All you need to know about PPF: yes, you can get cling film for your car
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Just as cling film adheres to surfaces and protects what lies beneath, Paint Protection Film (PPF) is a clear polyurethane film that, once applied to your vehicle’s bodywork, protects the paint.
The idea behind PPF is that it stops wear or accidental scratches on paintwork, with the additional layer of plastic film providing an invisible protective barrier without affecting your vehicle’s illustrious shine (we’re not talking about vinyl sign writing/wrapping here).
Having a matte-finish car is no problem either, as there is matte-look PPF on the market. Needless to say, PPF cannot stop the panel being dented by force.
A word of caution before we start on this: should you get a full body wrap, or even a part wrap, notify your insurance company first, as there’s usually a premium increase involved. You wouldn’t be the first person to find their $7k full body wrap is not covered after a crash.
There is cheap PPF and more expensive PPF; no need to say which one is likely to last longer and least likely to yellow or go brittle. So if you do go for a part or whole car wrap, don’t try and save a few bucks. Do it properly.
You can get PPF for those areas most likely to scratch or get stone damage, right up to the complete bonnet/front or the whole car. The former is the best value for money, with areas that are most likely to get scratched being the bumpers, door edges and behind the door handles (door cups).
Take a closer look at your car and view the scratches from your nails and rings behind the door handles; the driver’s door is usually the worst. Door edges can also be chipped from slamming into whatever was too close, so a PPF strip can reduce the damage to both the door and what it hit. The rear bumper has possibly had many heavy items make contact too and will show signs of wear, while a so-called “bonnet strip” or whole bonnet wrap will reduce stone chips on that part of the vehicle.
Again, a disclaimer here: if the rock is big enough or has got plenty of energy behind it, there is a good chance it will go through the PPF. That usually results in the PPF being damaged but not the paint, which is why the protection is there in the first place.
If you want to have more panels protected than the bare essentials, you can consider doing all of the front bumper and front side also - basically those areas that are most likely to sustain stone impact. Keep in mind that the front bumper is usually the most intricate part of the whole car and as such, relative to size, takes the most time.
From there on, you may wish to consider the whole car being at the PPF beauty salon for two to three days to get the full monty treatment - all wrapped. This has to be done at specialised locations, inside, and in a dust-free environment. Any paint correction work needs to be done prior to application as a speck of dust on the paint will be visible straight away as an imperfection in the film and more than likely will become a “blister” in the near future. If you’re going to spend all that money, you might as well get it done properly.
Should your vehicle get into an accident and the PPF is damaged, it can all be replaced easily. If it’s only a good size scratch, there may be no need to go to the panel shop for a repaint and you can just replace the PPF on that panel at the application centre or with a mobile technician for the small bits.
Otherwise it’s the panel shop first and new PPF 1-2 weeks later, depending on what needs replacing.
Washing your PPF-protected vehicle is no different to normal, but as the PPF is relatively soft, softer than the paint, wash marks can be an issue over time. Do not “cut and polish” and definitely no machine polishing. Obviously the vehicle will still get dirty, but release coatings can be applied to most PPF, some have a coating already applied. Big warning: do not waterblast PPF.
When it comes time to sell your vehicle, the PPF can either remain or be removed. If the film has been on the car for some time we suggest you get a professional to do the removal.
Take away the PPF film and hey presto, you are selling a car in pristine paint condition, which should mean a higher value to trade.