Top 8 Best Paint Protection Films
By | Last updated: June 14, 2022
best car paint protection films

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. They provide a layer of protection that’s nearly invisible save for a gotta-know-where-to-look-for-it leading edge. Another bonus? This stuff may very well net you a few extra bucks at trade-in time.

Here are a few that stood out.

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
Bottom Line/Pop for the jumbo 100' roll

2. jdmBestBoy Clear Paint Protection Film

You’d think combining parts of Best Buy and Big Boy would create an electronics shop in which one can get a tasty hamburger. Apparently not. This brand offers protection film in various and sundry sizes, ranging from a minimum of 1ft x 5ft to 5ft x 50ft.

The company provides a felt squeegee and knife for any order larger than 1ft x 5ft – which is the minimum order size, strangely. Why not simply say it’s included with all orders? Anyway, this stuff is said to be made with an automotive-cast vinyl and is soft enough to conform to all edges/contours.

Pros/Plenty of available sizes, the price is right
Cons/Reviews are middling
Bottom Line/Follow the instructions carefully

3. Road Warrior Paint Film - 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
Bottom Line/A unique take on the product

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
Bottom Line/Trick your neighbors into thinking you work for a dealership

5. Sedeta Clear Protective Film

This is a PVC clear transparent film, one apparently intended for both exterior and interior usage. The latter is an interesting idea, one which would help Uber drivers keep their car’s door cars free of damage from careless feet (if the rideshare industry ever bounces back to pre-Covid levels, that is).

Users claim there is no residue left behind after the stuff is peeled off, even when removed after months of application. The level of stickiness apparently depends on the surface and its texture. Reviews aren’t exactly top-notch, so shopping smartly would be prudent.

Pros/Use it inside or out
Cons/Feedback is hardly reassuring
Bottom Line/Manage your expectations at this price

6. Xotic Tech Clear Paint Protection

A single roll of 12″ x 48″ clear vinyl film, this product will help prevent scratches on the areas of your car to which this stuff is applied. Keeping the paint of your vehicle looking new goes a long way to helping its trade-in value down the road. It is made of a high-quality polyurethane which is 8mil in thickness, stretchable, and anti-crack.

To apply, clean and dry the surface and apply the paint guard film sheet over the area. Then, smooth out the surface with a squeegee and cut off whatever excess remains. Note that applicator tools are not included. See? We made it through the product description without making a ‘Joe Xotic’ joke.

Pros/Five-star rating
Cons/There are only three ratings
Bottom Line/Get two rolls (four feet isn't much)

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
Bottom Line/Can get costly but results seem worth it

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
Bottom Line/Not just for door sills

FAQd

What is the best car protection film?

According to several reviews, the following car paint protection films (PPFs) are considered to be the best:

Although it’s quite thin and economic to your pocket, the installation process isn’t that easy.

  • XPEL Clear Paint Protection Film (Buy here!)

This one becomes almost invisible upon applying.

Although you may have your reasons to consider one brand better than others, the products that are listed above could give you a fair idea of what to look for when choosing a paint protection film (PPF).

Is paint protection film on cars worth it?

If you love your car, want to take good care of it, and want to keep it for another half a decade or so, then yes, a paint protection film is good for your car. However, as with everything, even this product has its pros and cons which are listed below:

Pros

  • Protects against minor scratches and rock chips
  • Has self-healing ability to keep your car’s paint as fresh as new
  • Protects your car’s paint for as long as 10 years (after which it may need to be replaced)
  • Prevents paint swirls

Cons

  • Needs utmost care during installation to avoid adverse effects
  • Unless it’s something from a good company like SunTek, an additional ceramic coating could be required for maximum protection
  • Needs a professional expert to install
  • Needs full removal and replacement once gets damaged
  • Not a cheap product to buy

The above-listed pros and cons will help you assess whether or not you want to go for a PPF.

Is 3M better than XPEL?

Not really. Instead, it’s the other way around due to the following reasons:

  • Durability

XPEL is more durable as it maintains its clarity and the characteristic of being almost invisible even after years of application.

3M, on the other hand, tends to fade to a yellowish color over time which, in some cases is within a year or two after applying.

  • Protection

XPEL is comparatively a newer company but still, it was the first to develop self-healing technology that does wonders. The top coating of XPEL protection film can automatically heal itself from minor swirls and the inconsistencies caused by the Sun.

3M doesn’t have a top-coating at all, especially in the old films.

  • Quality and Warranty

XPEL, when applied, forms a thick layer and the company offers up to 10 years of warranty on the protection film.

3M offers a maximum of 7 years of warranty which is pretty less as compared to XPEL.

Considering the above differences, you can easily understand that XPEL is way better than 3M as the former primarily focuses on the protection films whereas the latter has a wide range of products and its concentration is arguably distributed.

What is better XPEL or SunTek?

Although both XPEL and SunTek are good companies and produce quality protection films, the latter has more satisfied customers than the former. The points because most consumers vote for SunTek are:

  • Hydrophobic

SunTek tends to be more hydrophobic which makes it easy to remove mud or grime from the body while cleaning.

  • Finishing

Many users find the transparency level of SunTek way superior compared to XPEL.

  • Maturity

Being an old company with continuous evolutions, SunTek films are said to be better and more advanced.

  • Reliability

Some consumers suggest that SunTek surely provides quality films whereas those from XPEL may come up with some issues over time. Even though the films from the latter brand are covered under warranty, there’s no compensation for the time that you’ll lose in the process of replacement. Right?

  • Layering and Coating

SunTek protection films already have a ceramic coating on the top. On the other hand, if you go with some other brand, you may have to get this done separately.

Another important factor that counts a lot is the professionalism and experience of the installer. If the installation technician is inexperienced, regardless of the quality of the protection film, you will end up having a car that wouldn’t look as good as it should.


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.

(Editor’s note: 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.)

[Main photo credit: Nomad_Soul / ShutterStock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

6 Comments on “Best Car Paint Protection Films: Film at 11...”


  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I wish I could have had the # 4 option available when my car was new, as it took me 2 months until I could get it to a professional for PPF. VentureShield Ultra FTW!

    Interesting how there’s no non-cached Lexus ad breaking through my ad blocker and sucking up my data plan on this particular page!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Dear Automotive OEM,

    While waiting on chips to arrive, schedule a Zoom meeting including the individuals from your wind tunnel facility and the individuals who program your paint robots. Obtain a map of the ‘high pressure’ (and resulting high wear) areas of the body [if the front fascia and the first 18 inches of the hood are not included, you are doing it wrong]. Now have the robots make one extra clear-coat pass over these areas. Request data on the extra clear-coat usage and the effect on cycle time (if any).

    Now (while still waiting on chips to arrive), schedule a second Zoom meeting including your Remarketing team and representatives from Finance. Compare the additional clear-coat cost with the reconditioning savings on returned leases. Now do the right thing – for yourself and for everyone involved in the lifecycle of that vehicle you just built.

    [You won’t do any of this, because you would rather be reactive than proactive, you don’t respect your customers (because of your deep self-loathing, but we can save that for another time), and you really aren’t very good at your job.]

    Signed,
    Cassandra

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      A thousand times yes. Also if your using aluminum as a hood material try to create a more flexible paint that does not chip off from every tiny pebble. Thanks.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Two things to think about before having protective film installed:

    (1) Don’t get it from a car dealer. They will hire a contractor to do the installation and mark up the price from what the contractor charges them. You will get the same result for less money if you go directly to the contractor.

    (2) Before committing to a contractor, examine one of his installations to see how he handles the edges. A good contractor will wrap the film around the edge of the body panel so that the edge of the film is concealed. A lazy one will use an X-ACTO knife to cut the film at the edge of the panel. That leaves the edge of the panel unprotected and you are likely to have cuts in the paint.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Interesting the 3M sits on top of this pile, since their first-ever product was sandpaper!

    Generally, really high-quality stuff from them all around.

  • avatar
    gregtwelve

    As a principal in a sign shop for many years and having done numerous full and partial wraps mostly on commercial vehicles I would not recommend any product for long term use. Any wrap whether it is a color, printed with laminate, or clear by any manufacturer (I use 3M exclusively) will not last longer than maybe 4 years on any horizontal surface. Keeping it on longer will result in major problems with the removal.

    The only value of any of these films would be in prevention of chips on the front of a car but that protection would be 3-5 years at most and after that would have to be removed and replaced.

    Most well painted vehicles should not even need this protection unless it is operated on high speed highways with commercial traffic. Unfortunately for at least a decade many vehicles are not painted well from the manufacturer probably due the relatively recent adoption of water based paint by regulation. Aluminum hoods and other body panels present another problem with long term paint adhesion.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.