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Cosmetic Maintenance: Washing, Waxing, Detailing, Bodywork, Protection Anything related to keeping your Camaro clean and in good cosmetic condition.

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Old 02-24-2012, 07:48 AM   #1
Junkman2008
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Junkman's "How To Care for Your Vinyl Stripes"

This is a question that often comes up on a lot of car care forums so I decided to dig into the vinyl strip industry and get the scoop straight from the manufactures. First, a little background on the industry.

There are 3 major manufactures, 3M, Oracal and Avery. There are plenty of smaller manufactures but they do not do the volume, nor provide the size of raw materials that these three manufactures do. One thing to note. The companies that actually manufacture the sheets that the stripes are cut from do not sell directly to the public. Thus, if you do not know where the raw material was purchased from which your stripes were cut, there's no way to tell who manufactured your stripes. Your car manufacturers are definitely not going to let you in on this information and your local dealerships don't have a clue.

Just like in any business today, you also have your Chinese knockoffs. They have flooded the market with their usual sub par quality junk and you can usually spot them by their low prices. Of course, a lot of consumers only see the dollar signs and are easily manipulated out of their money for low grade materials.

The secret to finding out who manufactured your stripes lies in the adhesive backing that is peeled away during the installation of these stripes. Sometimes, the company who buys the materials in order to cut your stripes will request that the backing be left blank in order to conceal that information. That way, you always have to go to that installer to get the exact same quality stripes, unless you go with something different.

Vinyl stripes are NOT all the same. They are created to be used in specific situations. From outdoor to indoor, from cars to signs, the vinyl industry creates decals that cater to specific applications. You would not believe how many different blends of vinyl that one company can create. In vehicle lettering alone, Oracal has over 20 different "blends" to choose from. That's over 20 blends, from 1 of 10 categories that cater strictly to outdoor use! Indoor graphics consist of 6 more categories, each with their own set of blends. Talk about the secret recipe vault, I'd like to know who is guarding that thing!

So as you can see, the vinyl industry is very complex in what they put out. Thus, care for your vinyl stripes can be very specific, depending on what you have. However, Oracal made me privy to their care and maintenance information, which I am going to share with you all. In a nutshell, the ONLY thing you should be doing is washing your stripes with soap and water. They suggest a mild car wash soap. In their information that they gave to me, they suggested Dawn, Joy or Ivory. Now although those product are safe for your car and paint, they will wipe out any wax or glaze on your car. Thus, you want to use something safe for the products that are protecting your paint. That would be something like the Car Shampoo from Adam's.


Care for Your Stripes

I spoke with Dean Strohmenger who is the Sr. Product Support Specialist for Oracal. First, he directed me to this document, which outlines specifically the care of vinyl stripes. Here's the deal. Oracal and other companies like them do not sell directly to the public, they sell to distributors. The distributors either cut the patterns from the sheets that they purchase, or sell to the people who cut the patterns and/or install the cut materials on your car or sign.

The vinyl material for lettering and stripes vary in quality due to their plasticizer content. This plasticizer content consist of various materials/chemicals and determines how long the stripes will last. This also determines how long of a warranty you will get with your stripes/lettering. Each company has their own "secret recipe" that makes up their platicizer content but I'm sure that the maintenance procedures are going to be similar for all of the various manufactured stripes/lettering.

One very interesting thing about the warranty of these vinyl stripes. They are warrantied based on a sliding scale, depending on where you are located. In other words, a 10 year warranty is not 10 years in Arizona or Texas, like it would be in New York or North Dakota. Also, and this was the most shocking point that he made, the warranty is based on the vertical plane. That means the stripes on the side of your car is where the warranty is applied, not the horizontal parts. The horizontal parts are NOT warrantied because the elements of weather are too brutal to warranty that part! Wow, I never knew that!

So there you are. A document that definitively instructs you on how to care for your stripes. One thing that he said to definitely not do is wax your stripes. He said that waxing the stripes will dry up the plasticizing content in the vinyl and cause them to fail well before their supposed lifetime. he also said that waxing the stripes will have adverse affects to their appearance like causing them to turn white. I've seen plenty of car owners who have found that out the hard way.

So there it is folks, straight from the Junkman's research desk. You learn something new everyday if you go off looking.


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Old 02-24-2012, 08:14 AM   #2
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Intersting they said wash with Dawn, Joy or Ivory........glad I painted mine on. This is great information. Thanks Junkman.
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:18 AM   #3
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Yea, those soaps won't harm your paint but they sure as hell ain't good if you believe in wax!
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:41 AM   #4
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I also didn't know and wasn't told about the differences in warranty depending on where there applied on the car or even where you live !

My custom stripes supposedly have a Full warranty on them from top to bottom . Maybe its up to the individual shops to honor a warranty on placement on the car .

Thanks for the info Junkman !
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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I also didn't know and wasn't told about the differences in warranty depending on where there applied on the car or even where you live !

My custom stripes supposedly have a Full warranty on them from top to bottom . Maybe its up to the individual shops to honor a warranty on placement on the car .

Thanks for the info Junkman !
I bet the warranty is figured into the cost of the installation. For example, the job you that cost X amount of dollars for someone in Alabama may cost XX for someone in South Florida or Arizona. That way, they cover the cost of replacing your stripes if necessary. Of course if they never have to, they come out ahead.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:25 PM   #6
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Great!

Thanks for the research and sharing the info. I've got the stock TF3 carbon fiber look vinyl stripes and I need to be real careful.

Cheers!
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Old 03-19-2012, 11:35 AM   #7
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Thanks for showing us your research.
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:58 PM   #8
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I waxed my stripes once last year before I knew not to wax them. Should that one time cause any major problems?
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Old 03-19-2012, 01:43 PM   #9
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I can't say. I don't know how much each application creates damage.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jus1dab View Post
I waxed my stripes once last year before I knew not to wax them. Should that one time cause any major problems?
Looking at your sig pic I assume they're gloss correct? and factory?

You're fine. According to 3M (who by all accounts produces the OEM stripe material for GM) waxing is approved and safe:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan@Adams
------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------


Technical Data direct from 3M in regards to vehicle wraps and graphics:

Cleaning: Use a cleaner designed for high-quality painted surfaces. The cleaner must be wet, non-abrasive, without strong solvents, and have a pH value between 3 and 11 (neither strongly acidic nor strongly alkaline)

Additional Note from Tech Support: "The use of acidic or alkaline cleaners may be required to remove some types of stubborn contamination, but should be limited in use as repeated cleanings with such chemicals can result in drying of the material."

3M: Caring for Vinyl Vehicle Graphics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Section 6: Polish & Wax
Most standard graphic films and overlaminates can be polished or waxed with a high quality car wax. Before use, test and approve in an inconspicuous area. Do not use any abrasive polishes or cutting compounds.
For the carbon fiber and brushed metal films in Scotchprint« Wrap Film Series 1080, a polishing product such as 3MTM Tire Restorer or Meguiars« Natural Shine Protectant may be used. We do not recommend any polishing or wax product for the matte or textured films.

------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------------
The rest of the information can be read here
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:24 PM   #11
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What proof do you have that 3M produces all of the stripes for GM? That I would like to see.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:26 PM   #12
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:45 PM   #13
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What proof do you have that 3M produces all of the stripes for GM? That I would like to see.
Just as you did, spoke with contacts at 3M, who confirmed it for me. The only thing they were unable to confirm for me was the 45th anniversary package, transformer edition, and other 'special edition' packages.

EDIT - I'd also add the Avery information that was sent to and have to add to my thread, follows the same recommendation as 3M, and the Oracal tech doc's recommend a "teflon polish" for protection, thinking that it more indicates a sealant as we all know polishes are for correction, not protection - then theres the 623* melting point to keep teflon liquid, but thats another discussion all together.

http://www.oracal.com/products/_docs...t_Bulletin.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oracal
Use a Teflon type polish designed for vehicle wraps to help protect the surface and gloss.
Follow manufacturer’s directions and application frequencies.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:45 PM   #14
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Junkman recommends using "Car Shampoo" from Adams. Imagine that.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:53 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dylan@Adams View Post
Just as you did, spoke with contacts at 3M, who confirmed it for me. The only thing they were unable to confirm for me was the 45th anniversary package, transformer edition, and other 'special edition' packages.

EDIT - I'd also add the Avery information that was sent to and have to add to my thread, follows the same recommendation as 3M, and the Oracal tech doc's recommend a "teflon polish" for protection, thinking that it more indicates a sealant as we all know polishes are for correction, not protection - then theres the 623* melting point to keep teflon liquid, but thats another discussion all together.
Do you have a contact name at GM? I would like to speak with him too.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:56 PM   #16
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You actually might want to call Adam about that one, we indeed do have multiple contacts at GM.
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Old 03-19-2012, 07:34 PM   #17
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I'm about to do a paint correction with the PC kit from Adam's and want to be sure I'm doing it all correctly. My stripes are glossy and were ordered and installed by the dealership. What I'm gathering from Dylan's posts in here is that going over them with the PC (polishes and wax) won't hurt them, but I would rather avoid it. I have scratches that go right up to and even over the vinyl, though, so I want to be able to get as close as possible. What do you suggest I do?
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Old 03-19-2012, 07:39 PM   #18
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I'm about to do a paint correction with the PC kit from Adam's and want to be sure I'm doing it all correctly. My stripes are glossy and were ordered and installed by the dealership. What I'm gathering from Dylan's posts in here is that going over them with the PC (polishes and wax) won't hurt them, but I would rather avoid it. I have scratches that go right up to and even over the vinyl, though, so I want to be able to get as close as possible. What do you suggest I do?
Mask them off with blue painter's tape. Here's the deal. Doing nothing to them won't hurt anything. Doing something to them is taking a chance. You can't go wrong by NOT touching them.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:04 PM   #19
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Thanks for the info Dylan!
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:35 PM   #20
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Mask them off with blue painter's tape. Here's the deal. Doing nothing to them won't hurt anything. Doing something to them is taking a chance. You can't go wrong by NOT touching them.
Thanks. Those scratches they put in the glossy vinyl can not be corrected, am I right?
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:01 AM   #21
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Thanks. Those scratches they put in the glossy vinyl can not be corrected, am I right?
It depends on the manufacturer of the stripes. 3M makes a "healing" vinyl that can even be wet sanded on. Without knowing who the stripes are made by, it's a crap shoot. You could try and find a part of a stripe that you could test that is out of the way, or you could just replace them.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:53 PM   #22
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wait, isn't the answer to this topic, just add sVRT?
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