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How Long Does Paint Protection Film Last

How Long Does Paint Protection Film Last


There are many different ways to protect your paintwork. We’re talking about waxes, coatings, and sealants that can help enhance and preserve the look of your vehicle.

If you are thinking about paint protection film for your car, you might be wondering how long it lasts. Luckily, you have come to this post. Here we’ll help you understand more about paint protection film, including how long it lasts.

Let’s take a look!

Understanding Paint Protection Film

If you are not aware, paint protection film was not initially designed for automobile or civilian use. It was initially intended for military operations at the height of the Vietnam War. More specifically, paint protection film was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (D.O.D.) to protect their helicopters from damage from debris and shrapnel.

The U.S. military contracted some of the greatest minds at the time to develop a product that could protect their equipment from significant damage and be resistant to UV degradation and common aviation fluids.

Later on, 3M took a revolutionary turn to create paint protective films for civilian use.

So, What is Paint Protection Film for Cars?

The modern car protective films come in many different names today: Clear Mask, Clear Bra, Clear Wrap, Car Scratch Protection Film, Rock Chip Protection, Invisible Shield, etc. Of course, many people know them as Paint Protective Film or just PPF.

PPF is made from urethane material (a type of plastic) with a certain degree of elasticity that allows it to be curved, stretched, and bent around different vehicle parts.

Paint Protection Film is applied to painted surfaces of a vehicle to offer paint protection against minor abrasions, bug splatters, and stone chips. This protective film is made from elastomeric polymer to ensure it maintains its shape after application. This way, the PPF will self-heal from light scratches—you can remove the scratches using a heat gun or expose them to bright sunshine.

How Long Does Paint Protection Last?

A professional installed Paint Protection Fill can last up to 10+ years, but this depends on the vehicle use and care. Some people think that since they have a warranty, they should stay for X number of years without worrying about ongoing care.

However, a warranty covers against the manufacturer’s defects, including discoloration, cracking, etc., but does not include normal wear and tear.

Like other car products, many factors will affect the lifespan of your PPF. Here are the most common ones:

Paintwork Surface Prep Before Installation

Your Paint Protective Film won’t last long enough if the surface beneath it is not well-prepped. Though PPF is an invisible protective layer, it will only be as effective as the surface beneath it.

Surface prep is a time-consuming process to remove imperfections and contaminants from the paint before applying the paint protection film. Sometimes full decontamination and multi-machine polish may be necessary to remove all imperfections.

Failure to remove all contamination from the paint means poor PPF installation, which ultimately means it won’t last as expected.

Application is Key

How PPF is applied will determine how long it lasts. Even so, since PPF is hard, installing it can be daunting. Having bubbles beneath the film will make the material not adhere to the surface correctly.

There’s a direct link between how PPF is applied and how long it lasts. Air bubbles will form if any contaminant is trapped under the film, meaning more bubbles under the PPF over time. To avoid this, ensure that a reputable installer applies the paint protection film on your vehicle.

Environmental Agents

While Paint Protection Film is resistant to heat and UV damage, too much exposure to direct sunlight can negatively impact its lifespan.

Besides, while PPF can protect from stone chips and offer high-impact protection, too much exposure to environmental contaminants such as acid rain, bird poo, and other damaging material without proper maintenance will lessen its lifespan.

How to Take Care of Your Protection Paint Film for Long-Lasting Results

Having a professional installer apply Paint Protection Film is a good decision but not everything. To ensure that your protective film maintains its sparkle, you need to learn how to take good care of it.

One of the questions that many people ask is how to wash a vehicle with a Paint Protection Film without damaging the film. This section looks at how to maintain the Paint Protection Film and the best washing techniques to maintain the longevity of your paint protection.

Steps to Take Immediately After Installation

Taking these steps immediately after installation will help keep your film shiny and increase its lifespan:

  • Don’t press any bubbles under the film. A setting solution used during the installation can form bubbles underneath the film. No matter how tempting it is, don’t press the bubbles as they are part of the healing process and will usually go away within two weeks of installation.
  • Wait for at least one week before waxing or washing your car. The film will require time to adhere to the surface after installation. The moisture between the paint surface and the paint protection film will also need time to settle and evaporate. Waxing within the first seven days will interfere with the curing process.

Wait for one week before driving your car after installation to avoid messing up with the curing process.

What to do and What Not to Do When Cleaning a Car’s Paint Protection Film

There are several things to keep in mind when cleaning your paint protection film. Here are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind to ensure you are on the safe side:

Wash Your Car Regularly

Like most people, don’t fail to wash your car because it has a protective film. Cleaning your car regularly is a crucial step in maintaining your vehicle. Clean your car exterior frequently and adequately to get the most out of your paint protection film.

Remove Bird Droppings Immediately

Bird droppings, tree sap, and other debris can damage your protection film. Ensure to remove them immediately with a wash mitt to prevent damage to your car’s paint protection film.

Consider Detailing Clay

Your paint will not feel smooth and sleek if it contains overspray, rail dust, or contaminants. That’s why you need to regularly remove anything foreign from your paint protection film. However, achieving this using the usual measures can be daunting. Detailing clay will help remove any grit from your paint to get a smooth feel.

Use a Premium Sealant

If you want maximum protection, you may want to add a ceramic coating on top of your paint protection film. If that’s not possible, a premium protective sealant would be ideal.

Avoid the Edges if Washing the Car Using a Pressure Washer

To ensure that your paint protection film remains in pristine condition, it is in your best interest to avoid using a pressure washer and other high-pressure water sources. If you must use a pressure washer, keep a safe distance (at least 30 inches) away from your paint protection.

Also, don’t touch the edges of the film to avoid peeling it away from the paint surface. The same principle should apply when using compressed air to avoid lifting the edges and causing damage.


Don’t Touch the Film After Installation

As earlier stated, your film will require at least 48 hours to settle and heal. During this time, don’t touch the film to avoid damaging it and interfering with the curing process. Remember, factors such as low temperatures and high humidity can lengthen the healing process, so you should be patient.

Don’t Wash Your Car Within the First Week of Installation

Washing your car when your film has settled or cured will damage it. Give your PPF enough time to heal completely before washing the car.

If possible, don’t drive your car within the first seven days of application. If you must drive within this period, avoid putting pressure on the film to avoid interfering with the curing process.

Don’t Air Dry Your Car

Air drying your car will leave watermarks on your paint protection film. Avoid this at all costs to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste. Expats recommend using a waffle-weave to dry your car after film application.

Avoid Washing Your Car in Direct Sunlight

What does direct sunlight have to do with washing a car? You may have noticed that when you wash your car in direct sunlight, water evaporates quickly, leaving water-spotting. The same will happen with your paint protection film. Besides, heat can reduce the effectiveness of the car wash chemical.

Don’t Apply Aggressive Chemicals or Force

Applying aggressive chemicals on your car will only damage your paint protection film and shorten its lifespan. Also, don’t apply excessive force on your protective film to avoid damaging it.

Other things to avoid when washing your car after PPF installation include:

  • Avoid using powder-based detergent to clean your film
  • Don’t use a power buffer or polishing equipment
  • Don’t wipe your PPF while dry—hydrate the surface
  • Avoid harsh solvents, including kerosene, xylene, toluene, naphtha, etc.
  • Don’t use fingernails to remove dirt buildup along the film’s edges
  • Avoid waxes/sealants with dye

How to Deal with Light Scratches

The primary reason for having paint protection film on your vehicle is to prevent scratches. The best part about scorpion paint protection film is its self-healing properties. That means it will not only protect your paint but heal itself if it gets scratched.

To remove a scratch from your paint protection film, you just need to expose your vehicle to the sun for about 30 minutes. The PPF heals and fills any scratches due to the sun’s heat. You can pour hot water (120° F) to speed up the process.

Protect Your Car with Paint Protection Film from Scorpion

The paint protection film is a worthy investment for your vehicle. Among other things, it will keep your vehicle in pristine condition and avoid runaway costs from repainting your car and fixing damages. Invest in a new generation paint protection film from Scorpion to save time and money.

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