October 18, 2019
From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here.Â Learn more about how this works.
Far beyond the reaches of old-school car bras and hood protectors are these clear paint protection films. Targeted at drivers who give a damn about their carâs paintwork, these options are dandy ways to keep a vehicleâs finish in good shape while not hiding anything under a leather protector.
Go ahead and expunge the mental image of a tired Camaro wearing a tattered LeBra, under which hides so much rust and miscolored paint. These modern-day solutions are a world apart from what was available in the bad old days. Also, my targeted ads are quite bizarre now after writing up all these commerce posts for TTAC.
(Editorâs note: As noted above, this post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our â90s sedan shopping habitsÂ operating expenses. Some of you donât find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)
Thereâs nothing wrong with choosing a well-known brand because, as customers of Tim Hortonâs failed Beyond Meat experiment found out, sometimes you do indeed get what you pay for. This roll of paint protection film is a healthy six inches wide, making it ideal for the leading edge of a hood or the perimeter or car doors.
A good five feet of the stuff means a single roll should take care of the square footage on the edge of your carâs hood thatâs constantly being assaulted by bugs and road debris. Beyond that, though, youâll want to order more than one. The 3M company has been making these types of items since essentially the dawn of time, alleging this particular product is âvirtually invisibleâ once applied. Having seen this precise protection film in action, your author can assert it is definitely tough to see, with only a fine line of delineation marking the edge where the film ends and unprotected paint begins.
Is your family perpetually dropping their skate blades on the top of your crossoverâs rear bumper while heading into hockey practice? Have you dragged that knackered suitcase up and over the same area time and again while hurriedly headed to the airport? Then this bumper edge paint protector might be a practical solution.
With strong adhesion and high wear resistance, this protection film should guard against the daily rigors of carting around Juniorâs sports equipment and your buddyâs flux-core welder that you promised to return last month. Measuring 47 inches by 4 inches, there should be enough surface area here to protect the vast majority of popular models. The seller claims it to be easily removable without causing harm to the carâs paint.
This protectant rolls on as a white liquid but apparently dries to a clear film 10 mils thick and allegedly peels off easier than it goes on. Each bottle of paint protector film will cover approximately 15 square feet of finished painted surface. It is designed for short-term use, say when youâre taking the Porsche to a track day or driving the Jeep through the bathtub obstacle at Moab.
Note that this product doesnât hold up well in the rain, with the seller saying it softens like the economy in damp conditions. They go on to tout that it wonât remove the carâs paint as youâre peeling it off. There is certainly a texture to the film, so be sure youâre okay with an orange-peel look while this stuff is on your car. Setting it in the sun is the best quick-dry solution after application.
You know those white plastic protectors that are applied to the hoods of some cars as they leave the factory? Youâve no doubt seen them on vehicles arriving on a transporter at your local dealerships. It turns out they are available for purchase by the general public, providing a durable temporary layer of paint protection.
No, you wonât be leaving this item on your car for any long amount of time but it could be just the ticket for saving the hoodâs finish during short-term storage or while transporting it during a move. The 3 mil, 3 ply material is said to resist nefarious UV rays for about six months. Itâll also guard against road grime and loose gravel while your car is en route on the back of a truck.
This stuff is similar in concept to the 3M selection listed at the top of this post but is from an off-brand with few real world reviews. Cheaper than the name-brand, it also is a bigger roll of film, measuring a solid 6 inches by nearly ten feet, twice the length of the 3M product.
It is often a gamble buying cheap online alternatives to the recognized names but it has worked out to your authorâs advantage on occasion. My genuine Romex watch, for example, only loses an hour every hour and our Somy television brings in at least three channels when it isnât raining.
Falling into the âthis is way more than Iâll ever needâ category is this lot of vinyl film wrap. With its smallest option measuring nearly five feet wide and over 6.5 feet long, one should be able to wrap every leading edge of metal on their car. The longest roll of this stuff? Sixty-five feet. Thatâs twice the length of your authorâs house.
Nevertheless, anyone running a car detail shop or fleet of vehicles might find this to be just the ticket, as buying in bulk is rarely a bad idea. The seller touts this product as ideal for protecting any flat(ish) surface on a car, from hoods to bumpers. It has only been listed on Amazon for a week, explaining the dearth of reviews.
Serving a similar purpose to the protection liquid listed above but in tape form is this roll of protectant from a company called Track Armour. All good companies leave little to the imagination when naming themselves and, as youâd guess from this brand, it is intended for people who track their cars but donât want them looking like a teenagerâs face at the end of the day.
Providing temporary paint protection for track days or road trips, this clear adhesive film allegedly applies in just a few minutes assuming the carâs surface is clean and dry. Said to be 4 mil thick, this stuff should shrug off track debris like a politician shrugs off responsibility once theyâre in office. The sellers say that it has âeasy workabilityâ around tough edges, meaning that it should curve around the contours of your Contour with relative ease.
The next time you clamber aboard your car, take a look at its door sills. Chances are theyâre littered with scratches a scuffs, the culmination of people entering and exiting the thing. After all, each trip assumes that at least the driverâs door will be opened twice – once at departure and once upon arrival.
This narrow band of clear film is designed to stick on over the door sill, protecting this high traffic area from the scars of daily life. Its 8mil polyurethane construction should be robust enough for even harsh environments, unless yourâre the type to drive in soccer cleats or hockey skates.
I have had the 3M professionally installed on my MINI 6 years ago and does a great job. For headlights or fog lights, I use a company called Laminx with superior results and comes in tints as well.
Do people wrap their entire vehicle or do they just do doors, hoods, trunk lids, and bumpers? Is this similar to the wrap that advertisers put on cars to advertise their products? I could see this being good protection for certain parts of your vehicle
Both. My previous and current vehicle were wrapped by the original owners. Mostly just surfaces that tend to collect paint chips or track junk: full front bumper, 1/2 the hood, mirrors and lower door sills. 3M, Suntek and Xpel are the ones I’ve heard of.
The stuff works but like window tint this is not DIY task. Getting the film down perfectly and cutting it accurately is an art form. Thus to do it right you’ll pay big money for a professional job. For example my brother dropped $4K on having his Porsche completely wrapped in a grey matte finish.
I did half hood, front bumper, headlights,mirror caps, and top of rear bumper (where things get dinged taking items in and out of hatch). $800 in MI. Laminex sells DIY kits. Excellent source for headlight films.
Iâve had XPel Ultimate PPF professionally installed on my last two cars, and itâs worth the expense. On my previous vehicle, I was able to have it installed before I took delivery; sadly, not so this time, so there were a couple minor dings that needed correction, even after only one month of ownership.
Rockers rear-bumper sides and lower-doors, edge-guards, mirror caps, door handle cups, full front and fenders, including head-and-foglights. They didnât have time to do the rear bumper, so Iâm going to be taking the car back sometime this fall for the full bumper in the back, plus A-pillars and roof leading-edge and taillights, which I forgot to have done. About $3,200 all-in, with tax. Better than a ceramic treatment because my residence in the salt belt almost makes an automated car wash a requirement during the winter, which is a no-no for those coatings; I have yet to hand-wash the car anyway, using a relatively new wash with the latest systems. Plus, I donât have to go back in a year for a coating refresher.
Well, I see the Beesclover outfit selling the humongous roll of plastic protectant also sells leather steering wheel covers for Skodas and a wide variety of ladies’ sport bras, so I guess it is worth a try.
That said, I should mention that my 1991 Nissan Sentra was fitted with a huge black vinyl car bra which at the time seemed like a really cool idea.