How To Keep Sublimation License Plates From Fading?

Sublimation license plates are designed using a printing method that can be susceptible to fading over time. Fading refers to the gradual loss of color and vibrancy on these custom plates, which can diminish their visual appeal. In this guide, we’ll explore effective ways to prevent and mitigate the fading of sublimation license plates.

How to keep sublimation license plates from fading? It’s a question that plagues many vehicle owners and enthusiasts. Whether you’ve invested in custom sublimation license plates for personal expression or promotional purposes, you’ll want them to retain their eye-catching appearance for as long as possible. 

To ensure your sublimation license plates stay vibrant and fade-resistant, there are some key strategies you can implement. First and foremost, selecting high-quality materials and UV-resistant coatings during the production process is crucial. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and proper storage, can also extend the lifespan of your plates. 

Understanding Sublimation License Plates

Understanding Sublimation License Plates

Before diving into ways to prevent fading, it’s essential to understand what sublimation license plates are and how they are made. Sublimation is a printing technique that involves transferring a design or image onto a substrate by using heat and pressure. The result is a vivid and permanent print that becomes part of the material rather than sitting on top of it, making it resistant to scratching.

Sublimation license plates are typically made from aluminum, a material known for its durability and resistance to rust. The ink used in the sublimation process is designed to bond with the aluminum, creating a long-lasting, fade-resistant image. Despite their durability, these plates are not entirely immune to the elements and may fade over time if not properly cared for.

Factors That Cause Fading

Several factors can contribute to the fading of sublimation license plates. Understanding these factors is crucial for implementing effective strategies to maintain their vibrant appearance. The primary factors include:

UV Radiation

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight is one of the leading causes of fading in sublimation license plates. UV rays can break down the pigments in the ink used for sublimation, leading to a gradual loss of color intensity.

Harsh Weather Conditions

Extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow, hail, and intense heat, can take a toll on your license plate’s appearance. Prolonged exposure to these elements can cause the image to deteriorate and fade.

Chemical Exposure

Chemicals found on roads, such as salt and de-icing agents, can come into contact with your license plate during your daily commute, potentially causing damage. Over time, these chemicals can erode the ink and contribute to fading, making it necessary to Paint Your License Plate to maintain its visibility and legality.


A lack of proper care and maintenance is another factor that can lead to fading. Without regular cleaning and protective measures, sublimation license plates are more susceptible to fading.

Tips to Prevent Fading of Sublimation License Plates

To keep your sublimation license plates looking their best and prevent fading, follow these essential tips and strategies.

Choose High-Quality Sublimation Plates

The first step in ensuring the longevity of your sublimation license plates is to start with high-quality plates. Invest in plates made of durable materials, such as aluminum, and ensure that the sublimation printing is of top-notch quality. Quality materials and printing processes will provide a strong foundation for preventing fading.

Use UV-Resistant Inks

If you have the option, choose sublimation plates that use UV-resistant inks. These inks are specially designed to withstand UV radiation, providing added protection against fading from sunlight exposure.

Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning is essential to maintaining the appearance of your license plates. Use a mild detergent and water to gently clean the surface of the plate. Avoid abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as these can damage the image and cause fading.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

As mentioned earlier, chemicals on the road can contribute to fading. Be mindful of where you park and try to avoid parking in areas where your license plate might come into contact with chemicals or corrosive substances. In snowy regions, be cautious of road salts and de-icing agents.

Park in Shade

One of the most effective ways to prevent fading from UV radiation is to park your vehicle in the shade whenever possible. Parking in a garage or under a carport can significantly reduce the exposure of your license plate to direct sunlight, thus extending its lifespan.

Use a UV-resistant clear Coat

Applying a UV-resistant clear coat to your sublimation license plate can provide an extra layer of protection against fading. This clear coat acts as a shield against UV radiation and harsh weather conditions, helping to preserve the image’s vibrancy.

Remove Snow and Ice Carefully

In winter, be cautious when removing snow and ice from your license plate. Scraping with a metal tool or using excessive force can scratch the surface and damage the image. Instead, use a soft brush or warm water to gently clear off snow and ice.

Inspect for Damage

Regularly inspect your license plate for any signs of damage, such as scratches or chips. If you notice any issues, address them promptly. Small damages can quickly lead to fading if left untreated.

Store Spare Plates Properly

If you have spare sublimation license plates, store them properly to prevent fading. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Reapply Clear Coat as Needed

Over time, the UV-resistant clear coat may wear off. If you notice the protection diminishing, consider reapplying the clear coat to ensure ongoing protection against fading.

When Fading Occurs Solutions

Despite taking preventative measures, fading can still occur over time due to natural wear and tear. When fading does happen, there are a few steps you can take to address the issue:


If the fading is severe and affects the aesthetics of the plate, consider replacing it. Quality sublimation plates are often relatively affordable and easy to obtain, making replacement a cost-effective solution.


In some cases, it’s possible to restore faded sublimation license plates. This process may involve repainting or reapplying the sublimation image, but it should be performed by a professional with experience in sublimation printing to ensure the best results.

DIY Touch-Ups

For minor fading or damage, you can attempt DIY touch-ups with special sublimation ink pens. These pens allow you to retouch the faded areas and restore the vibrancy of the image. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.


Does sublimation fade in the sun?

Sublimation can fade in the sun over time due to UV radiation exposure, but using UV-resistant inks and protective measures helps mitigate fading.

How long does sublimation last?

Sublimation printing on quality materials can last for several years or even decades when properly maintained and protected from harsh environmental factors. 

Does sublimation last longer than vinyl?

Yes, sublimation generally lasts longer than vinyl as the sublimated image becomes part of the material, making it more durable and fade-resistant compared to vinyl stickers or decals.

Does sublimation fade in the sun?

Yes, sublimation can fade in the sun over time due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Using UV-resistant inks and clear coatings can help mitigate this fading.


Sublimation license plates can add a personal and unique touch to your vehicle. To ensure that your custom design remains vibrant and free from fading, it’s essential to take proper care and implement protective measures. By choosing high-quality materials, using UV-resistant inks, cleaning your plates regularly, and protecting them from harsh weather conditions, you can enjoy the long-lasting beauty of your sublimation license plates. 

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