Car Racing Stripes. The secrets to an easy installation.

Ford Mustang Racing Stripes

Car Racing Stripes – Why is it so popular?

Did you know that a Toyota Corolla is sold every 15 seconds? Unless you have a very unique car, you will need to identify your car by its number plates. How boring. It is not hard to see why people are doing all sorts of modifications to make their ride stand out from the crowd. One of the easiest and most significant modification are car racing stripes. A slight change of design can make a huge difference to the look of your car.

racing stripes classic mustang 200x300 - Car Racing Stripes. The secrets to an easy installation.
Classic muscle car Ford Mustang from “meh!” to “OMG!” with racing stripes

Car Racing Stripes Design

So how does one achieve uniqueness? What designs would suit my car? If you don’t have an artistic bone in your body and have absolutely no idea Use Fiverr to get someone to make a unique design.

Car Racing Stripes Installation Methods

It may not seem like much, but installing simple stripes on a car is harder than it looks. Many installers keep their trade tightly to their chests, but I will share some of these secrets with you to make the installation easier for you. There are 2 general ways to install racing stripes. By knifeless tape or pre-cut vinyl strips.

Car racing stripes by knifeless tape

Knifeless tape is the most important tool for creating creative complex designs on your car. Although racing stripes are generally simple, straight lines. With the flexibility of making more complex designs, you can make your car stand out even more.

How to use knifeless tape

  1. Measure out where you want to put the stripes.
  2. For more complex designs where you will be doing the design freehand, go directly to step 4.
  3. Place masking tape as a guide for roughly where you will be putting the knifeless tape.
  4. Stick the self adhesive side of the knifeless tape directly on the panel.
  5. Once you are certain the knifeless tape is in the correct position, run your fingers along the tape to ensure it is adhered firmly to the panel.
  6. Leave around 3cm of knifeless tape for the pull tab at the end where you will be starting the cut and 1cm at the end of the cut. You can always leave more, but knifeless tape is quite expensive and I found that these measurements are the minimum to achieve a desirable result.
  7. Install your vinyl wrap as you normally would on the panel. Note where the vinyl wrap over the knifeless tape will be discarded as you don’t need to worry about a good finish.
  8. *TAKE NOTE* Make sure you don’t stretch the vinyl wrap film close to or on the knifeless tape as the vinyl wrap will shrink back. This can also happen to pre-stretched vinyl wrap. So it is best to avoid this practice in the first place.
  9. Once the vinyl wrap is in place, use a heat gun to post heat (cure) the vinyl wrap. Press down firmly along the edges, especially along the knifeless tape.
  10. Make a small incision on the tape about 1cm from the edge of the vinyl wrap without cutting the string.
  11. Put one finger on the incision. Pull the tape to the incision point and give it a quick firm tug to free the string from the tape.
  12. Put a finger on the edge of the vinyl wrap and pull the bare string to your finger. Give it a quick firm tug to cut into the vinyl wrap.
  13. Pull the string along the vinyl wrap right to the end of the knifeless tape.
  14. Peel off the excess vinyl wrap along with the tape.
  15. Carefully remove the tape from under the finished vinyl wrap. Take care not to touch the adhesive.
  16. Press down firmly along the cut line and use the heat gun for a final cure.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Can create complex shapes
  • Cheaper than professional machine cut vinyl film

CONS

  • Time consuming if you are creating complex shapes
  • The knifeless tape have to be measured carefully to ensure symmetry
  • Can be relatively expensive, especially if you are using cheap vinyl wrap film

Car racing stripes by pre-cut vinyl stripes

There are 2 types of pre-cut vinyl stripes that you can use. Machine cut or manual cut by hand.

Machine cut vinyl wrap

This is the best way to create complex designs for your car. However, there is a learning curve to create machine cut vinyl wrap and it is also not cheap to own the machine. This options should be disregarded unless you are planning to start a business cutting vinyl wrap. Alternatively, you can get other companies to cut the vinyl wrap to your design, but you will need to shop around, as vinyl wrap cutting is a niche market and most companies would charge a small fortune for the job. Another option is to buy off the shelf decals.

Hand cut vinyl wrap

The cheapest way is to hand cut vinyl wrap. Unless you have very steady hands, you are most likely restricted to cutting straight stripes.

Installing pre-cut vinyl racing stripes

Dry or wet installation can be used to install pre-cut vinyl racing stripes. As I have already written a post detailing both dry and wet installation, I will only briefly outline the steps here.

Dry Installation

  1. Measure out where you want to put the stripes.
  2. Use masking tape as guide.
  3. Remove the backing paper from the vinyl wrap.
  4. Pull the vinyl wrap taut across the installation area. If the area is longer than your arm span, you can stick one side of the vinyl wrap down onto the panel first.
  5. Use the masking tape guide to make sure the racing stripe is straight.
  6. Stick the racing stripe down onto the panel and smooth it out length ways.
  7. *CAUTION* You may be tempted to smooth the stripe out against the length, but you will most definitely create excess vinyl wrap along the length that you won’t be able to get out cleanly.
  8. Use the heat gun to cure the finished stripes.

Wet Installation

  1. Measure out where you want to put the stripes.
  2. Use masking tape as guide.
  3. Spray the application solution onto the panel.
  4. Remove the backing paper of the vinyl wrap.
  5. Place the vinyl wrap onto the panel and use the masking tape guide to align the racing stripes.
  6. Once you are satisfied of the positioning, squeegee the racing stripes into place . The squeegee will force the solution from under the vinyl wrap and the adhesive will stick to the panel.
  7. Use the heat gun to cure the finished stripes.

PROS

  • Easy to install
  • Cheaper than knifeless tape if you are cutting your own stripes
  • Can use off-cuts vinyl wrap from other jobs

CONS

  • Can be more expensive for pre-cut decals
  • May not fit the panels as perfectly due to marginal errors from cuts
  • The finish from manual cuts may not be as detailed as knifeless tape

How to vinyl wrap or spray car badges

The current trend have many people wanting to know how to vinyl wrap or spray car badges. Almost all car badges are chrome. It is bright and shiny so that everyone can see the brand of the car. If you take notice, you can see that the badges on Cars are getting bigger and bolder. Most brands would want to use this free advertising. However, for most people, the car badges being so big and bold is not favorable. Also with the recent trend of stealth look, there is no better time to make your badges blend in or coordinate with your colour theme.

How to remove car badges

No matter which method you use to change the badges, you need to remove them before you can change the colour. Of course, if you don’t want a perfect job, you can always change the colour with the badges on the car. The finish in most cases would not look great and it is much more difficult to apply the change.

You can have a look at the post How to remove car badges for detailed instructions on removing car badges.

2 easy ways to change the colour of car badges

You can buy custom badges that you can simply replace with the factory badges, but these are usually quite expensive and may not come in the colour you want. All is not lost as there are 2 easy ways to change the colour of your badges. Vinyl wrapping or spray painting your car badges.

Vinyl wrapping car badges

Vinyl wrapping car badges is not easy especially if you want a professional finish. I would give it a difficulty scale of 9 with 10 being the most difficult. The main reason for the high difficulty level is because of the explicit details on most badges. To wrap such details, you would need to take special care with the wrapping and also the trimming.

Vinyl wrapping badges on the car

It is hard enough to vinyl wrap badges off the car, let alone on the car. However, it is possible with care.

Spray painting car badges

You can paint car badges with either traditional acrylic paint or removable rubber paint also known as Plastidip. Although you can use a brush to apply the paint. Spray painting is the preferred method of painting badges as you can achieve a smooth finish.

Spray painting badges on car

Although it is not recommended to spray paint the badges without removing them. In some cases, you may not have a choice. The most common reason is the badges being stuck onto the panel with high strength glue. Here are the steps to spray paint the badges on the car:

  1. Clean the badges using a clean microfibre cloth and methylated spirits. Make sure every crevice is cleaned properly.
  2. Mask off the parts you don’t want painted with making tape.
  3. Use a hobby knife to trim any excess masking tape. Any excess masking tape may not give you a clean finish.
  4. Remove the excess masking tape.
  5. Clean the badges again with methylated spirits.
  6. Spray a thin layer of paint over the badges.
  7. DO NOT over spray.
  8. Look at the spray can for drying times.
  9. When the paint is touch dry, apply about thin coat.
  10. Repeat 9 for 5-6 times or until you are satisfied with the finish. At this point, the badges should have a smooth finish and all parts of the badges are painted evenly.
  11. Wait for the paint to dry and cure. This usually takes 24 hours. Do not remove the masking tape before the paint is completely dry or you will completely destroy the finished product.
  12. If you use Plastidip, use a hobby knife to run along the edges.
  13. Remove the masking tape.

Tip: If your masking was not perfect, you may want to remove the oversprayed paint. You can do this by using a fine paint brush and methylated spirits or paint thinner. If you use the latter, make sure you wash the area down as you do not want the thinner to sit on the paint.