Some high-end luxury car owners swear by a tried-and-true method of keeping their vehicles in mint condition: leaving them in the garage. For those of us crazy enough to actually want to drive our cars, however, there is a solution: a paint protection film. Commonly knows as a PPF, it’s a clear, thin layer of adhesive-backed vinyl that’s placed over a vehicle’s body to protect it from road debris, scratches, and even hail. Essentially, it’s a way to ensure that your shiny, new car remains shiny and new.
While there a number of PPF brands available, with varying costs and thicknesses, Xpel and 3M are the most popular ones. The amount of time your PPF will last depends on the brand you choose. Xpel’s Ultimate Plus PPF, for instance, is warrantied for 10 years. It’s 8 ml thick and consists of three layers: 1.1 ml acrylic adhesive, 6 ml polyurethane (for protecting the paint), and 0.5 ml clear coat (which helps with clarity and prevents staining). Maintaining your PPF is similar to maintaining your paintwork — it’ll require a clay bar treatment once or twice a year, and regular application of wax or sealant.
While there are several companies offering PPF, we’d suggest choosing one like Smart Detail, which specializes in surface preparation. In addition to washing the vehicle and performing a clay bar treatment, Smart Detail also includes a chemical decontamination phase (to dissolve iron particles the clay bar isn’t able to remove), and paint correction (polishing to remove imperfections such as swirls and scratches). Those additional measures ensure the PPF will last the 10 years it’s warrantied for.
Oh, and if you’re a busy guy — or are worried about damaging your car on the drive to the shop — several shops offer pick-up and drop-off services. Finally, your car will get to see the light of day.