Pros and Cons of Car Paint Protection Films (PPF)


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instaling ppf by using a heat gun

There are many types of paint protection products for cars, and choosing the right one for your needs is especially important. 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. Today, I’ll show you all the pros and cons of PPF.

Waxes, sealants, ceramic coatings, paint protection films – they all have their good and bad sides. I think that it’s extremely important to know them before deciding which form of paint protection to choose. That way, you’ll know what to expect and whether that paint protection product will work for you or won’t. 

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. It’s Great at 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. You Can Fix Light Scratches With Heat Gun

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, paint protection film will return to its original state, making all the scratches disappear. However, if the scratch completely tears the film, it’s not fixable. 

3. PPFs Last Longer Than Other Paint Protection Products

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

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. They’re Perfect For Headlights Protection

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. Even if you apply some kinds of coatings, they’ll mostly last only up to 12 months. 

But, if you put 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. Fantastic Choice For Company Vehicles

In my opinion, paint protection films are a fantastic choice for company vehicles. Usually, more 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, which is important because once the company has to sell that car. 

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. 

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Disadvantages of Paint Protection Film 

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t write a few bad things about paint protection films, and I can tell you, there are more cons of PPF than you might think. 

1. May Reduce 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. It’s Extremely Expensive

Applying paint protection film coat is extremely expensive when 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. 

3. PPF May Discolor With 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.

Usually, high-quality PPFs won’t discolor so easily, but it may always happen, and the fix isn’t cheap at all. 

4. It’s Hard To Install It

The learning curve for applying paint protection films on vehicles is extremely steep, and that makes it a no-no product for most DIYers or beginners at auto detailing. For instance, you can learn to wax a car in a day, and even if you do something wrong, the fix is cheap. 

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 apply paint protection to their vehicle, 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 Tear, 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. You Need To Be Careful When Using a Pressure Washer

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 Should Install PPF On Their Car? My Recommendation

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

In my opinion, 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, hehe
  • 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. 

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

  • Xpel
  • Avery
  • 3M
  • Stek

Conclusion

Even though paint protection films offer your car incredible scratch and rock chips 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 daily drivers and car lovers, applying waxes, sealants, or ceramic coatings is a much better and cheaper option. 

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