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Is Police Car Wrap or Custom Graphics Design Better For My Vehicles?

So, you’re ready to give your fleet an updated look, but you’re stuck asking yourself this big question: Is police car wrap or custom graphics design better for your vehicles? In today’s post, we’re going to share the pros and cons of each option, along with plenty of other helpful information on the subject you won’t want to miss. 

How to Determine If Police Car Cover or Custom Graphics Design Is Better For My Vehicles

When it comes to emergency vehicle graphics, there are always a million and one things to keep in mind. Not only do you want the design to look great, but it needs to be functional and efficient at the same time. 

For most police departments, longevity, style, and safety are top priorities for police vehicle wraps. They want their vehicles to include all of the necessary information, while also using reflective material in the right places to help keep officers and civilians safe at the same time.

With all of that in mind, it’s no wonder so many police departments are curious about the best options for designing their fleet. Is it better to go with a full police vehicle wrap or opt for custom graphics design instead? 

Police Vehicle Wrap versus Custom Graphics Design

A vehicle wrap involves a large sheet, the “wrap”, with the graphics on it. These wraps are applied directly to the car’s painted surface, creating a seamless and professional look. Vinyl graphics also create a seamless and professional look but work in a slightly different way. 

Rather than applying these graphics that are part of a sheet, vinyl graphics, decals, or lettering are stuck on individually. Think of it more like adding a large sticker to a surface rather than coating the entire surface with wallpaper. 

Additionally, vinyl graphics and lettering come in all shapes and sizes. Police car covers tend to be much larger and more of a uniform shape. 

Some of the other most important differences between police vehicle wrap and custom graphics design include:

  • Although it depends on a number of factors, custom police car graphics are often less expensive than wraps
  • Durable vinyl material can make wraps and graphics/lettering
  • Custom graphics design can take less time to complete than a police car design

Although full vehicle wraps are becoming more popular in general, they might not be the best option for your fleet. Following are some of the challenges that we have seen in the industry over the last few years as wrapping cars has become more common:

  • Horizontal surfaces crack and fade quickly, so they need to be replaced more often
  • The high cost of a full vehicle wrap is difficult to justify considering fiscal budgets
  • Bulbous surfaces will often lift over time allowing water to enter and damage the wrap from the inside out.

Whether you opt for custom graphics or a full or partial police car design, you’ll want to be sure it includes any necessary and helpful information. This includes emergency services phone numbers, the city or location the vehicle operates in, a badge/shield, and a vehicle ID number. 

(We talk all about the different police vehicle graphics designs and options in this post)

As you can see, each option poses certain advantages over the other. So, where does that leave us? Still wondering which one is right for your fleet! Next, we’ll look at both options and specific use cases to help you move forward with your decision.

Purpose of Police Car Design

A police car wrap can be done in what’s known as a partial or complete style. A partial police car wrap includes wrapping just a portion of the vehicle. On the other hand, the full wrap is the coverage on all four sides. With full wraps, you’ll need to be mindful of longevity as these are prone to more damage than partial wraps or custom police vehicle graphics. 

On larger vehicles, a police car wrap is a helpful option for covering more space. However, wraps aren’t the most effective option for smaller police vehicles, including cruisers. Certain areas of the vehicle, including door handles, mirrors, and textured bumpers shouldn’t be covered because it’s difficult to create a smooth, long-lasting result this way. 

Full or partial wraps for emergency vehicles are particularly useful on larger vehicles, including vans, ambulances, and fire trucks. These vehicles have more flat surface area, with fewer curves and contouring than a sedan, for example. That means the application and design process is less complicated, and you can add a lot more to the vehicle in less time with a full or partial wrap. 

Purpose of Police Car Custom Graphics Design

Specialty Police Graphics

Now let’s move on to police car custom graphics design and when this is the best option. For regular fleet vehicles, including sedans used for patrol, police car graphics tend to be the way to go. Because there isn’t as much surface area on the vehicle, it can be much faster (and less expensive) to adhere to individual graphics or lettering versus a full or partial wrap. This option is also longer lasting.

It’s also an option to opt for a non-reflective graphics kit for police cars. This is a great way to keep costs down while still getting the style and design you’re hoping for. 

Want to learn even more about designing your fleet with custom police car graphics? Visit this post next: The Ultimate Guide to Police Car Graphics.


Here are some handy takeaways before we close this post:

Police car wraps: Emergency responder wraps are often made with ultra-reflective patterned material (either diamond-grade or Reflexite) which is only good for flat surfaces because it’s non-conformable. Curves and contours aren’t best suited for full wraps to police sedans. But it’s a great option for ambulances, fire trucks, and other flat surfaces!

Custom police car graphics: This option saves time and money for police departments looking to update their fleet and provides an effective, long-lasting solution. This option is particularly suitable for smaller vehicles like sedans, SUVs, and vans. 

It’s also worth mentioning the importance of being careful with placing any graphics face-up on a vehicle. This includes the hood of the car, the top of the trunk, and the roof of the car. Graphics will fade quickly when they will place in these spots.

Do you want to learn more about designing your own emergency vehicle fleet? From police to ambulance, fire departments, and much more, we have seen and done it all. Give Graphics Design International a call today so we can get started! 


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