How long do car and van wraps take?

By Richard Clark on Dec 11, 2020 4:19:23 PM

8 min read
Wowcher Mini Cooper car wraps - How long do car wraps take

If it’s your first time getting a vehicle wrapped it can be difficult to tell how long the process takes from start to finish, and when you’ll be able to collect the finished car or van 

For business owners, there’s the added concern of how long a vehicle will be out of action for while it’s being wrapped – potentially leaving a driver unable to make deliveries. So timescales are commercially important, and the quicker the wrapped van is finished, the sooner it’s back on the road! 

There’s also an element of preparation that needs to be completed before you bring your vehicle in to be wrapped.  

So, what can you expect from the process?  

In this blog we’ll detail how long a car or van wrap takes and how to prepare your vehicle so that your vehicle can be turned around as quickly as possible. 

How long does a van or car wrap take? 

It really depends on how complex your project is. In general, a car or commercial van wrap itself takes up to 2 days to complete, from drop-off to pick-up. This timeframe allows for the vinyl to adhere fully to the vehicle.

For more elaborate graphical car or van wraps, finalising the design will take an additional week, provided you have some ideas or artwork ready to go. If you’re looking for a simple colour change,  then it'll only take a 1 or 2 days to confirm the materials you require. 

To find out more about getting started with a vehicle wrapping project,  including tips for design and how to prepare your vehicle, click here. 

The steps involved in wrapping a van or car are: 

  1. Drop off 
  2. Inspection 
  3. Wrap application 
  4. Bonding  
  5. Final inspection 
  6. Collection of vehicle 

If you need your vehicle wrapped by a certain date, ask your vehicle wrapping supplier how long projects generally take as soon as you can. This will help you both gauge when you will need to have booked your car or van in by to meet your deadline.

Alternatively, if you have a fleet of business vehicles, speak to your wrapping supplier about the possibility of securing a replacement vehicle – minimising downtime while your van(s) are being wrapped.

PLEASE NOTE: A good vehicle wrapping supplier will be unlikely to reduce their timeframes to meet your deadline. In order to rush a project through it will often mean compromising on quality of the application which could lead to lifting or bubbling. 


What’s involved in the vehicle wrap process?  

So, you’ve designed your wrap, decided on colours and are now ready to book in your personal vehicle or commercial van with a wrapping specialist. Excellent work!  

Let’s take a deeper dive into the vehicle wrap process. 


When you drop off your vehicle, your supplier will finalise the documentation with you.   


Your wrap supplier will inspect the vehicle to check that it is clean and if there are any surface defects that they need to be aware of. If you have not disclosed any dents and scratches it may increase how long your car or van wrap takes as the team will need to notify you. Additionally, if the car or van is dirty, more time will need to be spent washing it down until it is in a suitable condition to be wrapped.  

Wrap Application 

The team will then set to work applying the coloured or printed vinyl and laminate to the car or van. This requires expert precision to ensure edges line up, and heated tools to ensure a seamless bond between the vinyl and the vehicle panels.   

For a van, printed vinyl the size of a double duvet needs to be measured, cut and applied to the side panels, so this often is the longest and most critical part of the project. If this is rushed, the vinyl may stretch, bubble and lift over time.  

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After the wrap has been applied, the vehicle will need to be left overnight to ensure that the bond between the laminate, vinyl and panels is secure.  

This is particularly important in the winter. When the outside temperature is much lower, there is more risk of the vinyl peeling and lifting away if the car or van is collected and driven away too soon. 

Final Inspection & Collection 

The next day, a final check will be made of the entire car or van, to make sure that the vinyl has bonded correctly before you collect your vehicle and get back on the road!  

While a van or car wrap will take two days to complete, there are a few things you can do to prepare and make the process as efficient as possible.  

Preparing your vehicle: Tips for an efficient wrap project 

  1. Clean your vehicle beforehand 

The best thing you can do is give your vehicle a thorough clean before delivering it to be wrapped. A dirty or dusty surface will impact the lifespan of the wrap. Rather than a smooth application effect, the dust particles will show through the vinyl as small bumps, similar to a sandy texture.  

You can remove tar spots with a warm solution of water and a couple of drops of washing up liquid. More stubborn areas such as dried mud by the wheel wells and residue on the bumpers and exhaust needs stronger chemicals and more time taken to scrub clean. 

  1. Do not apply wax! 

A wax may traditionally provide the finishing touch to a gleaming car or van, but if your vehicle has been waxed before going in to be wrapped, the treatment will need to be completely removed before work can begin!

To make sure you've properly prepared your vehicle before undergoing a vehicle wrapping project, read these tips.

  1. Check for scratches and rust spots 

Vinyl wraps will stick very well to the grooves from deep scratches and rusted areas of bodywork. When a wrap is removed from a scratched or rusted panel it will lift off the original paintwork. 

To avoid any unexpected paint damage, and questions from the vehicle wrap specialists please ensure that you check and repair any rust spots and scratches on your vehicle. 

Prep is key to a swift vehicle wrap turnaround 

Planning out your wrap project and giving your vehicle a thorough cleanmaking sure that you’ve checked for any scratches or nicks in the paintworkwill help to ensure that your vehicle wrap turnaround time is within the two-day window. 

Remember, great vehicle wrapping specialist will work with you to try and meet your deadline, but they will not risk unnecessarily rushing a project and compromising on the quality of the wrap application. To keep your wrap looking pristine for as long as possible, check out our article: Top Tips for Vehicle Wrap Aftercare.


To learn more about what vehicle wrapping can do for you, check out our Ultimate Guide.

You will learn the benefits of branding your fleet, how fleet wrapping works, how much it costs, how to maximise the effectiveness of your branding, different types of fleet wraps, how other companies use vehicle wrapping and frequently asked questions.

Richard Clark

Written by Richard Clark

Founder of Raccoon, a graphics company launched in 1992. Still working hard to help businesses and brands connect with their target market!