How soon do you think your new car will receive its first paint chip? There’s already a dump truck waiting for you to pull out of the dealership parking lot. That may not be the case, but it often seems that way. That’s why many car owners use paint protection film (PPF) (link to our PPF Page) to shield their vehicles. But what is the cost vs benefit? While a specific dollar amount has many variables, we can help you understand the factors influencing the cost. That way, you can apply those factors to each of your vehicles and obtain reasonably accurate estimates.
How Much of the Vehicle Do You Want to Cover?
Every area of the vehicle is vulnerable to damage. But if complete coverage is outside your budget, you’ll have to decide which areas to prioritize. Typically, an owner will cover some portion of the front of the vehicle since it’s more susceptible to damage. Partial front coverage might include the leading edge of the bumper, side mirrors, and leading edge of the hood.
What is The Shape and Size of Your Vehicle?
Are you covering a Porsche Boxter or a 3500 Crew Cab Truck? The size difference between the two vehicles means a difference in the amount of protective film used. And the more film your vehicle requires, the more hours of labor it will take. Other than size, you have to consider the shape of the vehicle. Some cars have relatively straightforward designs, while others have subtle undulating curves or severe juts and angles. The more effort it requires to get the film to follow the form of the vehicle, the greater the cost. The goal is to make the film fit so precisely that it’s indistinguishable from the paint. To achieve that, technicians have to honor the uniqueness of your Lamborghini Huracan and not treat it as if it’s shaped the same as a Ford Bronco.
The panels for some vehicles may be inaccessible for film application unless they’re removed. Partially disassembling the body can significantly increase the installation cost.
What is the Quality of the Film?
Standard paint protection film is usually 7mm to 8mm thick. And typically available in Gloss or a Satin/Matte finish. Some film companies also offer PPF in colors. Changing the color of your vehicle with PPF can be significantly more expensive, and may require some areas such as door jambs, engine compartment, etc to remain the original color and require many areas of the vehicle to be disassembled for complete coverage. Several varieties of film are available at differing price points, with the films offering the most significant benefits of PPF costing more. A good example is a modern film with a self-healing feature.
As the name indicates, it rebounds from minor damage, i.e. light scratches and swirls, and maintain much better aesthetics in the long run. If you’re wrapping a more budget-friendly car, you might choose a lesser film. However, the best shops may only install high-quality films because their businesses’ reputations are on the line. They don’t want their names linked to an ultra-thin and yellowing film.
Which Application Technique Will Be Used?
You also have your choice of application techniques. One PPF installation process relies more on automation, while the other requires a greater amount of human input. Commercially available digital software patterns allow technicians to cut the film to fit your car. For example, there’s a pattern to fit the front bumper of your Chevy truck according to the year and model. This process is straightforward and, therefore, the least costly approach. The other technique, called bulk installation, uses the skilled eye and hand of a master technician to trim the film precisely for your car without relying on a stock pattern. The difference between the two methods is similar to buying a business suit off the rack versus having one tailor-made. The custom approach is necessary when dealing with a limited production car for which no pattern exists. The situation is similar for vintage cars and heavily modified vehicles. Bulk installation offers your best chance at achieving a seamless or near-seamless installation. Most shops will offer a blend of the two methods, where technicians digitally tweak an existing pattern for a better fit.
What is the Condition of the Paint?
The protective film is transparent, so if the underlying paint has flaws, they will still be noticeable after the film is applied. That’s why your paint job should be flawless. So, it’s typical that the car will need prep work before it’s ready for the film. Even a new car is likely to need work. Consider how long it sat outside the dealership, exposed to the elements. The weather could have included a baking sun or snow drifts. There may have been hailstorms. And you can always suspect that it received a few thundershowers. Any precipitation will likely mar the paint because of the mineral deposits left behind. The vehicle’s paint is also subject to abuse from car washing. The smallest contaminant stuck to a rag or sponge can leave scratches. The problem is amplified when a motorized buffer is used. Your paint could be home to countless scratches etched into the surface.
Do You Want Additional Services?
Car owners often select add-on services when getting their cars wrapped. For example, tinting the windows is a common choice. The other is ceramic coating (link to our ceramic coating page). Protective film and ceramic coating are often presented as an either-or choice. But they also work well together. Technicians can apply the ceramic coating over the film, providing the best of both products. The coating and film work together to give you a bonus level of protection from dirt and debris. In addition, the coating has a surface that rejects water, making rain, snow, and dirt easily removable.
Where Are You Choosing a PPF Installer?
The price of protecting your car with film will vary depending on what the local market will support. Typically, you’ll pay more in expensive metropolitan areas and less in small market cities. This doesn’t mean big-city shops are trying to exploit you. It’s simply the fact that everything often costs more in a large city for shops to stay in business. They have to pay more for rent, mortgage, electricity, and water. And they have to offer their employees a far higher hourly wage or salary.
Your Car and Paint Protection Film Cost
Before you receive another chip in your paint, do your research, read reviews and call and talk to someone knowledgeable who can answer your specific questions, and provide good advice based on your need. Detail Pro Shop has trained technicians and knowledgeable representatives to help you make an informed decision without any sales pressure. Contact us today.