Don't Buy Paint Protection Film until you Read This!

Don't Buy Paint Protection Film until you Read This!

Can You Wax Over Ceramic Coatings? Reading Don't Buy Paint Protection Film until you Read This! 18 minutes

When it comes to protecting a car’s paint, there are a plethora of directions you can take. While the clear coat that rests atop a vehicle’s paintwork is engineered to serve as a frontline defense against the elements, this transparent coating has its own inherent weaknesses and drawbacks.

Faded, peeled, cracked, scratched, oxidized, and discolored clear coats can be seen on cars everywhere, rolling reminders of what happens when you neglect to clean and protect your automobile. While the paint underneath may be completely fine, due to the clear coat taking the brunt of the abuse, it’s going to look like complete crap due to the damage resting atop it.

On the upside, an increased demand for automotive paint protection film (PPF) in recent years has eliminated many of these clear coat conundrums. Not familiar with PPF? Here’s a quick rundown on what it’s made from, and how it works.

PPF consists of an ultra-thin polyurethane, or polymer, which when properly applied by a professional (typically an auto detailing or vinyl installation expert), forms a transparent protective surface layer. This disposable “skin” protects a car’s clear coat, as well as the paint beneath it from things like surface scratches, UV exposure, hard water deposits, acid rain, oxidation, and various other unpleasantries.

That said, there’s still a lot of confusion out there over what PPF can and cannot do, especially when exposed to extreme situations. The pendulum swings both ways too, with the pros and cons of PPF either being overly exaggerated, or completely understated.

So let’s shovel through the bullshit, and get down to the facts, because there’s much to be gained by having a paint protection film installed on your automobile, and a lot that can go wrong as well…

 

What is Paint Protection Film?

Photo Credit: 3M

A Little PPF History Lesson

Much like America’s favorite lubricant, (we’re talking about WD-40 here… pervert), paint protection film was not originally intended for automobiles or civilian use, but was developed as a tool for military operations.

It was the height of the Vietnam War, and the U.S. Department of Defense (D.O.D.) was receiving one report after another of helicopters being significantly damaged by shrapnel and debris. This was especially apparent on areas like rotor blades, and across surfaces carrying sensitive military equipment.

According to automotive experts, the D.O.D. set out to find a solution, which is precisely when good old 3M comes into the picture. The textile and chemical giant was gung-ho about finding a solution to this problem, and tasked some of its greatest minds with developing a protective layer that could be just as resilient as it was transparent and lightweight.

Before long, the U.S. military was presented with what appeared to be a solid solution to its chopper problem. By modifying the chemical structure of a super strong urethane film, 3M’s engineers had developed a product that could withstand both significant amounts of elemental abuse, and moderate surface damage from things like artillery shrapnel. Inexpensive, relatively easy to apply and replace, and resistant to UV degradation and common aviation fluids, this film was an instant success.

Due to its ability to conform to almost any surface, and then form a tight bond with whatever it was allowed to cure atop, this film became commonly referred to as helicopter tape, or “heli tape” for short. Today, this product is still marketed as heli tape in certain global markets, even though it is rarely used for its intended original purpose.

“Polyurethane Protective Tapes provide a cost-effective way to help prevent structural damage to helicopter rotor blades with minimal effect on blade track and balance. These tapes can significantly reduce rain and sand erosion damage … Foreign Object Damage (FOD) … life cycle costs and helicopter downtime.”

-3M Aerospace and Aircraft
Maintenance Division

Quick Nerd Note: Since PPF started life as a military application, there was no need for it to create a glossy, or completely clear appearance, therefore early versions were either completely opaque, or a dull, hazy-looking sheen.

PPF’s Transition to Automobiles

what is paint protection film?

Over time, 3M began to refine and re-engineer this revolutionary military protective film for use in the civilian sector. However, it literally took decades for PPF to evolve into the high-quality thermoplastic urethane film of today, and almost as long to catch on in regard to popularity.

While selling the military on a tape-like protective film that would keep helicopter parts from being damaged was fairly easy, getting car owners to agree to having their vehicles cloaked in super strong “plastic wrap” was a huge challenge. Offered as a “protective topcoat for painted surfaces,” and sold in a kaleidoscope of colors and thickness levels, car paint protection film slowly but surely grew in popularity.

Eventually, high-end car owners and detailing shops began to buy more of these pricey film coatings, as their protective benefits and projected longevity indeed lived up to the hype. Everything from bug splatter and bird droppings, to surface scratches, rock chips, and all manner of oxidization and UV damage were rejected by PPF, and it looked like the product was set to become one of the biggest game changers in the history of car care.

Paint Protection Films of Today

PPF_3 Photo Credit: 3M Canada/YouTube

Nowadays, 3M’s line of automotive paint protection films come in two offerings: A Pro Series (also known as clear bra), and a colored Matte version. Both are backed by a 10-year warranty, and when properly installed by a professional, offer what 3M refers to as “unrivaled scratch and stain resistance.”

With their ability to be custom designed to fit a specific vehicle, unique “self-healing characteristics,” and ability to match most factory matte paints, 3M’s PPF offerings have seen a significant growth in popularity in recent years.

Quick Nerd Note: The top layer of the PPF is comprised of an elastomeric polymer substance that helps the material maintain a natural shape once it’s been stretched or applied to something like a painted or clear coated surface. This allows the PPF to “self-heal” when light scratches occur, and pretty much eliminates any risk of swirl marks.

Types of Paint Protection Film

types of paint protection film

While 3M may have created PPF, and fine-tuned it for automotive applications, there are a handful of other manufacturers out there offering paint protection films. Some of these companies include Suntek and Llumar, both of which are offshoots of the Eastman Chemical Company, and XPEL, which is the official protective film partner of Team Penske.

A few nicknames for these protective products include:

  • Clear Bra
  • Clear Mask
  • Invisible Shield
  • Clear Wrap
  • Car Protection Film

PPF vs Vinyl

There’s a lot of confusion about the differences between PPF and vinyl, or if there is any difference whatsoever. So here’s a breakdown of the nuts and bolts that make each of these clingy products unique.

Vinyl Wrap

Vinyl wrap is a relatively thick substance, which makes it much easier to install and provides additional coverage, but it is not transparent. The PPF, on the other hand, is not a tint. It’s usually crystal clear, is much lighter, and self-heals when scratches occur.

Paint Protection Film

When placed next to a run-of-the-mill roll of vinyl wrap, it becomes apparent that PPF is a far thinner, and far more lightweight alternative. The perks of procuring it in either a clear or tinted shade are also unique unto PPF, as are its ability to offer superior surface protection and “self healing properties,” both of which vinyl has in limited supply.

So while a vinyl wrap may offer some level of paint protection, it is typically installed for aesthetic or marketing purposes, because shipping trucks are basically rolling billboards, right? In contrast, a PPF is going to either be a matte-like armor, or if transparent, a see-thru shield that allows glossy painted surfaces to safely shine underneath.

How to Install Paint Protection Film

If you’re going to have your vehicle covered in PPF, or are daring enough to try the install on your own, there are a few steps that must be considered. Again, this is something we strongly suggest leaving to the pros, especially since PPF can be a bit tricky to work with when compared to vinyl wrap.

Spend the Big Bucks and Plot Your Own Path

Most professional PPF installers are also vinyl wrap specialists, window tint professionals, or some other form of custom automotive service. Of these shops, those with enough capital typically forego guess work, and opt for a machine called a “plotter” instead. This computer-controlled contraption reads what dimensions are required, and then painstakingly cuts the PPF into sections, all tailormade to fit a particular body panel. This pricey piece of equipment is particularly useful when working with intricate areas, making the installation of things like headlight protection film an absolute breeze.

Or Buy a Few Bulk Rolls, and Grab Some Sharp Tools

For all of the shops out there who don’t have oodles of dollars to drop on a plotter, the cutting and installation of PPF revolves around purchasing a bulk roll of film, and shaving any unneeded overhangs. This process results in a shit ton of measuring and test-fitting, and material waste is exponentially higher due to the width of the roll being used.

Quick Tip: 3M has a lot to say about PPF install environments and surfaces, so we gleaned a few top tips to save you some time.

  • Vehicle surface temperatures and ambient air temperature should be between 55°F and 90°F (13°C – 32°C)
  • The vehicle should be removed from direct sunlight and winds above 5 mph
  • On repainted vehicles, paint must be thoroughly dry and completely cured before any attempt to apply film to the vehicle is made, in order to avoid film bubbling due to paint out gassing.
  • Be sue to overlap squeegee strokes in order to ensure no solution is left between the film adhesive and the painted surface.

Install Time!

For optimum results, pros either wear gloves, or wash their hands thoroughly prior to PPF application to avoid film contaminants like fingerprints, from fucking-up their hard work. While the PPF installation process may vary based upon the vehicle in question, or the brand of paint protection film selected, the following procedures remain the most widely utilized…

1. Scrub a Dub-Dub

Removing debris is not only crucial to the appearance of a paint protection film, but its performance capabilities as well. A good rule of wrench here is to think of a PPF like it were a ceramic coating, because the clear stuff is only going to emphasize and then lock-in whatever rests underneath it.

So if your ride is riddled with scratch marks and rust, that clear bra is only going to make them all the more notable, and pretty damn difficult to repair. Spend the money and get all necessary paint correction and body work steps knocked-out before proceeding.

Paint and clear coat in pristine condition, it is now time for a washing with some clean microfiber cloths and the old two-bucket car wash approach. Opting to clean surfaces with something like 3M’s General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner, which contains specially blended solvents for removing adhesive residue, wax, grease, tree sap, road tar, oil, and bugs is also a good idea when applicable.

Surfaces sprayed and scrubbed, follow the adhesive cleaner with an ammonia-fee, automotive-safe glass cleaner, which will remove any adhesive cleaner residual solvents lingering on the surface. Skipping this window cleaning stage could be catastrophic to your success, for failing to do so will likely result in shitty PPF adhesion and unsightly bubbles.

2. Cut Your PPF to Fit That Shit Homeskillet!

Photo Credit: 3M

Once all of the surfaces have been prepped, the installer will cut the PPF sheet down to size in preparation for installation, much like window tint. This is typically done in sections, with areas like the hood, rocker panels, quarter panels, side mirrors, door, and various other portions being measured and mocked-up for installation.

3. Spray and Pray

Photo Credit: 3M

Installing PPF requires an activator, or a fitting solution. 3M recommends using a two-solution application method here for optimal results. For a soap solution, just fill a 16 oz. spray bottle with water and add .6ml (4 drops) of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo or Aveeno Baby Wash /Shampoo.

An alternative option, is the full isopropyl alcohol blend wipe-down approach. Simply fill a 16 oz. spray bottle 75% full of water and then top it off with 25% isopropyl alcohol with a 70% rubbing alcohol rating. Remember to wash your hands before starting this stage of the application, as it helps avoid the imprinting of oily fingerprints on the adhesive.

4. All Lubed-Up and Ready for Action

cut paint protection film to fit your car size

Once the top surface of the film is wet with the solution of your choosing it’s time for the squeegee lovefest to begin. But while your squeegee may slide effortlessly across the filmy surface, it’s worth noting this is when it pays to be a pro.

Paint protection films don’t always like to fit perfectly when applied, and as we previously mentioned, is typically far more finicky than vinyl. This stage in the PPF install process involves a series of spraying, moving, squeegeeing, repositioning, and re-squeegeeing to remove any bubbles or creases in the film.

5. Fire in the Hole!

drying and heating the paint protection film

Once the PPF has been properly applied, and any lingering bubbles and/or creases have been removed, it’s time to bring the heat. Here, the use of an industrial heat gun and a touchless instant temp reader are used to activate the adhesive, and thus cause the PPF to stick to the surface. This stage also causes the material to shrink, creating a clean, tight fit on whatever it is protecting.

How Long Does Paint Protection Film Last?

Arguably the best attribute of a paint protection film is its longevity. According to 3M, a professionally installed paint protection film should last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. This explains why many of these products are covered by a warranty when the installation is conducted by a certified company specializing in PPF installations.

That said, much like car wax, ceramic coatings, or any other form of paint protection for that matter, there are a few variables that may impact product longevity. Some of the more common factors that impact a PPF’s longevity are:

  • Shitty Surface Prep
  • Piss-Poor Application Etiquette
  • Environmental Ass-Kickings

Pros and Cons of Paint Protection Film

Photo Credit: SunTekFilms/YouTube

PPF Pros

  • Superior protection against rock chips and scratches
  • Prevents the formation of paint swirls
  • Near Deadpool-like self-healing properties
  • Can last up to 10 years when properly maintained

PPF Cons

  • Can reduce the shine of a vehicle’s paint if not pampered
  • Not always very hydrophobic. (Many professional PPF installers suggest a ceramic coating application services on top of a fresh layer of PPF for unrivaled paint protection.)
  • Inferior PPF products and knock-offs will often discolor and develop a yellowish tinge
  • Once damaged, it will need to be completely removed and replaced
  • Not a very good DIY solution
  • Has been known to damage paint if left for too long and not properly maintained
  • Most expensive modern paint protection product

How to Get the Most Out of a Paint Protection Film

Photo Credit: 3M

Almost all of the cons listed above can be negated by combining a high grade PPF with a quality ceramic coating. This is why a lot of performance car owners will only install a PPF on the front portions of a vehicle (where rock chips and acidic bug guts are most prone to fucking shit up), and then apply a 9H-rated ceramic coating on top of this PPF, as well as other areas of the vehicle.

This helps to improve shine (PPF is notorious for becoming dull over time) and improve the surface’s water and debris-repelling hydrophobic properties. This will also cut down on the need for frequent car washes and wax installs, thus saving the vehicle owner significant amounts of time and labor.

A Few More Paint Protection Film FAQ’s

Photo Credit: SunTekFilms/YouTube

As you have surely been able to gather, paint protection films are a brilliant product, especially when it comes to protecting the exterior of a vehicle from things like airborne debris damage. That said, we still get a lot of questions from car owners about the PPF installation process, with the following being the most commonplace.

What is the most important factor in choosing a PPF installer?

-Experience matters, especially when it comes to installing PPF. Unlike a vinyl wrap, this product can be tricky to install correctly, which is why it’s always best to work with a certified PPF installer with solid reviews.

What type of warranties are available with PPF products?

-That depends upon the product you use, and who installs it. We’ve seen various PPF products being offered with a slew of different warranties. The most common warranties range from 5 to 10 years, but that only covers manufacturer defects, so you’ll be shit out of luck if there is an issue with the prep chemicals used, or the shop doing the install.

Are certain PPF products better than others?

-Reviews of PPF products vary depending upon quality, longevity, price, and ease of install. That said, as the originator, 3M still seems to hold the crown for highest PPF reviews, despite being the most expensive.

Are there any alternatives to using PPF?

-There’s a lot that can be said for a vehicle’s intended purpose. If you’re looking to protect your vehicle’s clear coat and paint from things like rock chips and scratches and it outlast anything else on the market, then PPF is the clear winner.

However, pairing a high-end, 9H-rated ceramic coating with a flawlessly installed PPF will create a shield that offers the best of both worlds, and should always be opted for by those looking for unrivaled protection.

Parting Shots, and a Verdict on Paint Protection Film

paint protection film vs ceramic coating

Paint protection films, or PPF, are an outstanding way to shield a vehicle’s surfaces from damage caused by the worlds most abrasive debris. However, it isn’t really intended to enhance the luster of a paint job either, nor is it very good at keeping vehicle surfaces clean.

So is a high-end PPF worth the up-front cost and the steep fees associated with utilizing a pro installer? That’s for you to decide. Living in a harsh environment and beating the ever-loving shit out of your beloved daily beater every day? Then it’s probably time to upgrade to a PPF, and then coat it with a slathering of Armor Shield IX ceramic coating.

85 comments

Ellie Davis

Ellie Davis

I was not aware that paint protection film will provide more protection against rock chips. My husband bought his first car recently, and we are looking for advice to protect him from accidents. I will let him know about the benefits of a paint protection film to help him.

I was not aware that paint protection film will provide more protection against rock chips. My husband bought his first car recently, and we are looking for advice to protect him from accidents. I will let him know about the benefits of a paint protection film to help him.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi Marlo. Thanks for the question. That’s something you should ask a PPF manufacturer directly. I don’t want to speak for them – as each brand and installer has different advantages and side-effects.

Hi Marlo. Thanks for the question. That’s something you should ask a PPF manufacturer directly. I don’t want to speak for them – as each brand and installer has different advantages and side-effects.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi there Ali. Thanks for contacting us, sorry for the late reply. Where you live, ANY PPF will help more than it harms – simply due to the extreme heat and blowing sand. Nano Guard VIP is a good product – but that price is ridiculous (for US Standards). If it’s a good value for you, then, by all means, go for it.

Hi there Ali. Thanks for contacting us, sorry for the late reply. Where you live, ANY PPF will help more than it harms – simply due to the extreme heat and blowing sand. Nano Guard VIP is a good product – but that price is ridiculous (for US Standards). If it’s a good value for you, then, by all means, go for it.

Dan

Dan

In your specific needs the ppf is not a good idea. The sand will scratch the film when you are going to use the wipers (if accidentally touching the lever)
There are some films named “Clearplex” and “Ultrafit” that can solve this for a period like 15 -40 thousands km as they said.
However, sand is the most agresive thing for these films and need to be tested in that specific conditions to be able to reccomand it.

In your specific needs the ppf is not a good idea. The sand will scratch the film when you are going to use the wipers (if accidentally touching the lever)
There are some films named “Clearplex” and “Ultrafit” that can solve this for a period like 15 -40 thousands km as they said.
However, sand is the most agresive thing for these films and need to be tested in that specific conditions to be able to reccomand it.

Ali

Ali

Hey Tim, thank you so much for the valuable article.
I recently moved to Kuwait(it is very hot country as you may know), and I bought a honda accord car. All the films protection ppf you have mentioned don’t exist and if one of them exist is too expensive due to low competition. But we have sometime called nano guard VIP in a reasonable price 6000 usd. I need your advice, should I go for it? (Only Covers front car part and lower back of the car)
Also ultra + nano guard exists in a very expensive price average of 15000 usd. Hope you can help me.

Hey Tim, thank you so much for the valuable article.
I recently moved to Kuwait(it is very hot country as you may know), and I bought a honda accord car. All the films protection ppf you have mentioned don’t exist and if one of them exist is too expensive due to low competition. But we have sometime called nano guard VIP in a reasonable price 6000 usd. I need your advice, should I go for it? (Only Covers front car part and lower back of the car)
Also ultra + nano guard exists in a very expensive price average of 15000 usd. Hope you can help me.

Terry

Terry

Can 3M paint protection film be applied to the underside of a brand new mower deck? I’m looking to solve the age old mower deck problem. Thanks, Terry.

Can 3M paint protection film be applied to the underside of a brand new mower deck? I’m looking to solve the age old mower deck problem. Thanks, Terry.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey RJ:

You really should ask the PPF manufacturer if that’s a good idea. I’d recommend against it because it would likely cause more issues than help. You can, however, apply a ceramic coating – which should help.

Hey RJ:

You really should ask the PPF manufacturer if that’s a good idea. I’d recommend against it because it would likely cause more issues than help. You can, however, apply a ceramic coating – which should help.

RJ

RJ

Hello, I live in the desert where it gets windy and included in the wind are bits of sand that will pit the hell out of my windshield. It can get so bad that when driving towards the sun, I cant see out of my windshield. Could I apply paint protection film to my windshield? Thx

Hello, I live in the desert where it gets windy and included in the wind are bits of sand that will pit the hell out of my windshield. It can get so bad that when driving towards the sun, I cant see out of my windshield. Could I apply paint protection film to my windshield? Thx

Mario

Mario

Hi, I want to know after installation of PPF is there any watermark, film scratches and glue mark? And it’s normal or need to redo. Thank you

Hi, I want to know after installation of PPF is there any watermark, film scratches and glue mark? And it’s normal or need to redo. Thank you

Dale Pearl

Dale Pearl

Hi Mel! A fallout cleaner usually does the trick. Armor Shield itself will not change color so this is still some form of dropping residue.

Hi Mel! A fallout cleaner usually does the trick. Armor Shield itself will not change color so this is still some form of dropping residue.

Dale Pearl

Dale Pearl

Hi Ranjith!

Armor Shield will not alter the composition of the PPF to prevent the self-healing attributes. Armor Shield is like a suit over a body. It is sacrificial. It will be the layer to first absorb the damage and exposure. The PPF will be protected by the attributes of Armor Shield! The self-healing properties won’t come into play until the ceramic coating is either compromised, damaged, or removed.

Hi Ranjith!

Armor Shield will not alter the composition of the PPF to prevent the self-healing attributes. Armor Shield is like a suit over a body. It is sacrificial. It will be the layer to first absorb the damage and exposure. The PPF will be protected by the attributes of Armor Shield! The self-healing properties won’t come into play until the ceramic coating is either compromised, damaged, or removed.

Dale Pearl

Dale Pearl

Hi Tim!

If your PPF protection is in perfect shape then after the washing and drying process simply go into the IPA. If the surface is perfect and free of scratches/imperfections You should be able to apply with the claying and or polishing.

Hi Tim!

If your PPF protection is in perfect shape then after the washing and drying process simply go into the IPA. If the surface is perfect and free of scratches/imperfections You should be able to apply with the claying and or polishing.

Ranjith N

Ranjith N

When 9h Ceramic Coat is applied over self healing ppf, will the self healing abilities of ppf still work.According to me a self healing property is established only when the top coat is soft. But if we apply a 9H Ceramic on it, how does the self healing property work?
Or is there any other specific coating for ppf to make it hydrophobic .

When 9h Ceramic Coat is applied over self healing ppf, will the self healing abilities of ppf still work.According to me a self healing property is established only when the top coat is soft. But if we apply a 9H Ceramic on it, how does the self healing property work?
Or is there any other specific coating for ppf to make it hydrophobic .

Mark Joiner

Mark Joiner

Hi Tim,
I had a PPF applied to the front end of my new car 3-4 months ago, and now I want to apply Armor Shield IX on the entire body and glass. But the installer of the PPF (Llumar, I believe) says I shouldn’t use any abrasive on the PPF, such as clay bar or polish. Any advice as to how well Armor Shield will work if I don’t polish the PPF prior to application? Is there any “best way” to prepare the PPF before applying Armor Shield, or should I just apply to a well-washed and alcohol-rubbed surface, without any other prep?

Hi Tim,
I had a PPF applied to the front end of my new car 3-4 months ago, and now I want to apply Armor Shield IX on the entire body and glass. But the installer of the PPF (Llumar, I believe) says I shouldn’t use any abrasive on the PPF, such as clay bar or polish. Any advice as to how well Armor Shield will work if I don’t polish the PPF prior to application? Is there any “best way” to prepare the PPF before applying Armor Shield, or should I just apply to a well-washed and alcohol-rubbed surface, without any other prep?

Mel

Mel

It appears bird droppings has stained the PPF. (Looks like yellowish to goldish speckles on the passenger side of the hood.)
Is there a way to remove these stains?

It appears bird droppings has stained the PPF. (Looks like yellowish to goldish speckles on the passenger side of the hood.)
Is there a way to remove these stains?

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi Andrey:

Thanks for the feedback. It’s actually accurate – well, both statements are. There are some PPF’s that are lighter and thinner than vinyl and others that are thicker and denser. PPF goes both ways, but all good. It’s still very good for protecting the paint from rock chips and other light scratches. Thanks for the feedback.

Hi Andrey:

Thanks for the feedback. It’s actually accurate – well, both statements are. There are some PPF’s that are lighter and thinner than vinyl and others that are thicker and denser. PPF goes both ways, but all good. It’s still very good for protecting the paint from rock chips and other light scratches. Thanks for the feedback.

Andrey

Andrey

Hey, excellent article (made this MUCH more clear for me)! Just wanted to point out what I think is a typo, you say “PPF is a much thinner, and lightweight version of vinyl”, but the video before that said that PPF is actually thicker.

Hey, excellent article (made this MUCH more clear for me)! Just wanted to point out what I think is a typo, you say “PPF is a much thinner, and lightweight version of vinyl”, but the video before that said that PPF is actually thicker.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey Pete:

You can use a PPF or a ceramic coating – either will protect it quite well. If you’re worried about rock chips, PPF is the best option.

Hey Pete:

You can use a PPF or a ceramic coating – either will protect it quite well. If you’re worried about rock chips, PPF is the best option.

Pete

Pete

I have a very expensive flip paint job on a range rover svr. It looks fantastic, it changes colour like a chameleon Do you think i should protect this with ppf.

Pete

I have a very expensive flip paint job on a range rover svr. It looks fantastic, it changes colour like a chameleon Do you think i should protect this with ppf.

Pete

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey RC.

Yeah, I hear ya. I’ve bought like 4 cars in over 20 years of driving, so I’m the same way. Until somebody creates a longer-lasting product, a PPF plus ceramic coating is pretty much the best you can do.

Hey RC.

Yeah, I hear ya. I’ve bought like 4 cars in over 20 years of driving, so I’m the same way. Until somebody creates a longer-lasting product, a PPF plus ceramic coating is pretty much the best you can do.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey Doug:

Thanks for the question. That’s really a tricky situation. The main pain point of PPF is that if they are left on for too long, they’ll adhere to the paint and lead to the frustrating issue you’re experiencing. This video is one that might provide some extra tips to consider. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bbgP420qc

Hey Doug:

Thanks for the question. That’s really a tricky situation. The main pain point of PPF is that if they are left on for too long, they’ll adhere to the paint and lead to the frustrating issue you’re experiencing. This video is one that might provide some extra tips to consider. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bbgP420qc

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi Diego:

Thanks for the question. A PPF already has good UV protection. The Ceramic Coating on TOP enhances the UV protection and hydrophobic properties of PPF – which is why it’s best to apply on top. If you apply below, you lose the hydrophobic enhancement of ceramic coatings. Kinda like applying wax on top of a ceramic coating.

Hi Diego:

Thanks for the question. A PPF already has good UV protection. The Ceramic Coating on TOP enhances the UV protection and hydrophobic properties of PPF – which is why it’s best to apply on top. If you apply below, you lose the hydrophobic enhancement of ceramic coatings. Kinda like applying wax on top of a ceramic coating.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey Mike:

I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for – especially with a PPF. XCEL is one of the highest-quality PPF’s out there. 3M is another top-shelf solution. The thing about the front splitter is that it’s exposed and likely to suffer damage to road debris (like cardboard boxes, sidewalks, and other hard items) that a PPF won’t protect against likely. But, I’d personally defer to the higher-grade stuff and be cautious about where I park and avoid those objects.

Hey Mike:

I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for – especially with a PPF. XCEL is one of the highest-quality PPF’s out there. 3M is another top-shelf solution. The thing about the front splitter is that it’s exposed and likely to suffer damage to road debris (like cardboard boxes, sidewalks, and other hard items) that a PPF won’t protect against likely. But, I’d personally defer to the higher-grade stuff and be cautious about where I park and avoid those objects.

RC

RC

Yeah 5-10 years is not very good at all when you are buying a car for 20 grand at a minimum and they want to charge 600-700 bucks for it, sorry. I buy cars to drive for 10-15 years.

Yeah 5-10 years is not very good at all when you are buying a car for 20 grand at a minimum and they want to charge 600-700 bucks for it, sorry. I buy cars to drive for 10-15 years.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi Steven:

I don’t have any current images of Armor Shield IX applied on a matte-finish vinyl wrap. However, It has been applied to matte paint and does not create a shine that’s naturally not there. The ceramic coating amplifies what it’s protecting. So, if the paint or wrap is glossy, it’ll appear “more glossy”. I wouldn’t suspect that it would make a matte finish, “more matte”, but it shouldn’t have a ‘negative’ impact on the luster.

Hi Steven:

I don’t have any current images of Armor Shield IX applied on a matte-finish vinyl wrap. However, It has been applied to matte paint and does not create a shine that’s naturally not there. The ceramic coating amplifies what it’s protecting. So, if the paint or wrap is glossy, it’ll appear “more glossy”. I wouldn’t suspect that it would make a matte finish, “more matte”, but it shouldn’t have a ‘negative’ impact on the luster.

Stephen Chen

Stephen Chen

Hi Tim,

Do you have any examples of what it would look like when you apply Armor Shield IX on a matte/satin wrapped car? Obviously the goal is to give extra layer of protection and hydrophobic property to the wrap, but wondering if it would make it too glossy and defeats the purpose of a matte/satin wrap. Thank you.

Hi Tim,

Do you have any examples of what it would look like when you apply Armor Shield IX on a matte/satin wrapped car? Obviously the goal is to give extra layer of protection and hydrophobic property to the wrap, but wondering if it would make it too glossy and defeats the purpose of a matte/satin wrap. Thank you.

Mike

Mike

Great post! Really informative and I like how you made the distinction between hydrophobic PPF and ceramic coatings which are taking the detailing world by storm. Silly question for you: what brand PPF would you recommend to use on the a front splitter or air dam? Would you go cheap or pick up Xpel or 3M?

Great post! Really informative and I like how you made the distinction between hydrophobic PPF and ceramic coatings which are taking the detailing world by storm. Silly question for you: what brand PPF would you recommend to use on the a front splitter or air dam? Would you go cheap or pick up Xpel or 3M?

Diego Lastra

Diego Lastra

If the ceramic coating can protect against UV, shouldn’t it be applied to the entire car first before the ppf is applied? Or does the ceramic also make the ppf resistant to UV Ray’s?

If the ceramic coating can protect against UV, shouldn’t it be applied to the entire car first before the ppf is applied? Or does the ceramic also make the ppf resistant to UV Ray’s?

Doug M

Doug M

I had 3M PPF applied in 2005 and it served me very well, until 11 years later when it quickly cracked all over and now looks like gator skin. Any thoughts on how to remove? Applying heat and getting under it is proving to be extremely tedious. I’d like to sell the car someday and right now it looks hideous.

I had 3M PPF applied in 2005 and it served me very well, until 11 years later when it quickly cracked all over and now looks like gator skin. Any thoughts on how to remove? Applying heat and getting under it is proving to be extremely tedious. I’d like to sell the car someday and right now it looks hideous.

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hi Dr. Mimi:

Thanks for reading our article and reaching out. A PPF that is professionally installed should last you for quite some time – but not sure if it’ll be 10-years, especially if its for a daily driver. The key to longevity is going to be making sure to wash the vehicle every few weeks, and reducing daily exposure to the elements. However, using those automatic car washes is going to cause havoc on your PPF and lead to premature wear and tear eventually.

One item that impacts RED colored vehicles more than others is UV Ray exposure. If the ultimate goal is to keep your car shiny, RED, and the paint in good condition, perhaps a Ceramic Coating is a better option. You’ll likely spend the same for a ceramic coating (for a professional to apply) – with about the same protection level.

Hi Dr. Mimi:

Thanks for reading our article and reaching out. A PPF that is professionally installed should last you for quite some time – but not sure if it’ll be 10-years, especially if its for a daily driver. The key to longevity is going to be making sure to wash the vehicle every few weeks, and reducing daily exposure to the elements. However, using those automatic car washes is going to cause havoc on your PPF and lead to premature wear and tear eventually.

One item that impacts RED colored vehicles more than others is UV Ray exposure. If the ultimate goal is to keep your car shiny, RED, and the paint in good condition, perhaps a Ceramic Coating is a better option. You’ll likely spend the same for a ceramic coating (for a professional to apply) – with about the same protection level.

Mimi Salamat

Mimi Salamat

Hi Tim,
I am purchasing a new Rav4 in red color. I was wondering if I should consider a PPF for my car due to its color. The dealer says that they can do it for $880 in their shop. The salesman says he has it on his own car & reapply that every 3 years. I think this would be a huge expense evert 3 years. However, every 10 years would be more reasonable. I don’t drive much & most of my drive is on streets & highways & NO dirt road. I was wondering if getting PPF is a good idea for the type areas that I am driving in. Thank you!

Hi Tim,
I am purchasing a new Rav4 in red color. I was wondering if I should consider a PPF for my car due to its color. The dealer says that they can do it for $880 in their shop. The salesman says he has it on his own car & reapply that every 3 years. I think this would be a huge expense evert 3 years. However, every 10 years would be more reasonable. I don’t drive much & most of my drive is on streets & highways & NO dirt road. I was wondering if getting PPF is a good idea for the type areas that I am driving in. Thank you!

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey SAM. That really depends on where you live. Most of the best PPF’s are ones sold and installed by detailers or auto body experts. However, there is one DIY kit by XPEL that is pretty good that you might want to consider.

Hey SAM. That really depends on where you live. Most of the best PPF’s are ones sold and installed by detailers or auto body experts. However, there is one DIY kit by XPEL that is pretty good that you might want to consider.

SAM Maknojia

SAM Maknojia

Hello Tim
I am looking for a clear PPF Film on a Clear liner like the ones sold by some online retailers.
Any idea where would we find that material.
Thanks
SAM

Hello Tim
I am looking for a clear PPF Film on a Clear liner like the ones sold by some online retailers.
Any idea where would we find that material.
Thanks
SAM

Tim Charlet

Tim Charlet

Hey Randall. Thanks for contacting us. That’s really a good question for the manufacture of your PPF, as different ones have unique curing times. It’s also a good idea to check with them to see if applying Armor Shield IX will void any warranty. While many people opt for a combination of both, we certainly don’t want to sway you the wrong way. Check with the folks that installed your PPF to get a more solid (and safer) answer on that one. Thanks again!

Hey Randall. Thanks for contacting us. That’s really a good question for the manufacture of your PPF, as different ones have unique curing times. It’s also a good idea to check with them to see if applying Armor Shield IX will void any warranty. While many people opt for a combination of both, we certainly don’t want to sway you the wrong way. Check with the folks that installed your PPF to get a more solid (and safer) answer on that one. Thanks again!

Randall Milburn

Randall Milburn

After having a 3m clear bra applied how long should I wait before applying your ceramic coating?

After having a 3m clear bra applied how long should I wait before applying your ceramic coating?

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