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Paint Protection Film: Expectations vs. Reality

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showing protection of PPF option on a Tesla Model 3 Model

Most of us want to ensure that our car stays in top condition. Thus, it is not surprising that you’ve probably heard of paint protection film. This is a thin, lightweight, ultra-strong coating that helps protect your car’s paint job from scratches, dents, and damage. However, there are many myths out there regarding paint protection film. Let’s take a look at the expectations versus reality of paint protection film for your vehicle. 

 

Most of us want to ensure that our car stays in top condition. Thus, it is not surprising that you’ve probably heard of paint protection film. This is a thin, lightweight, ultra-strong coating that helps protect your car’s paint job from scratches, dents, and damage. However, there are many myths out there regarding paint protection film. Let’s take a look at the expectations versus reality of paint protection film for your vehicle. 

 

Is It the Same as a Vinyl Wrap

 

Many people may think of paint protection film and vinyl wraps as the same type of product. After all, both involve thin coats that are placed onto vehicles with a similar process. However, the reality is that they are actually quite different in nature. 

 

A vinyl wrap is simply a coating used to change the overall appearance of a vehicle by adding graphics without the need for painting. It does not – and is not intended to – provide the level of protection that you will receive from paint protection film. 

 

A vinyl wrap is roughly 4 mils (1 mil is 1/1000 of a inch) in width while paint protection film is 8-12 mils wide. Additionally, paint protection film is typically composed of four specific layers including a polyester release liner, acrylic adhesive, polyurethane, and clear coat, which serve to provide enhanced structure and durability. 

 

It Is Very Expensive?

 

Cost is always an important consideration when it comes to evaluating choices for your vehicle. The reality is that many people will view paint protection film as an expensive treatment for your vehicle. In addition to it being a quality product, applying it involves a rigorous, time-intensive process to ensure that it is done effectively. 

 

Thus, it is common for paint protection film installation to cost anywhere in the range of several hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, the reality is that paint protection film is a great value in its ability to preserve the value of your vehicle. 

 

It is not secret that cars dramatically decrease in value due to even the smallest of dings, dents, or discolouration from things like sun and chemical exposure. Paint protection film provides a strong level of protection against damage while also serving to ensure your paint job stays pristine, meaning you’ll recoup the cost in terms of value maintained. 

 

Will my Installation Have Bubbles or Visible Seams

 

This is a common concern for people considering paint protection film. In fact, you may have even heard horror stories from people who had paint protection film installed about raised seems, large bubbles, or trapped dirt. 

 

However, the reality is that having paint protection film installed by a qualified shop will leave you with an impressive look. While there may be a few bubbles with application, these typically evaporate over a few days or weeks as the film is exposed to heat. 

 

Pre-cut installation used to have some concerns with seams; however, the improvement of PPF software means that even pre-cut paint protection film will provide an aesthetically pleasing look that will effectively protect your vehicle. 

 

Does Paint Protection Film Last for Life?

 

With paint protection film providing significant durability and protection to your vehicle, it is tempting for many people to assume that this product will last for life. However, the reality is that paint protection film is not a product that will last forever. Despite its thin nature, it is strong enough to withstand the elements but is not permanent. 

 

However, paint protection film will last a very long time. Depending upon the quality of installation, paint protection film will last between five and ten years before it needs to be replaced. This means that you will have up to a decade of protection for your vehicle, ensuring it stays looking like it just rolled off the lot. 

 

Additionally, replacing paint protection film is a relatively easy process. The product is designed so that an installer can easily remove it without leaving any residue on your vehicle’s paint. Once removed, you can either apply a new treatment for another decade of protection or simply leave the original paint. 

 

Is Paint Protection Film Difficult to Maintain? 

 

Let’s be honest. Cars require a lot of care in order to keep them in good condition. However, with the durability of paint protection film, there is not a lot that you will need to do to maintain it. In fact, maintenance on your paint protection film is very similar to maintenance on your car’s factory paint job. 

 

You will want to periodically wash your car with soap and water. Using a mild soap and water is all you need to do. One unique consideration is that you will want to avoid using pressurized water to wash your car as a pressure washer can damage paint protection film. 

 

Additionally, you will want to check ingredients of any wax you apply to your vehicle. Products with kerosene or naphtha can eat through paint protection films while products with dyes can potentially stain the clear coating. However, with paint protection film, you really do not need to use wax. 

 

Does Paint Protection Film Really Self-Heal

 

If you’ve heard people talking about paint protection film’s benefits, you’ve probably heard that the technology self-heals. While this sounds too good to be true, it is really a unique benefit of paint protection film. 

 

The self-healing properties come from the interaction between heat and the material used. If your vehicle gets hit by a rock, the paint protection film may actually tear or scratch which is permanent. However, if you get swirls and light scratches the application of heat – either from natural sunlight or a heat gun – will activate the self-healing properties and help your paint protection film mend. 

 

It is important to note that paint protection film’s self-healing properties are not permanent. They do decrease over time, which is one reason why the product needs to be replaced roughly every ten years. Still, it is a very useful feature that truly enhances the durability. 

 

Final Thoughts

 

While paint protection film does have some downsides, the reality is that it is a very durable substance that provides great benefits for your vehicle. Despite a significant upfront cost, it will pay for itself through maintaining your car’s value. A professional installer will make it look great. Meanwhile, paint protection film has self-healing properties and is relatively easy to maintain. It will have a maximum life of ten years; however, it is currently the top protective product on the market. Understanding the realities of the product is important when considering if paint protection film is the right choice for your vehicle. 

For more information about PPF or to learn more about maintaining the inside and outside of your vehicle, reach out to the automotive detailing experts at Ceramic Pro
 

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