Pros and Cons of Car Paint Protection Films (PPF)

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instaling ppf by using a heat gun

Lately, a paint protection film (PPF), a.k.a clear bra, is becoming increasingly popular. Just like any other paint protection product, paint protection films also have advantages and disadvantages.

I decided to showcase all the pros and cons of paint protection films for you.

Advantages of Paint Protection Film

Let’s first start with the most important pros of paint protection film (PPF), also known as a clear bra for cars. 

1. Preventing Scratches and Rock Chips

No doubt, PPF is the best type of paint protection when it comes to protecting a car’s clear coat from scratches, swirl marks, and rock chips. Usually, PPF is around 4-10 mils thick. Furthermore, the more you pay, the thicker PPF you’ll get. 

If you want extreme protection from scratches, you should opt for a thicker PPF. However, thicker PPF is harder to install, so keep that in mind.

2. PPFs Have Self-Healing Properties

One of the best things about PPFs is that you can quickly heal most lighter scratches from them. For instance, if someone scratched your car with a key and he didn’t go through the PPF, you can easily fix it by using a heat gun.

When heated, the paint protection film will return to its original state, making all the scratches disappear. This is called self-healing, and paint protection films are the only type of paint protection that have this ability. 

3. Longevity

Clear bras last much longer than most other paint protection products. They’ll easily outlive any car wax or sealant. The only real competitor is ceramic coating, which can (if maintained properly) last similarly to protection films. 

Related: PPF vs Ceramic Coating

Longevity depends on the quality of the product. So, if you want the highest longevity, you should always buy high-quality PPFs, which cost more money. For most PPFs, you can expect them to last anywhere between 3-10 years with proper maintenance.

4. Clear Bra Is Perfect For Protecting Headlights

Fixing oxidized headlights is a pain in the butt for most car detailers. Not because it’s hard to do it, but because they’ll quickly oxidize again.

When you install a PPF on headlights, it’ll usually last +3 years, which is awesome. It’ll keep headlights safe from stone chips and weather conditions such as UV rays, etc. 

5. Great For Company Vehicles

Paint protection films are a fantastic choice for company vehicles. Usually, multiple workers drive company vehicles, and they’re usually neglected. The paint protection film is the best way to at least secure the paint beneath the film.

I’ve seen many cars that have clear bras on some areas only that are exposed to rock chips and scratches the most (front bumper, hood, rear bumper, etc.). That saves a bunch of money for companies because they don’t have to pay paint corrections all the time. 

Disadvantages of Paint Protection Film 

There are some disadvantages of paint protection films that you should consider as well.

1. Reducing The Shine of Your Car

Paint protection films are usually much thicker than waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings. And because of that, they may reduce the shine of your vehicle’s paint. The film just can’t be perfectly smooth as the clear coat can. 

Luckily, you can always wax or ceramic coat vehicles with PPF, which will improve the cars’ appearance. Just make sure to use the proper types of waxes. 

2. PPF Is Very Expensive

Installing a paint protection film is extremely expensive compared to all the other methods of paint protection, even when compared to ceramic coatings. If you want the whole car to be covered in PPF, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 and $7,000.

Of course, the price may vary based on your location and the quality of clear bra materials. Removing paint protection films require professional knowledge as well.

3. Some Clear Bras Discolor Over Time

Even though a clear bra may last up to 10 years with proper maintenance, it may discolor with time. If the paint protection film becomes yellowish, you’ll have to strip it off and apply a new film – which will cost the same as the first time you applied it.

Nowadays, all high-end companies that produce PPF don’t have these problems. That’s another reason why I suggest buying from paint protection films from reputable companies only.

4. Paint Protection Film Is Hard To Install

If you want to install paint protection films yourself, you should know that the installation process is very hard. The learning curve is extremely steep, and from my experience, a complete beginner can’t do it.

There are a lot of things you need to learn in order to install a clear bra on your vehicle. For instance, you can wax a car even if you’re a complete beginner, and you’ll probably do everything fine.

If you make some mistakes while applying PPF, the cost of fixing it may be a little bit higher. So, that’s why you should always take it to professionals with enough experience.  

5. Car Isn’t Easier To Clean

When people install paint protection on their vehicles, they expect it to be easier to wash and maintain clean. However, when it comes to paint protection films, they don’t make the car easier to clean. You’ll even have to buy specific soaps designed for washing cars with clear bras. 

The reason lies in the hydrophobic properties of PPFs. Usually, they don’t have such good hydrophobic properties as waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings. And that’s why the dirt might wash off a bit tougher. 

6. If PPF Tears, You Need To Replace It

If, somehow, the PPF tears, you will have to replace the whole part. Even though it’s not a big deal for most people – because it still prevents the paint from being scratched, you should still know it. 

Also, if the clear bra starts to peel off (which is highly possible if you’re not careful enough), you’ll have to replace that part completely. 

7. Pressure Washing May Damage PPF Corners

When pressure washing your car, you should be very careful if you have a PPF installed on your vehicle. You should avoid pointing the wand near the edges of car body parts because that’s where the edge of PPF will be, too. 

High pressure may peel off the film, and the cost of fixing it may be expensive. In my opinion, that’s a big disadvantage of PPFs since you don’t have those kinds of problems with waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings. 

Who is PPF For?

As you can see from all the pros and cons that I showed you, paint protection films aren’t for every car owner. 

You should install PPF on your car if:

  • It’s a company vehicle that many people drive.
  • If you want extreme protection against scratches and rock chips but don’t care about car paint shine so much.
  • If you’re a new driver that often touches the wall when parking.
  • If installing cost isn’t a problem for you.

Also, the most cost-effective solution is to install paint protection film on a few body parts only. And actually, that’s what most people do. Mostly, people put it on the front and rear bumper, headlights, and hood. Other parts of cars aren’t so exposed to all the potential dangers on the road. 

If you decide to put PPF on your car, make sure to buy them from high-quality brands such as:

  • Xpel
  • Avery
  • 3M
  • Steak

Conclusion

Even though paint protection films offer your car incredible scratch and rock chip protection, there are some big disadvantages that should be taken into consideration. The biggest issue I see is the cost of installing clear bras on vehicles. It’s just too high, but it’s justified because it’s not easy to apply. 

In my opinion, for most drivers and car lovers, applying waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings is a much better and cheaper option.

infographic, pros and cons of ppf

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