Best Paint Protection Film For Car
Paint protection film (PPF) keeps your paint fresh and prevents chip damage. Discover other benefits and average costs of installing PPF.
Paint protection film (PPF) is a thin polymer that creates a transparent layer over your vehicle, acting as a shield for the paint. It is intended to protect against a number of threats, such as UV exposure, hard water deposits and even acid rain. It also stops oxidation and prevents general surface scratches if something drags along your vehicle. Because it is a thin coat, there is no visual indicator your vehicle has PPF. PPFs have multiple names, including:
Clear bra, mask or wrap
Car scratch protection.
Rock chip protection.
No matter what name is used, the process is the same. PPF is highly resistant, but it still requires some occasional maintenance. Unlike other methods to protect your paint, installing PPF is difficult. With enough automotive experience, it is possible to install your own PPF. Even if you are experienced, it is strongly recommended to hire a professional mechanic or car detailer to install PPF. Not only are they automotive experts, but they have superior tools and spaces to properly apply PPF.
Benefits of PPF
While there are other materials and techniques you can use to protect your paint, PPF is commonly the more beneficial choice. For many drivers, an important benefit of PPF is it not only applies over the body of your vehicle, but also the headlights, bumper and mirrors. The PPF keeps small rocks or tree branches from chipping at your vehicle. It also protects against sap, bird droppings or other contaminants.
PPF does not only provide protection. While the PPF itself is too thin to see, it does enhance the existing paint on your vehicle. Paint under a PPF appears shinier and more vibrant. There are also special types of PPF designed to give your paint a glossier appearance. Other brands are designed for matte finishes.
Other types of paint protection commonly leave visible marks or tracks, such as orange peel or glue spots. PPF is designed with a special adhesive, which makes it harder to install compared to other protectors, but it does not leave any visible signs along your vehicle. Because of the materials used, PPFs are also more resistant to harmful contaminants or chemicals. PPFs are resistant to UV and IR radiation as well, which provides superior paint protection and also prevents your headlights from fogging, improving your overall visibility.
If your car already has a few minor scratches along the paint, there are specialized PPFs you can purchase to fill in these areas. One example is Kavaca’s PPF, which combined with a heat gun, fills in minor scratches or dents when it is installed.
Costs and When to Apply PPF
While it is highly effective, PPF is more expensive than most other paint protection. There are several steps to installing PPF, each with a different cost. First, your vehicle must be properly cleaned before applying the PPF. Even if your car is brand-new from a dealership, you want to prepare the paint. The condition of your vehicle greatly impacts the cost, but this process can cost around $100 to $400. However, when you go to a professional, many mechanics and detailers either waive this fee as part of the general maintenance, or offer a discounted rate.
The next decision is how much of your car you want covered in PPF. This lets your mechanic know how much material they need, which factors into the price. Most businesses charge by the total square inches of film. The type of film also impacts the cost. The cost is typically between $1.50 to $5 per square inch.
The shape of your vehicle can also affect the price. IF your vehicle has raised design features or sharp contours, it is harder to install PPF around these fixtures. Some shops will include an increased maintenance fee for these vehicles. For a new, well-maintained vehicle, the process typically costs between $800 and $1,200, while older vehicles are closer to $1,000 to $1,500. While this seems expensive, PPFs are designed to last for 10 years with minimal upkeep, providing much greater long-term value than other paint protectors.
Because PPFs are more expensive to install, there are certain vehicles which benefit more from PPF. If you are leasing a vehicle, an excellent way to keep the car in top shape is PPF. Many dealers charge maintenance fees if you return the vehicle in less than pristine condition, so investing in a PPF not only keeps your leased vehicle looking good, but stops the dealership from charging you for detailing. PPFs are also best with newer vehicles because they require significantly less prep before the paint is applied. If you are driving a cheaper vehicle while saving up for a new car, it is worth waiting until you replace your vehicle. Some dealerships may even cover the costs of PPF as an incentive.
Choosing a Professional Mechanic or Detailer
One of the ways to mitigate the costs of installing PPFs is picking the right mechanic or detailer. When looking for a professional, check to see what deals are available. Many businesses provide coupons or other limited time discounts. If possible, try and schedule your appointment during the slow season, as businesses commonly offer better deals to get customers. Slow seasons vary based on location, but are typically based on weather patterns. The majority of drivers wait until good weather patterns to get their vehicle detailed, since harsh snow or rain can undo the detailing. With PPF this is not an issue, since the material is designed to withstand these conditions.
If you do not have any local mechanics or detailers near you, or you are not satisfied with their prices, there are a few major chains to look for. Midas International is one of the top auto franchises in the United States. Not only do they employ experienced technicians, but they frequently run promotions and provide generous coupons throughout the year, especially to new customers.
Meineke is another consideration. Meineke is partnered with several other repair companies, including Maaco and Carstar. Both companies specialize in auto detailing and paint repairs. Because Meineke is used to dealing with specialized requests, they typically charge less for PPF, since they have all the necessary space and equipment already available. Other chains to consider are: