Car Protection Films: Myth & Facts
Every vehicle paint job, no matter how beautiful it is in the beginning, takes a beating over time. Weather, dust, gravel and atmospheric elements chip, fade and generally dull the paint; it’s inevitable—and sad. But there is a way to slow the process: car protection film (also called rock chip protection film). Properly installed, this high-tech plastic membrane is invisible, and it can help shield your paint job from abrasives, gravel, chemicals and the dulling effects of ultraviolet radiation. But with the variety of films and application methods out there, you may have heard mixed reviews about the technology. In this article, we’ll take a look at some myths and facts regarding car protection films, so you can make an informed decision if you’re considering it for your vehicle.
What Is Paint Protection Film?
Paint protection film is a durable, high-grade, colorless urethane film. Whether it’s applied to most of the car or only to the high-impact areas, this film can protect your car from abuse for years. High-impact areas include but are not limited to: side mirrors, rocker panels, bumpers and basically any surface facing the front or bottom of the vehicle. Not only does the film shield your paint from unwanted damage, but because it’s completely clear,it allows your car’s paint job to shine through.
How It Works
Urethane is a tough and versatile polymer. Unlike many films and plastics, urethane is not brittle and does not crack and break down over time. It’s so flexible, in fact, that it can be stretched and shaped around the curves of a vehicle body. It seals out moisture to prevent the growth of mildew and fungus. And it’s so strong that the same technology is used to protect boats, ships, mining equipment, helicopter blades and aerospace components.
There’s a lot of information out there about paint protection films, both good and bad. Let’s take a look at a few myths that shouldn’t dissuade you from considering the technology for your car or truck.
Paint Protection Film Discolors over time(False)
You may have heard stories about a film that has discolored and no longer matches the paint on untreated areas. Don’t worry: this was true until about a decade ago, but research has long since shown that it wasn’t the film yellowing; it was the adhesive used to bind the film to the body of the car. With some early adhesives, UV rays caused oxidation, resulting in the discoloration.
But this is a thing of the past if you buy a high quality film. The premium car films/adhesives now used by reputable installers are UV resistant, which prevents discoloration. If you see discolored film on a vehicle today, it means the installer either used an outdated or very low quality film product. So it’s important to work with an experienced shop that has plenty of positive customer reviews.
Films are not Durable Enough (False)
Another rumor is that paint protection film isn’t as tough as advertised. But the fact is that this technology was originally developed to stand up to the toughest situations and environments encountered by military equipment. Sure, there are limits to any technology, but a high-quality film provides an astonishing amount of protection.
Protective Films Don’t Last Long (False)
The fact that high-quality films come with manufacturer warranties speaks volumes. It’s not in their financial interest to replace a product that wears out after a few years.
Now that we’ve laid to rest some of the myths about urethane protection films, let’s take a look at the facts:
Paint Holds its Luster Longer with Urethane Protection
Because urethane protects from chips, dust abrasion, atmospheric chemicals and UV radiation, your car’s paint job will last longer, maybe several years longer if you protect it with urethane. This is true of both gloss and matte finishes.
A Well-Installed Film Should Last Years
When you have urethane film professionally installed, you can expect it to look good for at least 5-7 years under normal driving conditions.
Paint Protection Film is Self Healing
Car protection films are made up of multiple layers, and the top layer is a clear coat made of continuously remoldable plastic, which allows the film to heal itself, literally flowing back together over small areas of damage. The next layer is the tough urethane film, and the bottom layer is the adhesive, designed to be as flexible as the urethane itself.
Automotive paint protection film layers
The Film Can Be Removed
When high quality films are removed,the acrylic adhesives leave no residue, and they do not peel paint off.
It Does Require Some Maintenance
Urethane film is truly amazing, but it’s not an indestructible force field. You should wash your car regularly to prevent chemical build-up, and bird droppings should be cleaned off as soon as possible. But with regular maintenance, a high quality film will protect your vehicle for many years to come.