DIY installation: paint protection film

Discussion in 'Prime Main Forum (2017-Current)' started by jmarkd7, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:42 PM.

  1. jmarkd7

    jmarkd7 Member

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    This is my second Prime. On my first one, the front bumpers collected a lot of pits and bugs, and the front of the hood caught some rock chips.

    To mitigate this, I ordered some 3M paint protection (12”x84” and 6”x84”) film off Amazon and a plastic squeegee with felt on one side. I watched some YouTube videos to see how to do it and started at the tailgate bumper.

    Use two spray bottles (1) with soapy water and and (2) with rubbing alcohol mix. A heat gun helps with conforming to curves- but too much heat will melt the plastic film, causing it to be waste. So make your mistakes on the back and with small pieces of film.

    It took a few hours. The soapy water prevents the film from sticking to your car until you squeegee it all out (and dry it with the alcohol mix). I used the 6” wide tape on the front bumper so the lines are visible and it doesn’t look perfect. But the hood came out nice. I did the curved front piece plus a few inches on the actual hood (in the photo you can see the line). I will do the tailgate this weekend just to prevent bags and boxes from scuffing the bumper as I slide them in/out of the hatch.

    Some people do their whole hood or even their whole car but I just wanted to protect the trouble spots. It might be worth getting more and doing the sides where people ding you in parking lots.

    I had a crummy blade, I recommend using a surgical scalpel.

    DE97D468-757F-4F83-97EB-EAFBBB23DA49.jpeg DE63A839-F15A-45E2-8827-86B577283B30.jpeg 6168E526-3483-4EAC-B655-E756EFA736DF.jpeg 953A85D8-C609-4E61-88DC-B48A87943E96.jpeg
     
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  2. schja01

    schja01 Active Member

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    Two of my friends had this film applied professionally. Both commented that it really did little to protect against rock dings.
     
  3. m8547

    m8547 Member

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    My SUV came with clear bra from the previous owner. I haven't noticed any rock chips where the film is, but I guess I haven't looked that closely. It's also higher up, which might make a difference. It probably had it from the dealer, so the film is 11 years old now and starting to look a little bad, slightly yellow and hazy.

    Has anyone put protective film on the headlights? I suspect these would be super expensive to replace if the lenses ever get cloudy. There are restorer kits, but that seems like a temporary fix. But of course it would be worse if the adhesive from the film somehow damaged the lenses by itself.
     
  4. jmarkd7

    jmarkd7 Member

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    In this video they install the film on the entire car, including the headlights.

    I don't expect the film to prevent an impact from denting the body, but I do expect it will stop scratches from branches and road debris as well as pits from sand and small rocks. Hopefully the dead bugs won't stay on the plastic like they did on my other Prime.
     
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  5. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    A problem I see with using those protective film is that people use them to make the car look better, but it doesn't. They are not as durable as the paint it is protecting and they tend to look worse as time passes. Certainly removing the film will reveal pristine unscratched paint at some point, but no one is going to see that as long as the film is on. It may be a good investment if you are trying to sell the car later, but I wonder if the cost and effort is worth. Well, this is from someone who seldom washes and never wax a car. I guess, I really don't care much about how the car looks, as long as it runs well. ;)
     
  6. m8547

    m8547 Member

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    You're probably right, which is why most people don't have it on their cars. I think having it on the headlights makes sense, once it's cloudy peel it off and put a fresh layer on.

    I also like having it on my SUV since I sometimes drive past bushes or tree branches on narrow 4wd roads. But I could use it on the sides more than the front (but that would be really expensive). After 11 years it's just getting to the point where I might want to peel it off in a couple years, so that's pretty good.

    It will look decent for longer than most people own their cars, on average, so it might be worth it not to worry about damage to the paint during that time.
     
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  7. Robert Holt

    Robert Holt Senior Member

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    I applied this film at on our Gen 3 at 20,000 miles before a trip to Alaska during which we drove long distances on gravel roads. Now at 84,000 miles it does seem to have prevented the typical minor paint chips on the front nose of the car, but the film edges have accumulated a slight layer of grime that is very difficult to remove and makes the film edges more noticeable. I was trying to take a picture of its condition just now , but the car is covered in snow and rain, so a picture would be misleading. But the film has both adhered well and lasted 4 1/2 years.
     
  8. m8547

    m8547 Member

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    How it holds up probably depends on the color of the car. My SUV is dark gray, so very slight yellowing, hazyness, and dirt along the edge isn't really noticeable. I imagine it would look bad quickly on a white car.
     
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  9. SFO

    SFO Senior Member

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    Any links, or prices paid for the purchased products?
     
  10. jmarkd7

    jmarkd7 Member

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    $80 all in.

    Most expensive item was the wide roll, 12”x84” $45:


    $24 for the 6” wide 84” long:


    Squeegees are $7-8, many choices. I bought a kit with razor blades but they were shite.
     
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  11. Robert Holt

    Robert Holt Senior Member

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    Well, conditions are currently unfavorable (that is, IFR), but if you look closely where the arrow points you can see the film applied on either side of tbe air intake area. The edges are not very noticeable but do have a bit of dirt in them.
    I bought my film from Amazon but as that was 4 1/2 years back I cannot retrieve the exact link. My recollection is that I went with a brand name like 3M and possibly that I chose the thickest available film. I think I did a preliminary cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and after that thoroughly dried used soapy water and plastic squeegees for the actual installation (cutting before removing the backing and installing, IIRC).
    27126062-1214-4C7C-BC9F-F33E5318CDFB.jpeg
     
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  12. jmarkd7

    jmarkd7 Member

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    If you were careful about not cutting all the way to the paint, you could cut the peeling edge of the tape- just cut into the tape with a scalpel and peel the rest off. Then you’d have a clean edge. But glad it’s served its purpose.
     
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  13. Robert Holt

    Robert Holt Senior Member

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    Good idea, but I think I will let it be rather than risk cutting into the paint accidentally. But we now hace a “severe clear” VFR type of day, so I was able to get better pictures:
    Before:
    89F63901-282B-421F-8687-069DA44A0AEA.jpeg

    After: 9D5116AA-F880-4FFE-AE80-9179383CB198.jpeg

    Close up with arrows pointing to the slightly visible edges. I installed the film in what I thought would be the “high probability “ i pact areas for stones or debris.
    8ED7A53A-802F-48D3-9C00-BC0538174FD8.jpeg
    I do think this type of film is preferable to getting the paint on the nose chipped, particularly if you must drive gravel or dirt road surfaces regularly.
     
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