Basically speaking, a paint protection film is a plastic wrap for potentially damageable regions of your car – lower fascia, side mirrors, rocker panels, and basically any surface facing directly toward the front/bottom of the car. The main use for a clear bra is, of course, to protect these areas from road debris that might kick up on the road and would otherwise leave a nice scratch or chip in your paintwork. 3M is really the grandfather company to the entire automotive car paint protection film industry.
Now you don’t often see these treatments on “average” cars because it generally costs somewhere between $900-$2500 depending on how many panels you want done and your car… remember, these things are typically custom cut (or made from a schematic of the vehicle) and hand applied.
That said, I don’t mean to say you can’t get one on just about any car you want. Just do a quick search and you should be able to find what you’re looking for in no time. But what’s the clear bra all about? What are the positives and negatives? Lets take a look…
In general, the idea behind a clear bra is great. It protects your paint for a long time and it’s hardly noticeable (for now). The major benefit here is that whether you’re driving a Carrera 4s or a Camry Limited, you can be confident in knowing you aren’t going to have to deal with an array of rock chips on your bumper when you get home from work. And if you live in the city, it gets even better. Annoying dings and scrapes from the jerks in your neighborhood trying to park all up in your grille? This clear polymer shield will make sure nobody scuffs your paint.
Longterm paint protection for troublesome areas
Prevents need to repaint bumper/fascia in a few years
Adds value in longrun, if properly maintained
The only real way to prevent matte paint from scratching (XPEL Stealth)
At first, all seems to be well with the clear bra treatment. Overtime, however, the story begins to take on a new face – and I do mean literally. Almost every single clear bra wrap I’ve seen has turned a yellowish opaque color after a few years (depending on quality, and therefor price). Now maybe this doesn’t concern you, but if you’re going to put something on your paint to protect it, it better not ruin its looks. Next, while this plastic shield protects your paint, the bra itself is taking a beating. UV rays, scrapes, chips, and more are all extremely common on clear bras.
Relatively expensive for only a little bit of coverage
Not as durable as you’d think – if things (sap, etc.) are left on the clear bra, they can eat through the plastic and harm the paint
Aesthetically unpleasing… almost gag-worthy (if left unprotected)
What To Do?
In the past, we said that regular waxing would be enough to keep your car’s paint in good shape. That’s simply not true. Wax doesn’t protect much because it doesn’t last more than a month. It’s not scratch resistant and it does nothing other than provide beautiful gloss.
Additionally, wax is out of the question when it comes to matte paint. We’re matte paint care experts so we have to mention the flat finish.
Fortunately, the issues of yellowing, fading, and discoloration can be avoided entirely if the paint protection film is properly protected. Isn’t protecting a protective film redundant? No! The film protects against scratches and a coating like Formula 1201 (or Matte Paint Coating to protect XPEL Stealth) keeps the film in great shape.
So, know more the absolute best way to keep scratches from damaging your paint is to get a clear bra and then apply a nano coating on top of that to keep the film from discoloring.