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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Thoughts on enjoying the ‘PPF Lifestyle’ after its first 5000 miles.



First and foremost, would I do it again? As opposed to ceramic/quartz/glass coatings, absolutely…if the vehicle in question warranted the added expense and potential inconvenience if something untoward had befallen the car during normal use. As for what determines if the vehicle warranted the cost of full PPF application, that’s definitely a personal decision based upon your particular situation. Worth noting that we went into this w an expectation that the C7 would see far more miles than it has seen. However, wife is primary driver and she switched jobs and only works 3 miles from home so...Doh! I have a 70 mile a day commute, 95% freeway (a perfect test environment for PPF) so I'm trying to take it 2 or 3 times a week these days to get some use outta the car.

In my mind, this was gonna be a ‘special’ car (wife is a true ‘Corvette Girl’), one that we were gonna hold onto for the long term so I wanted the best I could get for it, one last hurrah. This car was custom-ordered to our specifications from the factory and delivered right from dealer to Esoteric so as long as it was gonna be pristine from the start, I wanted the protection to match. And it’s black, so it needs all the help it can get.

While I coulda gone with a partial PPF install on high impact areas, in for a penny, in for a pound and lets just wrap the whole thing. Wrapping the whole thing also appealed to my sense of consistency and ‘order’, keeping the entire outward finish the same (PPF + Coating) on the entire surface, eliminating the chance for any inconsistencies in appearance between panels. Would I have noticed any differences if only doing a partial wrap…I dunno; I doubt it but since I tend to stare at our cars for long periods of time quite often, I might have noticed a difference in texture or appearance, either real or only imagined in my mind. Even if only imagined, why take the chance? In the end, no regrets after (only) 3500 miles and 7 months; in this particular situation I am quite happy with the path taken, in part because it exposed me to a new form of protection that I had no personal experience with…curiosity and all, must be satisfied.

Some things to consider if interested in pursuing PPF

I’ve come to the conclusion that THE most important part of a satisfactory PPF installation is not only the product installed but also the people who install it. Since having PPF installed I’ve obviously been more focused on that when attending auto-related gatherings where there may be vehicles that have PPF installed. I’ve seen great installs, good installs, OK installs and, uh…not so great installs. Not knowing what was agreed upon and the price paid, can’t tell if any of those were ‘worth the money’ or led to sadness but after 6 months of looking at other installations, I’d have to say ours is a ‘Great installation’.

I can’t even imagine the attention to detail required for a clean installation, especially on a black car. How in the world they manage to lay down those large sheets without trapping any debris that would be easily noticeable afterwards is beyond my comprehension; the patience required just has to be incredible. I’ve seen some other installs on dark-colored paint that did have small dust, debris trapped under them and while maybe not noticeable to 90% of the folks out there, it would be noticeable to me. Getting PPF is definitely not a ‘go with the low bidder’ affair.

Another noteworthy point regarding installation is just what ‘type’ of installation you’re paying for. From what I understand, there’s kinda a few different types of PPF installs:

1. A strict ‘pattern installation’ from a kit, no customization or allowances for variability in panel size/fit. The ones I’ve seen that I believe are like this have less wrapped corners around, for instance, the rear quarter panel transition to the back end. I’ve seen a few where instead of wrapping around from quarter panel to rear end, 2 individual pieces are used, one for the rear quarter and one for the rear surfaces. This leaves a gap in coverage at the corner of the panel and 2 seams.

2. A ‘customized’ pattern installation where the pattern is perhaps downloaded from a central database, loaded into a plotter/cutter which cuts a general and likely a bit over-sized pattern/piece from bulk film which is then installed, tucked and wrapped in a little more complete manner than #1 above. Result: less seams, more coverage.

3. A totally custom installation where all pieces are cut from bulk and applied as completely (or as incompletely as installer sees fit/has the skill to do). Another add-on to a service like this is partial or total disassembly of vehicle exterior to further reduce the visible seams.

I can’t say for sure that those are indeed the ‘general’ installation types but it seems to be consistent with what I have read here and there and seen on PPF’d vehicles. In any event, the end result is highly dependent on the installers skills and if you’re not well-versed on PPF (I really didn’t know much about the specifics) the trust you have in your installer is of utmost importance. There were things regarding the entire experience that I left to the installers judgement because, well, they know a lot more about this stuff than I do. Fortunately, they were a great help and having complete faith in their recommendations and skills made the entire process very entertaining as opposed to nerve-wracking.

An example of the above was the topic of paint correction before PPF application. Obviously, with a black car that came outta a General Motors plant, I was expecting paint correction would be necessary even with it being a new car that the dealer did not touch upon delivery….heck, even Ferrari doesn’t pump out factory fresh, flawless paint. However, a nice, unexpected benefit of PPF is that it will cover up some minor flaws in the paintwork often making a complete correction unnecessary. While as an overly-OCD-ish owner of a black car I was somewhat taken aback by this approach, it was another example of where having complete faith in your installer pays great dividends. While they would have done a complete correction prior to application of PPF if I had requested it, they suggested waiting to see the actual vehicle in person and then determining if this would be a necessary step; as it turns out, it wasn’t necessary and the results bear this out…there were no flaws that I could find anywhere on the painted surfaces of the vehicle. A penny saved is a penny earned and that’s a whole lotta pennies I saved in avoiding a complete correction and the associated expense when it makes no difference in the visual outcome.

Are there factory flaws in the paint under the PPF…quite possibly but to me, it’s kinda like “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?”, that is, if I can’t see it, do I really care? For me…no. The installer could have easily sold me a full paint correction and I woulda gone for it with no hesitation but since it wasn’t truly necessary they saved me that expense. And since I don’t have a Bill Gates-ian bank account, that’s a definite plus.

Appearance

Since the PPF is 8mil/203 microns thick and will cover up some minor flaws, will adding such a layer alter the appearance any? The difference is (or has been) unnoticeable by everyone except a dork like me. I can tell that there is a very slight difference in a panel covered with PPF as opposed to a painted/coated panel but it’s not enough that I would be able to tell without staring at the surface for a closely. It has slightly less ‘sharpness’ in reflection, a slight bit of texture and if looking down the side while laying on the floor with a ScanGrip light at just the right angle, this will become apparent if your looking for it. And yeah, that’s the kinda dumb stuff I sometimes do to satisfy my curiosity….entertainment is where ya find it and all. Still, when washed and topped with a suitable product, the black is black and the reflectivity is great.

Maintenance

I’m a foam cannon guy as besides being fun I figure “It can only help, it can’t hurt” so why not? With that in mind when it comes time to wash I’ll give a quick rinse with a pressure washer very carefully (more on this below) foam it, rinse it again, bucket wash it, air dry it with the ‘ol BigBoi BlowR PRO (absolute best detailing 'thing' I've spent money on, especially with all the cracks and crevices on a C7) and then (far too often than is necessary) apply some Polish Angel Cosmic Spritz, High Gloss Spritz or Kamikaze Overcoat to the paint. After the first or second wash the first season (can’t remember which) I noticed some small water spots on the hood, panicked a bit and called the the installer. They said just give it a quick hit with some water spot remover (in this case I used Kamikaze because, well…I’m a junkie for that product line) which took care of the problem easily. Since that initial incident, it’s been a trouble free Summer, Fall (2019) and going forward to present day in that regard, no repeat incidents. The PPF was coated with Kamikaze Film Surface Film Coat after application for a bit of extra protection and that combo combined with the Cosmic Spritz, etc. has made for an easy maintenance routine so far. This car does get driven in the rain, will get rained on in the morning and then bake in the sun in the afternoon and in the Fall occasionally get buried in leaves if left in the driveway too long…all of which have thus far left no staining or other visual flaws on the painted surface.

Should there be some staining or similar, the warranty from STEK should take care of it (within reason, of course…dump a gallon of latex paint on it and well, that’s likely your own problem), another aspect that works better when you select a good installer. A warranty is only as good as the people doing the ‘warranty work’ and it has been mentioned to me by the installer that should I ever run into something like that, just bring it back and they re-do the panels/areas affected.

Random thoughts on the entire experience and a few other items

Things I’d like to do that I can’t:

1. Can’t get too crazy with the pressure washer when washing: The film will have some exposed edges here and there, ya just can’t cover every bend, twist and angle on a car (nor should you from what I’ve read) or hide every edge of the film so have to be careful with the pressure washer. Even with the widest 40 degree white tip on the gun, I generally stay farther away from the surface when rinsing and foaming. Haven’t had any issues but I don’t want to either; mostly a common sense approach works well enough, even with my sometimes flawed perception what common sense really is.

2. No waxing: Even though I’m a ‘coating junkie’, dropping some ceramic friendly wax on a car is sometimes a nice (and easy) way to spend a sunny afternoon. I have found some coating-friendly waxes that I like to use (Kamikaze Infinity) and I am dying to try the relatively recently released Polish Angel High Gloss Paste Wax but alas, won’t be using it on this car. No matter how carefully it’s applied, the risk of catching a film edge and getting some buildup there would not be a good thing, especially on black. Bummer, but a small price to pay for the other advantages of PPF.

3. Into every life a little rain (or shopping cart in this case) must fall: At some point midway thru the summer, the back corner of the car got really whacked by something, given the color left there I’m guessing it was a shopping cart or similar heinous device. It left a small tear in the PPF which, since it’s so small and inconspicuous, gave me a chance to muck about with the film up close and personal-like. While usually these ‘great ideas’ of mine lead to bigger problems, this turned out OK. I was able to carefully trim away a small piece of the torn film (with surgical scissors I ordered online), wet the area down, apply a little heat and re-seat the film. The edge remains a little jagged cuz that film is some pretty tough (and flexible) stuff and not wanting to go farther (Translation: “Make it worse”) I left it at that. I’d guess someone with steadier hands and a sharper eye could take a sharp knife and clean up the edge a bit but it’s so small and un-noticeable as is that I have no issues with it. Subsequent washings and maintenance since the incident indicate that so far, the film is nicely ?glued? to the surface at the edges, no lifting has subsequently occurred. Out of sight, out of mind!

In the end…

All things considered, if I was getting another car that I wanted to preserve as long as I could, I would definitely consider PPF again. While I didn’t go all-in on the full custom, partial disassembly option, this installation has exceeded my expectations even though I wasn’t sure going in what those expectations should be. I’m still a bit careful with the car, likely more than I need to be, mostly due to the investment involved in the process and my unfamiliarity with it’s capabilities in the long-term. Each wash I got a little more comfortable with it, what it can and can’t do and by next year I’ll likely be back to treating it just like one of our coated vehicles.

As mentioned, if you are pondering something like this be sure to very, very carefully check out the installer…in the end it’s the biggest piece of the puzzle. Find people you can trust and the entire affair becomes very, very entertaining with results you will truly appreciate. When we arrived the day of pickup, seeing the car in the shop brought an actual tear to my wife’s eye…is was that stunning. I can do some good work in my garage (well, good enough for me anyway) but to have top-notch pro’s do your car is simply on another level. The results are spectacular and the whole thing is very rewarding. And ya don’t have to lift a finger to boot.

Misc.

During my wanderings, I found this which I think is interesting; Agree, disagree…I dunno but I’ll read anything: Paint Protection Film: The Unspoken Details Many Consumers Aren't Told (you can Google it).

This update really came to mind recently because of an incident with my personal toy this week, a car I bought used w 12k miles and pondered PPF but in the end decided not to. Since it had 12k easy miles and a forgiving color (gray metallic) and was in great (but not perfect) condition w regards to paint, figured to just coat it instead of PPF.

This particular car just 'fits' me so well that I drive the heck outta it, probably about 1200 miles a month 'in season'. Freeway, backroads, grocery store...anywhere. Unfortunately, that's starting to show on the paint; little dings here and there and a larger rock/piece of pavement took a nice bit of rocker out Thursday. While the paint is a forgiving color, the primer and core of body panels are bright white...pretty noticeable. This is the reason I'll PPF any car going forward that I intend to drive a lot and care about how it looks.

Just some thoughts for anyone considering PPF.


 

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budgetplan1, your wife's C7 looks stunning. Thank you for your detailed write-up. As for the chips on your gray metallic 'toy' daily driver, they could be easily fixed using Dr Colorchip. I've done this on a number of my cars, including an Arctic Silver Porsche which was similar to your gray metallic, with great results.
 
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I had just the front bumper cover, headlight lenses and mirrors covered with 3M film 4+ years ago. I'd rate the installation about a B. It has performed well but the problem with a lighter color (Blade Silver) is that stone hits which don't damage the paint can still leave noticeable marks in the film. I'm at the point where I'll probably have it redone next spring.
 
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Wow, thanks for the detailed write up for those considering PPF.

Two questions: 1-Whats the cost for that kind of PPF installation and 2) Since the C7 is the wife’s toy, what’s your “personal toy” that “fits you so well” out of curiosity since you referenced?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
budgetplan1, your wife's C7 looks stunning. Thank you for your detailed write-up. As for the chips on your gray metallic 'toy' daily driver, they could be easily fixed using Dr Colorchip. I've done this on a number of my cars, including an Arctic Silver Porsche which was similar to your gray metallic, with great results.
Thanks...Touch up paint on the way although not my strong suit; Dr. Colorchip & I have battled previously on her C5.

I had just the front bumper cover, headlight lenses and mirrors covered with 3M film 4+ years ago. I'd rate the installation about a B. It has performed well but the problem with a lighter color (Blade Silver) is that stone hits which don't damage the paint can still leave noticeable marks in the film. I'm at the point where I'll probably have it redone next spring.
Long term, I kinda look at PPF (especially front of car) as a 'wear item'...easier to have PPF replaced where needed as opposed to respray. Ain't no free lunch I guess

Wow, thanks for the detailed write up for those considering PPF.

Two questions: 1-Whats the cost for that kind of PPF installation and 2) Since that’s the wife’s toy, what your “personal toy” that “fits you so well” out of curiosity?
PPF was a new frontier for me...ceramics offer a lot of nice benefits but impact resistance isn't one of 'em.

Full PPF generally start around $4500 around here and go up from there based on just how far ya wanna take it and who is doing it.

I ran across a 2016 Porsche Cayman last Labor Day w 12k miles and PDK, took a chance. Guess I like small, 'tossable' cars; only took 40 years and lotsa depreciation to figure that out.

I'm starting to like her car the more I drive it though; it's tough to beat a torquey V8...especially the sound of a cold start and a freeway on ramp. Being a lanky 6' 2" just wish it was slightly less 'cockpit-ish'. I think black C7's look positively sinister, far more than the round-ish C5 we had previously.
 

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Simple question. Why would you ever use a pressure washer on your car? I have ceramic and spray car down with cold water using shower mode on sprayer, wipe with triple micro towel, rinse with cold, and blow dry. Looks like new. Just trying to figure out the need for pressure.
 

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Simple question. Why would you ever use a pressure washer on your car? I have ceramic and spray car down with cold water using shower mode on sprayer, wipe with triple micro towel, rinse with cold, and blow dry. Looks like new. Just trying to figure out the need for pressure.
Foam cannon mostly but comes in handy for pressure spraying coated wheels/tires to remove the grime with no further cleaning (doesn't work as well on aggressive brake pad cars).

Also removes bugs from front ends, windshields. It uses the widest white 40 degree tip so it's a wide fan of spray, generally used from a foot or 2 away.

Don't use it aggressively much aside from wheels on PPF'd car but since I have it out for foam cannon may as well use it for wetting/rinsing as well...although I also have hose out for final flood rinse

Fairly common practice I'd guess, plenty safe and effective if used wisely.
 

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I just replaced the paint protection film (mask) on the quarter panel (behind the door/in front of rear wheel) that was factory installed on my 2017 C7. After 22k miles, it did its job and looked pretty beat up from rocks and road debris thrown up from the wheels/tires. I feared that the paint underneath would be damaged because the mask looked so damaged. Upon removing the factory mask, I was amazed that the paint was still untouched/perfect. I purchased replacement masks from the dealer, but discovered that they were very skimpy, and did not fully cover the quarter panel area as well as the originals. After I had installed the mask on the drivers side quarter panel I discovered a better set of quarter panel masks on the Internet, sold by West Coast Corvettes. Their masks cover the entire quarter panel, up to the seam between the quarter panel and the rear fender. Their kit also contained a strip of film which covered the lower part of the door, which can also be susceptible to rock chips and road debris. I had already installed the new dealership-purchased mask, so I removed it and threw it away. I returned the other, unused dealership mask and was given a refund. I installed the West Coast Corvettes quarter panel masks and the lower door masks. Like you, budgetplan1, I am a believer in the paint protection film. Although I did not have the entire car covered in a protective mask, I did have the entire front end (forward of front fenders) including hood, fenders, headlights, grill facia and mirrors covered. The lower front grill facia area is starting to look a little beat up, so eventually I will have that area re-masked, just to retain the pristine look. Like you said, better to have the car remasked rather than repainted. If you drive your car, you are going to get rock chips and other road debris damage, but the 3M paint protective film is worth every penny, in my opinion. I would have posted a photo, but you would not be able to tell where the quareterpanel mask is because it fits so well and just looks like the painted surface.
 
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