Step-By-Step Install On How To Apply Vinyl Wrap To Your 5th Gen 4Runner
I originally got the idea of vinyl wrapping my own 4Runner as a cheaper alternative to buying lower valances to make it look like a TRD. Along with a customized look, there are many other benefits to vinyl wrapping.
- Custom color selection/design
- Paint protection
- Easily removable
- No permanent damage or alteration to paint
Note: If you have a dent or major body issues, it will show through since the wrap is tight to the body. I have license plate frame holes and you can see them through the vinyl, but it is minimal.
I called a few shops to get quotes to wrap the front lower valence and they were over $200. I did some research and was able to get tools and vinyl off of Amazon for about $100.
Tools & Materials:
- Mothers Clay Bar Kit: Check Price
- Heat Gun: Check Price
- 3M Knifeless Tape: Check Price
- Squeegee with Felt (included with Knifeless Tape)
- Vinyl Wrap (I like the brand Vivvid): Check Price
Before You Start
Pay attention to weather conditions. Windy conditions could cause dust to blow under the wrap. Cold weather also makes the vinyl more difficult to manipulate.
Wash section prior to wrapping. Soap and water. Then use Mothers clay bar kit to remove all grime and wax so it has a clean surface to adhere to.
Step-By-Step Vinyl Wrapping
I decided to wrap my front lower valence, grill bar, upper grill bar, hood, rear bumper, and door handle cups.
If you can take any of the parts off before wrapping I would highly recommend it. It will give you easy access to wrap the vinyl and it allows you to hide your cut line since you can wrap it around the edges.
Step 1. Knifeless Tape Prep
Use the knifeless tape in the corners that you want your vinyl cut at.
The Knifeless tape makes it so you don’t have to take a razor blade to your paint. Knifeless tape in my opinion is a must-have for any vinyl that doesn’t end on an edge of the body part.
For example, I used the knifeless tape on my hood on the sides of the hump. On the front and back, I cut with a razor blade. Make sure to leave about 4-6” of extra tape on each side of your line where the vinyl will end. This will allow for easy accessibility and cutting.
Here is a good video that shows how to use the knifeless tape.
Step 2. Apply Vinyl
Take your vinyl wrap (with the backing still on), lay it over the area you want to wrap, and then make sure to have extra past your cut lines 2-8”. When in doubt, leave more to avoid it getting too short. The idea is to have the wrap be one single piece. The excess also gives you something to grab onto to pull the wrap around your part.
Remove the backing and place it on the flatter face of the bumper. Use your hand and the squeegee to get it as flat as possible without air bubbles. The great thing about vinyl wrap is if you get a bubble or wrinkle just pull it back to the bubble and start again. If a wrinkle keeps happening, apply some heat to make the vinyl stretch.
Grab a Heat Gun (& a Willing Friend) To Smooth Out Wrinkles
In the tight areas, it really helps to have an extra pair of hands. I had my wife help, she would use the heat gun while I stretched the vinyl and kept applying it.
You can keep working until you are satisfied with the outcome. Try to avoid overheating, the vinyl will overstretch and become too thin. Depending on the color you are using, could cause discoloration in the overstretched areas.
Make sure to finish the wrap past the knifeless tape. When you are happy with the vinyl, take the heat gun and go over the whole piece. If you overstretch it, the heat will cause some pull up.
Step 3. Cut Vinyl
For the knifeless tape sections, I like to cut a slit into the vinyl wrap to have a starting point for the knifeless tape to cut so it doesn’t drag the wrap. Fold the tape over itself and pull to separate the fishing line from the green tape. Put the fishing line into your slit.
Continue to pull the line through cutting the vinyl wrap; continue on to the end. Use a razor blade on any of the edges to cut the excess vinyl off.
Step 4. Remove Excess Vinyl
Remove the cut vinyl as well as the green tape. The green tape usually splits in two.
One comes with the fishing line and the other is left on the vinyl. Make sure to get it all off.
Step 5. Final Touches
Now that you have the excess vinyl and tape removed, use a heat gun and squeegee the cut edge down to the paint. I went over the entire vinyl one more time with heat to make sure it got a good adhesion. If you have any light scratches from the squeegee apply heat and the majority of the scratches will disappear.
If you see any air bubbles left try using a needle or you can buy a vinyl wrap tool and poke the bubble releasing the air and squeegee it down.
I ended up with a few wrinkles on the side of the valence that I couldn’t get out, but they are barely noticeable. I am happy with it, but after getting more experience of wrapping other parts, I know I could go back and re-do the front valence a lot better.
Once you get the hang of this you can virtually try wrapping everything. Anything that is flat is very easy to do. The curves and turns are where it can be tricky and will take more practice and patience.
Overall I think this is a great, cheap mod to do to your 4Runner. It can set it off and make it unique. There are endless possibilities with vinyl wrap and allows you to be creative.
And like I mentioned before, one of the best things about vinyl wrapping…if you get tired of it, simply pull it off.