Film at 11: Best Car Paint Protection Films
From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.
Far beyond the reaches of old-school car bras and hood protectors are these clear paint protection films. Targeted at drivers who give a damn about their car’s paintwork, these options are dandy ways to keep a vehicle’s finish in good shape while not hiding anything under a leather protector.
Go ahead and expunge the mental image of a tired Camaro wearing a tattered LeBra, under which hides so much rust and miscolored paint. These modern-day solutions are a world apart from what was available in the bad old days. Also, my targeted ads are quite bizarre now after writing up all these commerce posts for TTAC.
(Editor’s note: As noted above, this post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘
90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)
1. Editor’s Choice: VViViD 3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Vinyl Film
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a well-known brand because, as customers of Tim Horton’s failed Beyond Meat experiment found out, sometimes you do indeed get what you pay for. This roll of paint protection film is a healthy six inches wide, making it ideal for the leading edge of a hood or the perimeter or car doors.
A good five feet of the stuff means a single roll should take care of the square footage on the edge of your car’s hood that’s constantly being assaulted by bugs and road debris. Beyond that, though, you’ll want to order more than one. The 3M company has been making these types of items since essentially the dawn of time, alleging this particular product is “virtually invisible” once applied. Having seen this precise protection film in action, your author can assert it is definitely tough to see, with only a fine line of delineation marking the edge where the film ends and unprotected paint begins.
Pros: Trusted brand name, is truly a near-invisible product
Cons: Short(ish) roll length
2. Car Guys – Bumper Edge Paint Protection Film Kit
Is your family perpetually dropping their skate blades on the top of your crossover’s rear bumper while heading into hockey practice? Have you dragged that knackered suitcase up and over the same area time and again while hurriedly headed to the airport? Then this bumper edge paint protector might be a practical solution.
With strong adhesion and high wear resistance, this protection film should guard against the daily rigors of carting around Junior’s sports equipment and your buddy’s flux-core welder that you promised to return last month. Measuring 47 inches by 4 inches, there should be enough surface area here to protect the vast majority of popular models. The seller claims it to be easily removable without causing harm to the car’s paint.
Pros: Stands out less than a metal plate, bumper scratches begone!
Cons: Not cheap for such a small item
3. Road Warrior Paint Film – Temporary Roll-On Automotive Exterior Protector
This protectant rolls on as a white liquid but apparently dries to a clear film 10 mils thick and allegedly peels off easier than it goes on. Each bottle of paint protector film will cover approximately 15 square feet of finished painted surface. It is designed for short-term use, say when you’re taking the Porsche to a track day or driving the Jeep through the bathtub obstacle at Moab.
Note that this product doesn’t hold up well in the rain, with the seller saying it softens like the economy in damp conditions. They go on to tout that it won’t remove the car’s paint as you’re peeling it off. There is certainly a texture to the film, so be sure you’re okay with an orange-peel look while this stuff is on your car. Setting it in the sun is the best quick-dry solution after application.
Pros: Great for a quick dose of protection against track or trail debris
Cons: Useless as a long-term solution
4. Armordillo Auto Transport Car Paint Protection Film
You know those white plastic protectors that are applied to the hoods of some cars as they leave the factory? You’ve no doubt seen them on vehicles arriving on a transporter at your local dealerships. It turns out they are available for purchase by the general public, providing a durable temporary layer of paint protection.
No, you won’t be leaving this item on your car for any long amount of time but it could be just the ticket for saving the hood’s finish during short-term storage or while transporting it during a move. The 3 mil, 3 ply material is said to resist nefarious UV rays for about six months. It’ll also guard against road grime and loose gravel while your car is en route on the back of a truck.
Pros: Six months of UV protection, makes your car look like its coming from the factory
Cons: Quite ‘spensive
5. AKDSteel Universal Clear Transparent Car Protective Film
This stuff is similar in concept to the 3M selection listed at the top of this post but is from an off-brand with few real world reviews. Cheaper than the name-brand, it also is a bigger roll of film, measuring a solid 6 inches by nearly ten feet, twice the length of the 3M product.
It is often a gamble buying cheap online alternatives to the recognized names but it has worked out to your author’s advantage on occasion. My genuine Romex watch, for example, only loses an hour every hour and our Somy television brings in at least three channels when it isn’t raining.
Pros: Touts itself as “anti-stoning” (!)
Cons: No-name gamble
6. Beesclover Anti-Scratch Transparence
Falling into the “this is way more than I’ll ever need” category is this lot of vinyl film wrap. With its smallest option measuring nearly five feet wide and over 6.5 feet long, one should be able to wrap every leading edge of metal on their car. The longest roll of this stuff? Sixty-five feet. That’s twice the length of your author’s house.
Nevertheless, anyone running a car detail shop or fleet of vehicles might find this to be just the ticket, as buying in bulk is rarely a bad idea. The seller touts this product as ideal for protecting any flat(ish) surface on a car, from hoods to bumpers. It has only been listed on Amazon for a week, explaining the dearth of reviews.
Pros: Huge quantity of film
Cons: Shipping is costly
7. Track Armour – Temporary Track Day Paint Protection
Serving a similar purpose to the protection liquid listed above but in tape form is this roll of protectant from a company called Track Armour. All good companies leave little to the imagination when naming themselves and, as you’d guess from this brand, it is intended for people who track their cars but don’t want them looking like a teenager’s face at the end of the day.
Providing temporary paint protection for track days or road trips, this clear adhesive film allegedly applies in just a few minutes assuming the car’s surface is clean and dry. Said to be 4 mil thick, this stuff should shrug off track debris like a politician shrugs off responsibility once they’re in office. The sellers say that it has ‘easy workability’ around tough edges, meaning that it should curve around the contours of your Contour with relative ease.
Pros: Great temporary protection while at AutoX or track days
Cons: Wallet-draining price
8. XPEL Clear Universal Door Sill Guard
The next time you clamber aboard your car, take a look at its door sills. Chances are they’re littered with scratches a scuffs, the culmination of people entering and exiting the thing. After all, each trip assumes that at least the driver’s door will be opened twice – once at departure and once upon arrival.
This narrow band of clear film is designed to stick on over the door sill, protecting this high traffic area from the scars of daily life. Its 8mil polyurethane construction should be robust enough for even harsh environments, unless your’re the type to drive in soccer cleats or hockey skates.
Pros: Cheap insurance against scratches, easy-stick installation
Cons: Only helpful for this specific task
[Images provided by the manufacturer. Lead image: Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock]