8 Sep 2015

Newsflash – Acid Fallout and why it turns wraps brown


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In recent months a small number of vehicle wraps customers located in various industrialized areas have experienced a dull rust-colored surface condition sometimes known as “fallout”. This has occurred to OEM paint finishes and wrapped vehicles alike. That’s right, this is not only happening to vehicle wraps, but to OEM factory paint jobs. This is especially worse with California vehicle wraps as it seems pollution is much worse.

What causes acid fallout in vehicle wraps

It has been determined that the likely cause is an environmental problem associated with fossil fuel burning facilities in these areas…a condition that is especially problematic in low-lying valleys like Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Murrieta, Corona and other areas where the pollutants often become concentrated in stagnant air. These pollutants, most likely sulfur dioxide, bond with water vapor, forming an acidic molecule. When the dew point is reached in the area, dew is deposited on the vehicle surfaces. What was acidic vapor is now acidic dew. The acidic dew etches the surface of the PVC film if the dew is left on the vehicle for prolonged periods of time. Because it is dew, and not rain, the acid is fairly concentrated and begins to etch into the surface of the laminate. Once the dew has evaporated from the vehicle, the dew leaves deposits of dust, minerals etc. from the water vapor in the etched surface of the PVC, thus causing the rust colored appearance. The acid continues to erode the laminate creating a pockmarked surface which further exacerbates the problem by increasing the surface area for the acid to collect and erode and increases the dust and mineral deposits. Once you get this problem, it is difficult to prevent it from progressing further.

What we are doing to make clients aware of this vehicle wrap problem

  • We have prepared a vehicle wrap care guide that is incorporated with our vehicle wrap warranty.
  • Further educating our vehicle wrap owners of the importance of care.
  • Modified our own warranties with regards to fallout.
  • Instruct clients that parking indoors at night can add years of life to a vehicle wrap

What you should do as a vehicle wrap owner

  • Wash the vehicle at least once a week with a very mild soap and  hand dry.
  • Ask Awhentik for a vehicle wrap care guide.
  • Use a Silicone or polymer wax designed for vehicle wraps to help protect the surface and gloss. (Follow manufacturer’s directions.)
  • Apply wax bi-monthly or at a minimum quarterly.
  • Do NOT use Carnuba based waxes. (As shown in our wrap care guide)
  • Replace your wrap every 2-3 years. Do NOT leave your wrap on the vehicle if you have any browning at all as you increase the chance of staining your paint.

These are only suggestions and may or may not prevent vehicle wrap damage due to the ‘fallout” phenomenon. Awthentik attributes “fallout” damage to environmental conditions which are not related to the manufacturing process, print production, lamination or installation. We therefore do not classify this as a product defect for warranty purposes as it is simply a customer care issue.

Image samples of what happens when it occurs

The following images are from another vehicle wrap company using vehicle wrap vinyl. You can see in the images what will happen if your vinyl wrap is not properly cared for. The images of the white bumper are actual factory paint that has acid fallout and the baby seat has fallout in a area that has nothing to do with vehicle wraps.