How long will PPF last? It’s a question that clients visiting our Hampshire detailing studio will often ask. So, in this month’s article, we will answer that very question.
How long will PPF last?
First, it’s important to emphasise that not all PPFs are equal. We work with Xpel because we consider their top-grade self-healing paint protection film the best. One of the things we love about Xpel is its adhesive qualities. It is known for being strong, something that can make installations more challenging, but it adheres to the paint amazingly well once it is down. A film with weak adhesive can be more prone to lifting on edges or even areas mid-panel where there is tension or recesses. Especially when on a bonnet or engine cover that will become hotter than anywhere else on the car.
Similarly, an installer’s expertise will be a contributing factor to the lifespan of your PPF. Matt and I are both Xpel factory-trained installers. Continual investment in equipment and training ensures that your car receives the best service and fit and is as close to an invisible installation as possible.
Why installation expertise is essential:
Film alignment is crucial. PPF doesn’t like to sit right on the very edge of a panel, where it starts to roll over. The film must either be a millimetre or two back from that edge or wrap completely around it to the back of the panel, where it can grab a flat surface. PPF doesn’t like doing anything other than sitting flat! Only an installer with experience can coax the film into sitting nicely on complex shapes.
Other factors that influence the lifespan of your PPF:
It is important to remember that PPF isn’t infallible or indestructible. You need to take care of the material. Using harsh chemicals, both acidic or alkaline, such as those often found at hand car washes, will eventually dull the finish and diminish self-healing capabilities. Similarly, using harsh mechanical car washes can cause problems. In these cases, the big spinning brushes can batter the film. The result will be premature film wear or lifting of exposed edges.
PPF is sacrificial, and if you drive your car on track or at high speed close to other vehicles (on driving tours, as an example), the film will likely take a battering and might need replacing once it gets scruffy.
However, remember, this is the PPF doing its job and protecting the paint underneath. Once a new installation is complete, it’ll look fabulous again (and retain the originality of your car).
Xpel PPF is warranted for ten years against factors such as discolouration and delamination*.
* PPF is made of many very thin layers of material, laminated together, and delamination is where these layers start to separate.
That said, the film’s real-world lifespan will depend upon various circumstances. On a car kept in a garage and used occasionally, it could still look fabulous for longer than that. A daily driver exposed to all sorts of environmental and lifestyle conditions might benefit from replacement after five years. This isn’t a failure of the film; it’s doing its job protecting the car during this time.
Getting the most out of your PPF:
PPF isn’t challenging to look after. Quite the contrary, it’s straightforward. We always recommend a ‘safe wash’ regime for your vehicle, whatever treatment it has had. Avoid harsh chemicals and use a pH-neutral shampoo. Wash things like bug splats and bird droppings off as soon as possible.
Xpel makes a specific PPF cleaner for the more stubborn stains, such as bug splats, which is very good. You can buy it from Xpel UK.
You should be careful using jetwashes; don’t get too close with the nozzle. And don’t point directly at the exposed edges, as this can cause the film to lift. The same goes for using solvents to remove tar. Please keep it away from any exposed film edges to prevent damage to the glue and subsequent lifting. The warranty would cover none of these things, which are obvious when they occur.
Avoid using paste waxes or abrasive polish (yes, Autoglym Super Resin Polish, I’m looking at you), as you don’t want to risk product build-up at the edges. Instead, use a spray sealant or quick detailer with a ceramic element. These products will take just minutes to wipe on and buff off. Furthermore, they add beneficial hydrophobic properties to the film, making it easier to clean next time.
Your car will be a joy to look after once PPF has been installed. A bit of thought and good practice should mean minimum effort for maximum results.
We hope this has answered the question, “How long will PPF last?” But if you need more information, please do get in touch.