Tips and Tricks Ė Wrapping an HHR Bumper
First off, donít do it if you can help it; But since you will probably have to at some point, keep reading. I recently helped out a customer with a complex wrap that they hadnít yet tackled. The dreaded Chevy HHR. If youíre unfamiliar, itís the small, retro, panel truck looking car very popular with small business delivery and rental car companies. Iíve wrapped a few of these before, so I was able to show them a few tricks that Iíll share.
Iíll reiterate what I said to start; if you can avoid wrapping the bumpers of these vehicles please do so. This is where design is key to a great looking install. If you can incorporate the body color of the vehicle into the wrap design, often times you can avoid wrapping such difficult areas while maintaining a full wrap look. They did so with this wrap on the front bumper where the design fades to white, the body color of the HHR. They didnít however do that for the back.
We started by removing the hardware, (license plate, emblems, lights, wiper, etc.) and did our final alcohol wipe down. We installed the back hatch graphic first as there was some color to align. We then tackled the bumper with one solid piece of vinyl, which I will always recommend. Any time you have a complex curved area meeting up with the sides and top of the vehicle it is always best to print your bumper piece separate and make it a solid color. In this case the customer decided to overlay the graphic information on the back door and bumper to avoid any distortion while wrapping. For the HHR or similar vehicles this is a good practice. We dry fit the graphic to measure fit and placement and started by removing half of the release liner. We squeegeed down the flat areas first doing as much as possible without heat. We then relief cut the bumper ovals that stick out 2-3 inches in order to have a wrinkle free and minimally stretched graphic. If done properly this trick can save the vinyl from extreme stretching and save your sanity and labor time trying to wrap around them. Once we worked the vinyl around to meet the sides and up to the top we came back and cleaned up all the edges. If you or your customer wants a fully wrapped bumper you can always overlay a piece onto the ovals.
The next step involved wrapping the sides to overlap the back bumper. The side pieces are fairly straight forward, but Iíd always recommend dry fitting them all before application because aligning on the HHR body lines can be tricky. We overlapped the sides over the bumper graphic by a half inch which is necessary in case the vinyl shrinks back a tiny bit. Which brings me to the final step; post heating. Because there was a lot of stretching involved with this bumper we made sure to post heat all areas to 220 degrees F with a heat gun. This will prevent the vinyl from shrinking and pulling up by resetting the memory to the new shape.
All in all it turned out to be one of the better HHR bumpers I did, and the end customer was thrilled. If you just have a plan of attack before application, your complex bumpers will look great.