When you purchase a new car it’s only normal to want to put the best systems in place to protect and preserve your investment. Living on the Sunshine Coast we are lucky that generally, our roads are pretty great, but our beautiful outdoor lifestyle means our vehicles are often being driven around or parked outside so they’re more vulnerable to potential harm. There’s the possibility someone could accidentally dent or scratch your vehicle, and of course, there’s always the high chance of having your paint chipped by flying debris while driving.
Paint protection film is the perfect way to prevent damage like this. On top of that, it looks super sleek, lasts for years, and can save you from needing a respray!
Here at Clean Getaway, we are passionate about educating our customers on what type of protections are available and what option is best for them.
So let’s get started, what is paint protection film?
The fundamental purpose of paint protection film – or PPF – is to protect your vehicle from the impact of debris and harmful scratches so the factory paint stays in pristine condition. The optically clear film also has ‘self-healing’ properties, meaning when it is exposed to high temperatures, light scratches and swirls literally disappear!
When it comes to PPF the most common question we get asked is always “is paint protection film like a vinyl wrap?”. The answer to this is not so simple. While PPF and vinyl share similar aspects, they are also very different at the same time. PPF is a polymer made mostly of urethane which gives it incredible elasticity that provides the self-healing properties mentioned above. Vinyl wrap is a blend of polyvinyl chloride – or PVC as most people know it – polymer which is also flexible and can have colour added to it. However, it’s much thinner and will break down rapidly. Vinyl wrap and PPF are also installed very differently and designed for different purposes.
Will the paint protection film be easily seen on my car?
PPF has evolved over the years from originally being used by the military during the Korean War to protect the blades on helicopters (when looks didn’t matter) to now being practically invisible paint protection for vehicles.
We understand the idea of wrapping your prized possession can be a little concerning, especially if you’ve seen some…not so nice…vehicle wrapping in the past.
When PPF is installed professionally all exposed edges will be fully wrapped over so panels such as bonnets and doors will be seamless – it’s nearly impossible to identify they’ve even been wrapped. However, with a panel such as the front bumper which meets ‘edge-to-edge’ with the front guard, the PPF will need to sit approximately 1-2mm from the edge of the panel. If the film is installed right to the edge, it can take on dirt and lift, and it’s also impossible to wrap these areas without fully pulling the car apart.
Some DIY kits are created to sit 10-15mm from all edges for ease of installation, but this leaves a lot of paint vulnerable and unprotected, and you can often tell there’s a film on the car.
How long does paint protection film take to install and can I do it myself?
This will vary depending on how experienced the installer is and how many people are working on the vehicle. Most PPF kits can be installed in a day with two technicians, but the car shouldn’t be handed back for another day or two as the PPF is installed using a slip solution and needs time to dry out so the work can be inspected. Sometimes when wrapping the film under the panel (for a seamless finish) you need to allow the film to dry out overnight and apply diluted alcohol to excite the adhesion to the panel. Minor ‘shortcuts’ can result in mistakes that will cost the shops hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, depending on how big and time-consuming the panel is.
If you were to install PPF yourself, ideally, you’d want to buy two kits so that you can practice and learn on the first and properly install the second kit. The film can tear and, if not worked with carefully, it can unintentionally be damaged due to lifting, heat burns, fingerprint stamping, or inexperienced scoring on the painted surface. The cost of installing PPF yourself might save you upfront, but it could cause potential damage to your panels and you might not be happy with the end result.
In short, to ensure the PPF is seamless and installed well, it’s best to leave it to a professional with vast experience.
How much does paint protection film cost?
The cost of having PPF installed professionally can range from shop to shop. When deciding where to go it’s important to understand what brand and model of film is being used, what the warranty covers, and if there are any guarantees on the installation. You should also research what is being done prior to the film installation such as preparation and polishing.
Having a front bumper alone wrapped could start from $900, and to wrap a whole vehicle will cost over $7000 and take a week to complete. The service should always include a free inspection after a month to ensure everything is going smoothly, and it also gives the installer a chance to fine-tune if required.
You can buy cheap PPF online, but when done professionally it is more durable, optically clear, and lasts longer.
Should I get paint protection film or ceramic coating?
The real question here is, why don’t you get both? Paint protection film and ceramic coatings provide two very different types of protection for your vehicle. A ceramic coating prevents bird poo etching and UV damage, but you leave the stone chip and graze protection for the big brother – paint protection film.
Most customers who get PPF don’t have their whole vehicle wrapped and just focus on the most known vulnerable areas of the vehicle and then protect the remaining surfaces with a quality ceramic coating. It’s also wise for the PPF installer to coat over the PPF with a ceramic coating as it then helps protect the film and enhances the hydrophobic characteristics allowing for easy maintenance. There is a substantial difference in price between the two services but at the same time, you’re very likely to get your money back when it comes to ROI with PPF and a ceramic coating.
Is it really worth it on the Sunshine Coast?
Short answer – yes!
As our beautiful city grows, so too does the number of roadworks and other drivers to be mindful of. The never-ending expansion of our highways and residential estates is a haven for loose debris and rocks. The Sunshine Coast also isn’t the driest part of Australia and when it rains – it pours – causing potholes and loose bitumen.
Unfortunately, the roads are not the only thing to consider. Other vehicle doors can be opened onto yours, trollies, bikes, and prams can accidentally brush past your paint or birds can even land on your vehicle. Despite the Coast being known to be a chilled and laid-back area, there is also a lot of hustle and bustle.
If you’re still considering whether PPF is best suited for you and your vehicle, it’s definitely worth asking around! Call your local installer, join Facebook groups or ask friends if they have it.
Most installers will also have their own vehicle wrapped so you can see their work. PPF isn’t for everyone and perhaps a ceramic coating would be better suited. There’s nothing wrong with testing PPF out by wrapping a single (or portion of a) panel to ‘try before you buy’ to really see if it lives up to your expectation.