car ppf being applied in sacramento ca

5 Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Paint Protection Film

Drivers who have opted for a paint protection film atop their car’s paint job may have several questions when they leave the dealership or specialist.

These might include:

How do you wash a car with Paint Protection Film?

What are the recommended washing procedures?

How can you protect or extend the life of your Paint Protection Film?

How can you extend the life and improve the appearance of your long-term paint protection?

Where can I find paint protection film near me?

This blog post will address all these questions and more. Keep reading for all the information about how to extend the life of a paint protection film.

The Five Steps to Extend the Life of Your Paint Protection Film Are:

  1. Leave it Alone for a Week After Installation
  2. Wash It Gently
  3. Apply a Premium Sealant
  4. Avoid Abrasive Products & Tools
  5. Remove Debris, Dirt, and Other Contaminants ASAP

Read more for details of each step to protect your car’s PPF.

What is Paint Protection Film?

5 Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Paint Protection Film 3
3 1
5 Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Paint Protection Film 4

Automotive Paint Protection Film or PPF is an ultra-thin polyurethane, or polymer, which when installed by a professional, creates a transparent protective surface layer. This replaceable covering protects the clear coat of a car, as well as the paint below it, from weather, atmosphere, hard water deposits, and surface scratches.

There are two types of 3M paint protection films for the civilian car market: a clear Pro Series and a colored Matte version. Both have a 10-year warranty and, when properly installed by an expert, offer “unrivaled scratch and stain protection,” according to 3M.

3M’s PPF products have grown in popularity in recent years due to their flexibility to be individually built to fit a specific vehicle, unique “self-healing qualities,” and ability to match most factory matte paints.

There are several other manufacturers that produce car PPF, including XPEL, Suntek, and Llumar. The product nicknames consumers might be familiar with include:

  • Car Protection Film
  • Clear Bra, Mask, or Wrap
  • Invisible Shield

Any of these nicknames can refer to the various brands and types of car PPF.

A Short History of Paint Protection Film

This substance was originally known as “heli tape,” and is still called by that name in some markets. PPF was originally developed by the Department of Defense and 3M to protect helicopters from shrapnel and debris during the Vietnam War.

3M’s experts created a product that could endure substantial quantities of elemental abuse as well as mild surface damage from things like artillery shrapnel by changing the chemical structure of a highly tough urethane film. This film was an instant success due to its low cost, ease of application and replacement, and resistance to UV deterioration and common aviation fluids.

It became known as helicopter tape, or “heli tape” for short, due to its ability to mold to nearly any surface and then make a strong connection with whatever it was left to cure atop.

How is PPF Different from Vinyl Car Wrap?

Vinyl wraps are an opaque, colored product, and paint protection films are typically a very lightweight, thin, clear covering that self-heals when it is scratched.

How Do Professionals Install a Paint Protection Film?

There are two main ways a company can install a paint protection film on a vehicle. They can buy the film in rolls, lay it over the vehicle and trim the excess. Another way is to use a plotter, which is a computer-controlled cutting machine that measures the vehicle and cuts precise pieces from the roll.

The steps of installation include:

  • Washing the car to remove any debris, rust, scratches, or other imperfections
  • Cutting PPF sheets to fit all panels being covered
  • Spraying the car with an activator or fitting solution
  • Applying the film and squeegeeing to remove any bubbles or folds
  • Using a heat gun to activate the adhesive

The installation steps may vary from business to business. Some businesses may offer extra steps, like scratch repair, prior to the installation.

How Long Does Paint Protection Film Last?

The lifetime of a paint protection coating is possibly its finest feature. A professionally fitted paint protection film should last between 5 and 10 years, according to 3M. This is why many of these solutions come with warranties when installed by a qualified business that specializes in PPF installations.

However, like with vehicle wax, ceramic coatings, or any other type of paint protection, there are a few elements that may affect product lifespan. They are:

  • Poor preparation of the paint surface
  • Improper Application
  • Environmental Exposure

Paint Protection Film Pros & Cons

Every preventive measure has its pros and cons. Here are a few regarding car PPF:


  • The best protection against scratches and chips
  • Prevents paint-swirl formation
  • Self-heals minor scratches
  • Can last a decade when maintained well


  • If not cared for, can diminish the shine of a vehicle’s paint.
  • Not necessarily extremely hydrophobic. (For unparalleled paint protection, several experienced PPF installers recommend a ceramic coating application service on top of a fresh layer of PPF.)
  • Can be costly
  • Needs proper maintenance to prevent paint damage

Here are some tips for proper care and maintenance of a paint protection film.

What To Do Immediately After Installation

This is the most important aspect of Paint Protection Film maintenance since it is still curing, and any mistake may damage or destroy the film.

As a result, do not wash or wax your automobile for the first seven days following PPF installation. This is due to the fact that the moisture between your car’s paint surface and the film is still draining, and the film has not yet fully attached to the surface. Any fiddling with the PPF might disrupt the curing process.

Do not push any bubbles that have developed beneath the coating. When the PPF is installed, a configuration solution is utilized. This may result in the formation of aqueous bubbles beneath the coating. The bubbles should not be squeezed because they are part of the curing process and will dissolve two to three weeks after installation. The liquid trapped in the bubbles evaporates via the pores of the coating.

If at all possible, avoid driving your automobile for the first week following installation. This decreases the possibility of interfering with the healing process.

After the first week of installation, you may begin performing regular additional film maintenance measures.

Cleaning The Car

Though car PPF can self-repair small scratches, car owners should still be careful to prevent any damage to the paint protection film. This includes using careful washing techniques.

Do not drive through an automated car wash with a PPF. It can peel the edges of the film.

When washing your automobile, take care not to damage the Paint Protection Film. A gap of 1 foot or more should be maintained between the film and the washer’s nozzle while using any pressure washer, either water or air pressure washer. This is due to excessive pressure lifting the layer off the car’s surface.

The pressure washer should also be kept away from the edges since it has the potential to quickly dislodge the film.

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the borders of your film.

To remove dust from your automobile, first, moisten the surface. This lowers friction, preventing swirls and PPF damage.

Apply a High-Quality Sealant or Ceramic Coating

A Paint Protection Film is a porous material. This implies that if dust and other impurities are left on it for an extended period of time, they can pollute it and dull it over time. To avoid this, a sealant should be applied on the surface of the PPF. Sealing the pores with a sealer protects the film from pollutants. Additionally, the sealant protects your vehicle.

Instead of utilizing wax or sealants, a ceramic coating can be applied to the Paint Protection Film. This combination provides the benefits of both PPF and ceramic coating, providing additional protection for your vehicle.

Choose only natural-based sealants when selecting sealants for your Paint Protection Film. Any sealants or wax containing corrosive ingredients can destroy your film, including its self-healing characteristics.

To keep the film’s overall brilliance, make sure to apply the sealant evenly.

Maintenance of the automobile and the PPF is made easier after the application of wax/sealant/ceramic coating. You only need water and liquid soap to clean your automobile, and you’re done.

Avoid Abrasive Chemicals & Tools

Your Paint Protection Film is vulnerable to harm, so avoid doing anything that will diminish its effectiveness. All detailing products containing corrosive or abrasive compounds are included. Tar and insect removers, clay cleansers, and degreasers, among other dangerous materials, should be avoided.

Keep in mind that the film’s integrity must be maintained in order for it to be effective, and aggressive products jeopardize this and lessen the film’s longevity.

Remove Debris, Dirt, and Other Contaminants ASAP

Bird poo, tree sap, and other acidic natural contaminants should be wiped away from the PPF as soon as reasonably possible. Acidic compounds can quickly degrade the film and make it look dull. When cleaning the substances, blot instead of wiping to avoid swirls and damage.

More Tips & Tricks

  • On the PPF, do not use powerful buffers or polishing tools.
  • Wipe or clean it away from direct sunlight or when the film is hot.
  • Do not use colored sealants since they will dull the surface.
  • After cleaning your automobile, dry it with a clean microfiber towel. This keeps water spots at bay.
  • Powder detergents should not be used on PPF.
  • Do not pick at the corners of the film.
  • The use of petroleum or resin-based compounds may cause surface damage to the Paint Protection Film.
  • On the PPF, always use PH-neutral products.
  • Wax should be applied every 3-6 months.
  • Avoid using high-pressure washers.
  • Hand detailing is preferable to avoid film degradation.


Cars depreciate rapidly. Within five years of driving off the lot, a car loses 60% of its initial value. Maintenance of the car, including its paint job, can help hang on to some of that worth. Motorists who want to maintain their vehicle’s value for eventual resale should consider a car paint protection film.

Paint protection films, or PPF, can maintain the look of a car, extend its life, add resale value, be a faster and easier installation than other options, and can save the driver money over time.

They are an excellent technique to protect a vehicle’s surfaces from the world’s most abrasive particles. However, it is not meant to improve the sheen of a paint job, nor is it very effective at keeping car surfaces clean.

So, is a high-end PPF worth the initial investment and the expenses connected with hiring a professional installer? That is all up to the driver to decide.

Where Can I Find a Car PPF Installer Near Me?

Elite Auto Works installs paint protection film in the Sacramento, CA region and has for many years. We use the most cutting-edge technology and expert installation practices to provide the longest-lasting protection possible. We have extensive knowledge of retail, historical, classic, luxury, and exotic automobiles. We grasp the overall picture of the style you want and work hard to deliver on that promise.

Elite Auto Works has the drive to ensure your automobile looks beautiful and retains its value when it comes to paint protection film in Sacramento, CA. We know how to apply your car PPF while protecting the original paint job, so you get the most market value when it comes time to trade in your vehicle.

If you’d like to discover more about the paint protection film options for your vehicle, please contact us immediately for a free consultation with one of our specialists.


The best way to protect your investment!