have some big problems. So, I just kind of go a little easier on these. I suggest using a foam pad on a DA at a speed of three or so.  

 Here's the before and after on the passenger side door just to give you an example of what it's going to look like after you spend a little bit of time polishing wrap. What I'm specifically using here is a 21in Rupes polisher on Speed 3, a 6-in foam waffle straight cut pad.

That pad was primed with two quarter-size squirts of X-Foliate Polishing Fluid. Again, after it's been primed, I move my arms a little bit faster than I would on normal clear-coated paint. I'm doing that just to avoid putting too much heat into one place. Again, the mission here is to not have that shrivel. When you overheat wrap, you'll see it shrivel immediately, and then you have to replace the whole thing.  Now, on the after, it's way better. Is it perfect? By no means, but it is a bit of a balancing act between cleaning the wrap and then burning through it. That's far easier to do on a wrap than clear coat, as I mentioned. So, you have to be a little bit hyper-aware and at the same time be okay with not going after every single deep scratch that's in a wrap. If it's really, really bad and it's driving you crazy, you can, of course, replace it. That's the beauty, that's the joy of putting a wrap on the car. But I do encourage you to kind of exfoliate, to pull out all the junk that's in that wrap, and it'll look a thousand times better. At this point, Brody and I are about halfway done with the car, maybe a little bit more. I wanted to show you a perfect example of exfoliating the wrap.  

If you can see here, this is from the track, that's all rubber and dirt and what have you. I have a towel right here, a little bit of exfoliate. I'll come in, give it a rub like this, and you can see it comes right off. So, that's kind of what we're doing to the entire paint, just cleaning everything off and getting it ready for the coating.  

With the wheel wells exposed, Brodie took advantage of the extra space and used Frothe Hoseless Lift on the suspension before polishing the calipers. Again, calipers, just like the wrap, tend to be very, very thin, and they have lots of sharp edges. So, it's very, very easy to burn through.

I've done this a thousand times, so I'm just giving you a heads up here. Use a foam pad, exfoliate, very light pressure, and avoid bumping those edges that I just talked about because you'll have a little burn-through edges, and it'll drive you nuts. It happens all the time. It's kind of the detailing dilemma. Just the idea here is to exfoliate and just remove as much junk from the surface of the caliper, and then go in and protect it. With the pores of the caliper now clean, I'm going to fill those pores with a high-temp coating to make future cleanings way easier. 

 On the inside of pretty much every rim, there's old wheel weight stickers. Leighton uses rapid adhesive remover along with a pad attachment on the drill to remove the leftover adhesive. After he finished the wheels, he coated them with Gelee Pro to make future cleaning easier especially after a track day. Next we moved over to Bay three for more lighting, polished the carbon fiber engine bay, cleaned up the interior, and then, of course, added Reflex Pro II coating to the freshly exfoliated wrap.

A quick tip here: Coatings tend to cure faster on wraps in my experience, so you either need to work in smaller sections or, in this case, have a partner with you. One applies, the other removes, like we did here. Now that Reflex Pro II is on the car, when it's time for another wash, it's going to be way easier to maintain... meaning less time cleaning and more time on the track!  Well, guys, the 458 Speciale is done, and look at it! It looks absolutely spectacular. 

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