Paint protection films for your vehicle
Text | Photos:Carfotec
What could be more annoying for a perfectionist car lover than stone chips or scratches in the paintwork? Certainly a rhetorical question: actually a quite normal circumstance that every car driver is confronted with - but one that can also be avoided.
So-called paint protection films, also known as stone chip protection films, provide a remedy. This is a polyurethane film that is only 100 to 300 micrometres thick, but extremely resistant, and protects the vehicle's paintwork from damage. It is applied to the vehicle by a specialist using a special wet bonding technique. Mario Ueberall is such an expert. With his company Carfotec in Viernheim, Hesse, he specialises in protective wrapping and knows what customers value. Perfection is especially important for luxury cars worth the price of a family home.
"When applying the film, extreme precision is important in order to achieve the best possible result. High-quality paint protection films have excellent optical clarity and are very easy to clean, i.e. suitable for car washes. With proper care, they remain clear and transparent for years - a reliable and almost invisible paint protection that does not significantly impair or change the original appearance of the vehicle," explains the professional. In addition, the vehicle remains free of repainting, which is the most important advantage.
Originally, transparent films were designed and developed by the US military to protect helicopter rotors and other sensitive parts from dirt and wear. The films were applied to leading edges and potential impact areas to ensure high wear resistance. Invisible bonding and aesthetics played no role.
Today's high-tech vehicle foiling is a different story. As with so many modern applications, military technology has found its way into the commercial sector and slowly evolved over several decades into the various products that protect our cars today. On some cars, especially sports cars, transparent paint protection films are already applied at the factory to stone chip-prone areas. Wheel arches, side skirts and side panels are the typical areas. However, after some time, these areas appear worn, yellowish or matt. This is mainly due to the material used, explains Mario Ueberall. For cost reasons, the industry often uses low-quality PVC, which only fulfils a function, but not the highest quality standards.
This is not the case with films applied by specialists like Carfotec. "Some film makers use prefabricated templates, we cut the films ourselves. This is more flexible and produces a better result in the end," he continues. In principle, any part of the car body can be covered with film, but it makes most sense to protect the front area - depending on the model and the intended use. Experience shows that this is where most damage occurs.
Since a paint protection film can be individually adapted to any part of the vehicle, the possibilities are manifold. Depending on the model and the amount of work involved, the price of a film can range from 1000 to 10,000 euros. "Money well spent if the quality is right," says the professional. A high-quality paint protection film is characterised by high optical clarity and a long service life with a guarantee from the film manufacturer. Good products can safely remain on the car for ten years. Even after a long time, removing the film without leaving any residue is no problem at all; the car looks as good as new underneath.
Take a close look at who is wrapping
If you want to protect your car, you should definitely choose a reputable film wrapper. There are "black sheep" here, too. Poor adhesion is visually recognisable and cuts in the car's paintwork are not uncommon if you are inexperienced," says Mario Ueberall. His tip: The customer should definitely choose a specialist company that specialises in paint protection films and does not carry out any other film work. "As a trainer in the field of paint protection films, I was able to gain insight into several companies that offer car wrapping, advertising technology and window tinting as their core business. As an additional source of income, the portfolio here is often expanded to include paint protection wrapping, a supposed "specialisation", usually without any prior knowledge and generally with very little experience."
So you should take a close look and convince yourself of the experience and quality of the company in a personal consultation. Once you have found a specialised company with a good reputation, protective film coating can be recommended. Not only for sports cars and race track excursions, but also for quite ordinary everyday vehicles and uses.