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Reflective vinyl nitemare

Discussion in 'Vehicle Graphics' started by csg94, May 12, 2011.

  1. csg94

    csg94 New Member

    May 12, 2011
    Back about 6 months ago I installed some reflective vinyl graphics on 3 different vehicles for a customer. The graphics were installed on both painted surfaces and glass windows. I did the cut graphics out of Avery 1200 material and I had a friend of mine make some digitally printed logos and he used Oracal Oralite material. I installed the graphics on all 3 vehicles myself.

    About a month after I installed the graphics, he called and said that the digitally printed logos on the glass were curling up around the edges. I went and looked at the vehicles and they were terrible. I talked with some people and about the only conclusion we could come up with was that the glass maybe was too hot when I installed them and the adhesive wasn't able to bite immediately. I had more logos made and sent them to my customer for him to replace himself. I told him to make sure he cleaned the glass really well and install them when the temp wasn't very hot.

    A couple days ago he called me again and said that all of the graphics (cut and digital) were peeling off of the entire vehicle on all 3 vehicles. I went and looked and everything was peeling off. They looked terrible!
    I can't figure out what went wrong. I had graphics made on 2 different types of material, installed by 2 different people, on different days, on 3 different vehicles that were purchased used from 3 different dealerships. Now 6 months later they are all falling off.

    I have been doing vehicle graphics for the past 10 years and have never had anything other than rare minor issues.
    My customer says that the vehicles are hand washed. Occasionally he says that they are taken to manual coin pressure washes but that they never use high pressure spray close to the vehicle. My customer is a Tractor Trailer dealership so they deal with vehicle graphics daily and I have known this guy for years. He is very honest so I believe him when he says how they take care of their vehicles.
    I can't figure out what the heck went wrong on these. I cleaned all of the vehicles good and prepped them with Rapid Tak II before I installed the graphics. They were installed dry.
    If anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate it. These cars may kill me before my time!
  2. SignosaurusRex

    SignosaurusRex Major Contributor

    Mar 7, 2007
    Washington State
    Which grade of Oracal Reflective was used for the prints that were applied to the windows?
  3. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

    Dec 27, 2005
    Guam USA
    I wonder if they might be using a new chemical that is too harsh even while hand washing the vehicles?
    Did you notice any staining or discoloration of the reflective when you took a look?
    What does the peeling look like (photos you can post)?
    Are the edges failing all the way around or more on the top edges where a cleaning agent might sit and attack the adhesive.
    With two different materials both failing is sure sounds like something the end user is doing and not your end.
    Maybe they hired a new cleaning guy who has not worked around cut graphics with a pressure washer before.

    wayne k
    guam usa
  4. mikey-Oh

    mikey-Oh Very Active Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Was it just the glass or all the vehicle the reflective failed?
  5. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

    Nov 29, 2003
    Kahului, Maui

    since he ain't here to reply...

  6. SignosaurusRex

    SignosaurusRex Major Contributor

    Mar 7, 2007
    Washington State
    :banghead:I missed that part about "all".
    I'd be looking to find out if the dealerships applied a paint finish treatment. There are a few hot new treatments that are quite popular with the dealerships lately. They especially like using it on used vehicles as it makes the paint look new. Some are applying to the glass, not just the paint. I'm currently testing one in particular with vinyl applied. It went on and stuck fine after a good prep but I'm not entirely sold on compatibility yet. :rolleyes:Just something to consider.
  7. csg94

    csg94 New Member

    May 12, 2011
    I appreciate all the responses.
    -I believe he said he used Oralite reflective 5600 for the digital
    -I did not take any pictures, so I don't have any I can post
    -I did not notice any staining or discoloration, the cars were filthy dirty but I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary with the vinyl appearance though.
    -My customer says that he cleans the car he drives himself, I will check to find out for sure if he does it or if an employee is cleaning them
    -It is failing on all edges, mostly along the top, but my opinion was that the upper edges would hold the most contaminants anyway so they would degrade quicker than the other edges once they started peeling. You may have something there though that I had never thought of.
    -Yes is was failing on both the glass and painted areas
    -My first guess was that the dealership where the cars were purchased used some sort of finish treatment on the cars to make them look better on the lot. When my customer said that they were bought from 3 different dealers though, I crossed that idea off of my list. However it may be a standard prep thing that all dealers are using on their vehicles.
    -One other thing I forgot to mention. These cars are towed behind semi trucks. When a customer buys a new Semi, the dealer drives the truck to the customer with the car towed behind, and then he drives the car back to the truck dealership. I don't know if they could be getting some type of contamination coming off of the trucks that are towing them or not. The graphics seem to be failing on all sides of the cars though.

    I really appreciate all the suggestions you have given so far!
  8. sdwnymph

    sdwnymph New Member

    May 18, 2010
    I have had this exact same prob and some police cars I did last year. They were brand new from the manufacturer and the new paint/sealent or whatever the companies are using now are actually very bad to put vinyl on. I had even normal vinyl on the windows curling and I laid everything indoors at a shop. I found if I prep the windows w/ alcohol several times it will get that stuff off the glass. Same w/ the metal. Unfortunately it takes some time, but only way w/ the newer cars for some stupid reason. Good luck.
  9. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

    Sep 24, 2004
    when "he cleaned them" did he wax them too? if so, big no no...
  10. natedawg9640

    natedawg9640 Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Appleton, Wi
    some new paints come with degreasing agents in the paint itself to make it easier to keep the car easier to clean. this obviously will inhibit adhesion. I presume the car was prepped properly with a good wax and grease remover as well as alcohol or whatever else?
  11. csg94

    csg94 New Member

    May 12, 2011
    Thanks for all the assistance with figuring out what the problem is. Based on the suggestions on here and based on what some other people's opinions have been, my belief is that the prep work wasn't as good as it should have been. My customer is willing to work with me on repairing everything, so I am going to repair them one at a time to get a feel for if they are going to hold up better this time.
    I appreciate all the info, and I will fill you all in in a few weeks with how well they are holding up.
  12. Rydaddy

    Rydaddy Member

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'm sure this has been covered before and I am certainly not trying to start a debate---

    Apply reflective vinyl DRY. (oops. I am an idiot - you did do it dry. Sorry)
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  13. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    We wipe everything with 3m adhesive/wax remover, then with "purple" cleaner before any application. And we do everything dry! Only have hade one fail in the last 10 years of doing that prep work. Before that, paint wasn't tough enough to handle that much prep so we just made sure it was clean and even then rarly had a failure.

    The last fail was a job pulled into the shop in the winter and done in about an hour (police car) so I think the problem was the car didn't get warmed up enough. We replaced it and it has been on there for 3-4 years and still looks good.
  14. johnnysigns

    johnnysigns Very Active Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    East Coast
    Was the material you used old? Can you check your batch numbers? Reflective may sit on shelves much longer than regular vinyls which can cause longterm adhesion problems. I've had some recent issues w/ that Oralite stuff on a truck I installed in some weather that was colder than I would have liked.
  15. CentralSigns

    CentralSigns Very Active Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Golden BC
    Some Fire Departments I have dealt with use a chemical in their wash water that makes the water sheet off easier. This could be a culprit, as it adheres to all the surfaces it touches.
  16. boxerbay

    boxerbay Active Member

    Nov 25, 2010
    Darkside of the Moon
    yup - use simple green or purple cleaner to remove the wax, then rub decal areas with alcohol. skip the rapid tac stuff. post heat everything.