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Vehicle Prep - Things you Need to Know

Vehicle Graphic Installation Prep Guide

This document is designed to help you and us ensure that all the proper steps are taken to prepare and install your vehicle graphics.


Dolphin Graphics is proud of the fact that we use only the best trained installers along with the highest quality materials. Warranty will not be honored if the following rules are not followed:

  • All vehicles must be cleaned/washed before we accept them for installation.
  • Additional costs for washing vehicle depending on vehicle If the vehicle does not come to us clean we will charge $65.00 (for passenger vehicles and an hourly charge of $65.00 per hour for larger vehicles) washing per vehicle. We will then wipe down the vehicle with a certified cleaning agent.  All graphics should be removed prior to installation (Dolphin Graphics charges for removal of old graphics, call for pricing). If the graphics cannot be removed cost effectively, we will remove all parts of the existing graphic that is not cleanly mounted/installed on the vehicle.
  • All vehicles must have a proper paint finish (automotive grade paint, NOT PRIMER). All paint must be clean without rust or corrosion.  If the vehicle’s finish (body and paint) is not in good condition, all vinyl installed will not be warranted by the vinyl manufacturer or Dolphin Graphics.
  • All extra options on the vehicle that inhibit the installation of graphics must be removed by the customer. Examples are: RV awning, ladders, special lights, speakers, roof racks, etc. If we are required to remove these items, there will be a $85.00 per hour to remove and reinstall these items. Items that we will remove at no charge are mirrors, reflectors, lights, and small emblems. Dolphin Graphics is not responsible for any damage caused due to the removal or reinstallation of these items.
  • Vinyl manufacturers only guarantee vinyl graphics that are properly installed according to their specifications.  This means that the vinyl manufacturer will not warranty vehicles with contours that extend beyond 1/4” of an inch. All compound curves on the following vehicles do not qualify for a warranty when wrapped: VW Bug, Hummer, most passenger and small vehicles. We will install, at your request only, the vinyl on rubber parts of the vehicle (around windows, doors, etc.) but the vinyl manufacturer or Dolphin Graphics will not warranty this part of the job. All surfaces that are not vertical are subject to a lesser warranty due to the fact that all materials are warranted based on a vertical surface.
  • If you have chosen to have an over laminate on your window, perf graphics, we must cut to within 1/4” of the edge of the glass and then will be edge-seal 1/4” cut areas of the glass to prevent the window graphics from lifting.  All glass surfaces covered with Window Perf and over laminated carry a one-year warranty, all window surfaces covered with Window Perf that is not over laminated carry a two-year warranty. (non printed window perf)
  • All stainless steel decal surfaces carry a 1 year warranty.  All diamond plate and surfaces like diamond plate will not be covered.  Mirrors are not covered or warranted. Vinyl is not installed on cylindrical items on the vehicle (pipe assemblies like roll bars, brush guards, etc.)  The law prohibits us from installing graphics on the front windshield, driver’s window or passenger’s front window. Wheel graphics are not warranted.
  • Dolphin Graphics offers a vehicle measurement program. For an on-site vehicle measurement, a charge of $85.00 is applied for each site (not limited to quantity of vehicles). When you place your order with Dolphin Graphics the charges that were applied for this vehicle measurement will be credited back on that job’s invoice. We strongly recommend that all vehicles be measured by a Dolphin Graphics employee to insure that graphics are designed properly to fit the form of the vehicle. If the vehicle is not available for us to measure, Dolphin Graphics cannot guarantee the graphics (images) to fit properly and will not be held liable for said graphics.
  • Installation - When we install graphics on a vehicle we use a felt squeegee or a soft sleeve on the squeegee to prevent scratching the laminate film. Even with these preventative steps, it is still possible to end up with small scratches in the over laminate.  These fine scratches do not affect the film or the warranty.  Along with the squeegee we use sharp blades to cut the film on the vehicle, all areas where there are body panel seams or areas where the vinyl could lift due to hard lines in the body or connections points; we cut the vinyl at these points. Sometimes the knife can cause small lines in the paint finish of the vehicle and when the film is removed the lines can be seen.  This is accepted as an industry standard way of installing graphics and needs to be understood by the owner of the vehicle.  Dolphin Graphics and the manufacturer of the vinyl (3M, Arlon, Avery, etc.) do not cover this damage under our/their warranty.
  • Average Turnaround time is based on the availability of our installers, plus bay time.  The average time from date of final approval is 7-10 days (5-7 days to produce the vinyl graphics, 2 days for the installation of the graphics).
  • A prep charge of $65.00 is applied to all installs that have a total install price of less $300.00 per vehicle. All graphics installations are based on the number sq. feet being installed.  We have a minimum of $85.00 for all on-site installations, plus a minimum travel time billed at $60.00 per hr. For all jobs that are priced by the sq. ft. if Dolphin Graphics’ installers are forced to stop installing due to no fault of the installers, a charge of $85.00 per hour will be added to the job.  A minimum charge of $45.00 will be added to the bill for all vehicles that are not cleaned (washed) before installation.
  • Wall graphics must have a wall that has been painted with oil, enamel, or acrylic based paint for all outdoor applications. For interior applications, latex paint is not recommended but is possible if the wall is painted properly and is clean and free from any debris. Dolphin Graphics reserves the right to refuse to install graphics on any surface we do not feel meet our standards and could in effect void a warrantee by the vinyl manufacturer or Dolphin Graphics. In the event we cannot perform the installation due to the surface not being prepared properly, the customer will be charged for 50% of the installation or $200.00 (whatever the higher amount).
  • Vinyl Removal - When we remove the vinyl from a wall or vehicle we use heat process to soften up the vinyl that helps make it easier to remove. In some cases the vinyl removes paint from the wall or vehicle because the paint was not properly applied to the surface. Dolphin Graphics is not responsible for any damage to the wall or vehicle due to the vinyl being removed. If the surface that has the vinyl is on is damaged, the surface must be repainted before new graphics can be applied. New paint requires 5 days to cure, so if you feel your vehicle could be a problem with the removal of the paint, then you could choose to install the new graphics over top of the old.
  • Vehicle design and layout is based on our “Concept and Design” rate of $95.00 to 145.00 per hour. We have templates for most vehicles and we can offer you a template of your vehicle for $35.00 each.  This charge is refunded once the order for the printed vehicle is placed with Dolphin Graphics.

Let Us Wrap Your Vehicle Fleets

We provide professional quality wraps: Design, Material, Print and Installation. We also offer fleet graphics programs (body shop / insurance claims) that can help expedite any graphics replacement to get you back on the road fast!
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Our Location

We are conveniently located in the San Francisco Bay Area
*East Bay just north of Silicon Valley.

Dolphin Graphics 17200 Foothill Blvd., Suite 200
Castro Valley, CA 94546