Myths and Truths about Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film

Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film: Myths and Truths

A car is a big financial investment that deserves to be protected, but it’s more than that. For many people, a vehicle is also a reflection of who they are, and the condition of that vehicle is an extension of self-image. Sadly, normal driving puts wear and tear on any vehicle over time, with a barrage of debris, dust, salt, sand, insects, bird droppings, ultraviolet light, atmospheric chemicals and weather. Paint damage is inevitable, whether it’s from a stray pebble, a door ding or just a general loss of luster under nature’s unrelenting assault. Think of rock chip protection film as a sort of force field around the paint that prevents this deterioration.

Myths and Truths about Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film

Paint protection film is made from military grade urethane backed with an adhesive that’s formulated to resist bubbling and optical degradation. This “second skin” protects the paint from dust, damaging chemicals and road debris, protecting your investment and maintaining that “new car look.”

But there are different types of films, adhesives and ways of applying them, which can be confusing when you’re trying to decide if this is a good option for your vehicle. In this article, we’ll explore myths and truths about professional grade films, as well as the pros and cons of do-it-yourself kits versus professional installation, so you can make an informed decision.

Truth: Thermoplastic Urethane Film was Developed for Military Use

Vehicle rock protection film is made from thermoplastic urethane, a material that was originally designed to protect helicopter rotor blades from debris and other flight hazards. The film then became available for commercial use by new vehicle manufacturers. Now the technology is widely available for repair and aftermarket applications, with templates available to fit virtually any vehicle. Like a coat of wax, the material is virtually invisible, but unlike waxing, protective film looks great on matte paint finishes, as well as gloss finishes. And it lasts many times longer than wax.

Myths and Truths about Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film

Truth: Rock Chip Protection Film can be Washed and Waxed

We wax our vehicles to protect the paint and maintain resale value, and waxing is effective, but it’s only a temporary measure. Thermoplastic urethane film is a longer term solution that can be installed on the hood, side mirrors, fenders and other panels, and it doesn’t require you to change your normal car care habits. You can still wash and wax your vehicle, just like you always have, to maintain a clean, polished appearance.

Myth: Protective Film is Expensive

Rock protection film costs considerably more than a tin of Turtle Wax, but it’s a small investment compared to the cost of a new paint job, and it lasts for years. Custom paint jobs are especially good candidates for protective film because they can be particularly expensive to redo if you have damage, but no auto paint job is cheap, so urethane film is a cost effective protectant for any vehicle.

Myth: Urethane Film Doesn’t Last Long

There’s a reason that many protection film installations have multi-year warranties: this stuff is tough. Not only does it last years, but it also protects the paint beneath from damaging ultraviolet radiation, retaining the paint color and finish for years. With proper, professional installation, these adhesive films will perform well for years.

Myths and Truths about Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film

Myth: The Film Can’t Be Removed

Some types of film and vehicle wraps can be difficult to remove without damaging the paint, so this is not a complete myth. At APR, we use professional grade film with a patented adhesive that leaves no residue when removed, even after months and years. With professional installation, you should have no damage to paint, should you decide to remove or redo your film at a later time.

Myth: You Can Do It Yourself

The quality of the film itself is important, but equally important is the quality of the installation, if you want your rock chip protection to last. Adhesive film leaves no room for error because you only get one chance to place it on the vehicle. Make a mistake, and you’ll have to buy a new piece of film. If you fail to completely remove all dust and contaminants from the vehicle’s surface before application, you’ll have to buy a new piece of film. Simply stated, this product is not easy to apply, and it’s a job best left to professionals.

Yes, there are cheap, do-it-yourself kits available for many vehicles, but clean, accurate application requires skill, practice and a clean work environment. APR technicians are experienced installers who use professional tools in a dust-free setting that assures your film installation will look great for years, with no bubbles or adhesion problems.

Myths and Truths about Vehicle Rock Chip Protection Film

Truth: Urethane Wraps Keep Car and Truck Paint Looking New

Urethane film helps paint hold its color and shine by filtering UV radiation and shielding against dust, debris, insects, bird droppings, atmospheric contaminants and just about anything else that can degrade vehicle paint. It even protects against minor door dings and parking lot damage. If you really care about your vehicle’s paint, rock chip protection is a worthwhile investment.

Questions? Call our rock chip protection experts at (316) 262-8888 or visit the shop at 1100 South Washington in Wichita, KS.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

This is an important question because headlights are an integral—yet often neglected—part of driving safety. To understand the importance of headlight maintenance, let’s take a look at the effects of lens condition on nighttime visibility. Here are a few startling facts you may not know:

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

1. Forty percent of all fatal car accidents happen at night. And reduced visibility contributes to many of them. This is a problem that can affect young and old people, alike. Fifty-eight percent of all crashes involving teens occur after 9 p.m., and recent studies show that the average 50-year-old drivers needs twice as much light as the average 30-year-old driver to safely see nighttime road hazards.

2. Hazy headlights can cut visibility in half. So that’s a 75 percent light reduction for the average 50-year-old! But clear headlight lenses make a huge difference, at any age.

3. Motorists traveling at moderate to high speeds in darkness can give themselves up to four seconds of additional reaction time by restoring foggy headlight lenses.

Prevention of Reduced Nighttime Visibility

Headlights are obviously a crucial driving safety feature, but headlight maintenance extends beyond the changing of a light bulb from time to time. Keeping your headlight lenses clear is as crucial as keeping your windshield clean. Most cars spend much of their lives exposed to UV rays, rain, snow, debris and atmospheric pollution. Over time, these conditions cause yellowed, hazy headlight lenses.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

How Headlights Work

Headlight illumination is produced using one of two designs: projector or reflector technology. Projector headlights focus light by directing it through a lens into the right pattern on the road. Reflector technology uses a smaller light source that is “bounced” from a surrounding, reflective housing. In either case, foggy lenses diminish the intensity and projection pattern of the light.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

Types of Headlight Bulbs

There are several bulb types on the market, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Halogen lights are the most popular. They are composed of a filament surrounded by halogen gasses encased in glass. They are usually cheaper than other bulbs, but they often last longer than other designs.

Xenon bulbs, also known as High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, produce the brightest light of all the designs, and they do it at lower temperatures than halogen. The distinct blue color is a product of the xenon gases used to create the illumination. They typically cost more than other bulbs, but they’re brighter and more energy efficient than halogen.

LED or Light Emitting Diode headlights are made up of hundreds of small light light sources. LEDs are very bright and need very little power to operate. However they require electronic control systems to function, and a component failure in the control system can result in complete headlight failure.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

Why Headlights Discolor

The lenses that cover headlight bulbs are commonly made with high-tech plastic. But even these materials breakdown and discolor over time due to heat and all the environmental factors mentioned above, reducing the amount of light available to illuminate the road during nighttime driving.

Professional Headlight Restoration

Replacing old bulbs may restore some headlight brightness, but it won’t help with the primary cause of light loss: hazy lenses. Refurbishing the lenses can restore headlights to up to 95 percent of their original clarity. APR offers professional headlight restoration services using industrial-grade tools and polishing media. After restoring the headlights back to a clear finish, our professionals apply a waterproof, UV-protective, weather-resistant coating to battle the extreme conditions that the headlights will continue to encounter under normal use.

Do-It-Yourself/DIY Headlight Restoration

There are ways to restore your own headlights, but they’re generally less effective than professional methods, and they can damage surrounding paint, chrome and the lenses themselves.

One popular method of DIY headlight restoration is to rub insect repellent on the lenses. It definitely clears the lenses, but it does so by slightly melting the plastic surface, compromising its integrity and ultimately causing more dust and contaminants to stick to the lens.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

Toothpaste is another solution that uses at-home materials to clean up the haziness. Again, it does the job, but the abrasives used in toothpaste are not designed for headlight use, and the results can be varied. This method can also dull any chrome or paint around the headlights. Professional technicians use strictly specified polishing media, and they meticulously mask off surrounding hardware to avoid damage.

DIY headlight restoration kits provide polishing compounds, buffing pads and sanding media, but the procedures can be difficult to perform correctly, and the process is time consuming.

How Often Should You Inspect Your Headlight Lenses?

You probably perform a number of regular maintenance tasks on your car or truck: you change the oil, replace the air filter, rotate the tires, and so on. But even the most conscientious drivers often neglect the headlights in their maintenance schedules. The best policy is to put a reminder on your calendar to inspect the headlight lenses once a year, maybe more, if you drive a lot of miles. When they start looking dull—and they will, eventually—give us a call at APR. Headlight restoration costs a small fraction of the price of a replacement assembly, and it can make a dramatic difference in your nighttime driving safety.

Does Headlight Restoration Really Help Nighttime Visibility?

All About Window Tinting

All About Window Tinting

Window tinting is a relatively low-cost way to give your vehicle a new touch of class, an added elegance that transforms a previously ordinary car or truck into an eye-catching road machine. But it’s not just an ornamental luxury; it also enhances your overall comfort and driving experience. In this article, we’ll cover the whole spectrum of window tinting knowledge, so you can make an informed decision if you’re considering adding it to your ride.

All About Window Tinting

The Benefits

For most of us, a car or truck is something of a personal statement, like classy clothes or a nice home, so the cosmetic enhancement that window tinting bestows on a vehicle—for a relatively small investment—is definitely a big benefit. But window tinting can also block up to 99 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays. This lowers your risk of skin cancer and keeps your interior from fading and cracking. In terms of heat reduction, window tinting film keeps your car’s interior an average of 60 percent cooler. It’s provides a considerably more comfortable driving experience in the summer, and it may save you a couple of bucks on fuel because you don’t have to run the air conditioner as much.

Darker windows also make it more difficult to see what’s inside your vehicle, like the stereo, the GPS, and other valuables. Most thieves are less likely to spend the extra time it takes to evaluate the rewards of breaking into a car if they can’t easily see inside.

Window Tint Installation

Installation is a fast process but one that takes skill and expertise. The procedure usually doesn’t take more than an hour or two and can be a relatively cheap customization. Some shops even offer services starting at $50. The process is one of precision and craftsmanship, as the tint adheres to the glass immediately as it’s applied, and therefore not easily removed. Do-it-yourselfers sometimes find themselves feeling like they’ll be been caught in a spider web, and poor workmanship can lead to bubbling.

All About Window Tinting

The State of the Art of Window Tinting

Basic window tinting technology was born in the 1960s when 3M introduced a flexible film that blocked UV rays. In recent decades, the technology has found its way into auto glass applications, but tint films and application techniques vary from shop to shop, and the cheapest option is seldom the best one.

There are even DIY kits available to do your own window tinting, but kits—as well as lower quality professional installations—can leave you with discoloration and bubbling a few months after application, so it’s important to find a good window tinting shop with a proven track record. Your window tint should look great when it rolls out of the shop, free of wrinkles, discoloration, bubbles and scratches. These kinds of impairments interfere with driver visibility, reduce the life span of the product, and let’s face it: they look awful, which is not what you’re going for when you get a window tint.

Removal and Updating

When it’s done well, and high-quality materials are used, window tinting should last at least 10 years. Still, like any other part of your vehicle, the film should be maintained with proper cleaning, and it should be replaced if damaged areas or natural wear start interfering with driver visibility.

Window Tint Care

Window tint film is tough stuff, but a little common sense in order, if you want to keep it looking great:

1. Cleaning

It’s best to wait one to two weeks after initial installation before cleaning the film because the mounting adhesive needs time to cure properly and fully adhere to the glass. After that, any glass cleaner—or plain old soap and water—work great. Use only a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scrapes and scratches. Avoid abrasive scrubbing techniques, paper towels and bristle brushes. Clean your film often to keep it free of dirt and debris, as this can cause minor scratches during cleaning.

All About Window Tinting

2. A Little Extra Care

Use caution when you load and unload the vehicle cabin, being careful not to scrape objects against the film. And pay a little more attention to safety belts as you put them on and take them off, as some of the hardware many blemish the film.

Window Tinting Laws in Kansas and Elsewhere

Extremely dark window tints can make people inside the vehicle invisible to people on the outside, and some state and local law enforcement agencies consider this a safety concern for their officers, who want to be able to see inside vehicles during traffic stops. Some states have no regulations whatsoever, some limit tint darkness to 20 percent visible light transmission (an 80 percent reduction in visibility), while others only allow 70 percent. In Kansas, 35 percent is the maximum allowed. Here’s the Kansas regulation.

Some window films contain metallic components, giving them a mirrored look. Not only does this have the advantage of reflecting more light, it can also repel more glare and heat. However, some states have laws about reflective window tint, as it may momentarily blind other drivers.

All About Window Tinting

A Good Investment in Your Driving Experience

Window tinting is a relatively inexpensive addition to any vehicle. It improves your driving comfort, enhances vehicle security and guards against harmful ultraviolet radiation. Oh, and it makes your car or truck look sharp, really sharp. If you’re thinking about a new tint for your vehicle, give us a call at (316) 262-8888. We’ll have you looking and feeling cooler in no time, without breaking the bank.