Routine waxing gives your vehicle good protection against airborne dirt and acid rain, but the only way to avoid rock chip damage is paint protection film. Also known as clear bra material, paint protection film shields painted surfaces, headlamps, and tail lamps from scratches and chips due to direct impact.
It eliminates paint trading in parking lots. The film can also protect trunk lips and rear bumpers that tend to get damaged when unloading luggage, golf bags, bicycles and other large items. Ditto for door sills that take a daily beating from high heels. In addition to preventing pitting around the front of a car, the paint protection film prevents headlamp lenses from oxidizing in areas of the country where there is strong year-round sunlight.
Times have changed for paint protection film. It no longer “yellows” over time. Certain brands even make claims that the film can protect paint from a 120 mph hit from a rock particle.
The choice between doing the installation yourself or hiring an installer depends on the area being covered. Small areas such as headlamps, tail lamps, door sills, and door edges are easy DIY weekend jobs. But areas with multiple complex curves such as bumpers and hoods require professional installers.
If you are installing the paint protection film on a painted surface, prepare it by removing all wax. This may require a clay bar. Use solvent to remove the residue. When positioning a piece over a larger area such as a headlamp, a solution of isopropyl alcohol in water will get the film to bite better. It creates a slight barrier that enables you to more easily move the piece of film around. Once in place, use a squeegee to secure the film.
The film requires 24 hours to cure following installation. After that, it should protect the paint surfaces for the life of the vehicle.