Paint Protection Film, Do You Need It?

If you follow the world of supercars, particularly on social media, the chances are you have come across car wrapping and Paint Protection Films (PPF) - the later being the process of coating or 'wrapping' your entire car (or the areas prone to getting stone chips) in a transparent protective film to preserve the condition of the paint.

While Paint Protection Film has been around for some time the earlier versions were often quite crude when compared with the latest variations of PPF. Early films were typically quite thick, they were not purely transparent in terms of them having a slight colour tint in the film (usually yellow) that slightly changed the look of your paint and over time it was affected by sunlight that turned it even more yellow! Also it was more cumbersome to fit and it was more obvious the car had the protection applied because you could easily see the edges and seams of the application. So, not ideal.

As with so many technologies - today's paint protection films have advanced significantly, to the extent they are now self healing. Yes you read that right, the films are able to repair themselves! If the film get's a little chip or mild tear due to stone impact or light debris - over a 24 hour period (or faster in warmer temperatures) the film actually moulds it's self back to it's original form - like some crazy kind of Wolverine hybrid film. Its great. And if you have something more substantial to repair, pouring very hot water over the film (or a hair dryer) usually does the trick too. Checkout the little video I filmed below of a demo the guys at Topaz did for me while I was there a few months ago...

But do you need it?

I think this comes down to how much you love your car and perhaps how expensive it would be to respray areas of your car should any stone chips happen...and they will happen! Typically I see supercars being the type of vehicle most protected and this is obviously due to a combination of both reasons above. Owners love the cars and they are typically bloody expensive to repaint! 

F12 fresh from full body PPF

On the F12 we decided to protect the paint with a full body PPF application, this was almost a compulsory requirement as the car was spec'd with Rosso Berlinetta paint, a triple layer, pearlescent paint finish that is incredibly difficult to repair and match to other panels once damaged and therefore it's inherently stupidly expensive - so it was a no brainer on this car! But if you have a standard paint job with no fancy metallics you could get away the sensitive parts being protected - namely the front of the car, arches and wing mirrors where chips are most likely to occur.

Outside of stone chips though the best benefit in my eyes of PPF is the preservation of the detail underneath. Before having a full body film applied the car gets a thorough detail, completely decontaminating the bodywork of any imperfections and buffing it to an epic shine, the sort of show room shine that sold you the car in the first place! The difference being PPF 'freezes' that state of detail in time, preserving the paint and gloss in perfect condition to shine through the film, untouched.

With a full body protection, washing the car also becomes a lot less hassle. You could if you wanted to take your beloved supercar through a hand car wash - I still don't recommend it but PPF allows for this! And when you come to wash the car you don't need to be so careful, no need for the two bucket method or swapping between mitts every few panels to avoid scratching the clear-coat. Dirt even has a harder time sticking to PPF and rain water beads off it effortlessly.

Here are the different levels of Paint Protection Film you can apply to a car:

Standard Protection

Standard protection is the most basic of coverage, typically focusing on only the areas that are ultra-prone to getting chipped and battered by the elements. This would be the lower and very front bumper, possibly the very front of the bonnet and the wing mirrors. This is a pretty minimal level of protection that will guard agains a significant amount of potential damage - but simply by the way of the world you just know you're going to get chips in the places that haven't been covered! As a result standard protection is around £500.00

Full Frontal & Sensitive Areas

The next level up is whats knows as a full frontal application. This is pretty much everything you can see if you were to stand and look at your car head on, this would cover the entire bonnet, sometimes the front edge of the roof and even the front of the rear wheel arches, which on a supercar are typically the widest points of the car, protruding out into the line of sight of on coming debris. Full frontal is probably the most popular option because it is half the price of the complete body kit and does the job of protecting again almost all stone chips. Full frontal starts around £1,500

Complete Body 

The full monty of car protection. Obviously you get the complete paint protection that the full frontal kit provides plus the rest of the entire car, but the beauty of the complete kit is in the preservation of the paint detail and the ease of car care. With the complete body kit there is no chips anywhere, you don't need to pussy foot around when cleaning the car and there is a completely consistent finish to the whole vehicle. It comes at a cost though, typically starting at around £4,500 

So yes, what I am saying is - if you love your car - get it wrapped, at least the sensitive areas. It gives you more confidence driving the car and will pay dividends when you come to resell the vehicle in near perfect condition. That is, it doesn't protect your alloys!

Earlier this year my friend Tim aka Shmee150 got his McLaren 650S fully protected and of course he made a great video detailing (no pun intended) the process - check it out here...

If you're interested in getting your own paint protection film, I have used Topaz in the past and my Ferrari dealer has organised PPF for me too so it's always worth asking your dealer what they offer. Ideally make sure whoever you end up with uses Xpel film, this is the best self healing stuff!