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Best Paint Protection Films for Your Car: Keep That Showroom-Fresh Look Forever

Don’t let your paint suffer from scratches, chips, and other kinds of damage.

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON February 17, 2022

Picture getting a new paint finish and a few weeks down the line it’s marred with scratches and chips from road debris or low-hanging branches. You can avoid the stress of repairing or waxing over the scratches by wrapping your vehicle’s body with paint protection film. It lowers the risk of your car’s paint being scratched, which is oftentimes unavoidable. I took a hard look at the latest paint protection films  for cars and came up with a solid list of winners to preserve your vehicle’s look.

Best Overall

3M Clear Paint Surface Protection Vinyl Film

Summary

Thick, flexible, and highly forgiving, this paint protection film delivers long-lasting coverage that keeps your paint looking brand new for longer.

Pros
  • 6 mm thick
  • Easy application process
  • Lasts up to five years
Cons
  • Expensive
Best Value

Xpel Clear Universal Paint Protection Film Kit

Summary

A roll of polyurethane paint protection film with a clear coat finish for maximum shine and durability.

Pros
  • Prevents chipping, scratches, and scuffing
  • Impact resistant
  • Virtually invisible
Cons
  • May not cover all four door sills
  • May not roll out well on oddly shaped doors unless heated
Honorable Mention

Vvivid Clear Paint Protection Vinyl Film

Summary

Extra thick and extra sticky, this paint protection film is able to protect areas of your car’s exterior all while blending in seamlessly.

Pros
  • Super strong, long-lasting adhesive
  • Won’t damage paint or headlights if removed
  • 8 mm thick
Cons
  • Unforgiving application
  • Corners and edges can peel up
Best Paint Protection Films for Your Car: Keep That Showroom-Fresh Look Forever

Our Methodology

I searched for the best paint protection film for your car by looking at the different products available online. To choose the highest-quality, most durable options for any vehicle, I looked at details such as the visibility of the film once applied, the application and its difficulty level, and the material of the film. I also took users’ real-life experiences with these films into account, reading reviews and ratings online to assess how each product performed out on the road or parked in a driveway.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Paint Protection Film for Your Car Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Size: 60 in x 6 in
  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Finish: Clear with shine

Pros

  • Virtually invisible
  • Protects against chips, scratches, and other road damage
  • Lasts up to five years
  • Extra thick

Cons

  • Higher price


When it comes to paint protection, it’s hard to top a roll of 3M Clear Paint Surface Protection Vinyl Film. The thick polyurethane film is 6 mm thick and can keep your paint safe from chipping, scratching, and other road damage. Once installed, the film is virtually invisible, meaning it can blend seamlessly into your exterior. Installation isn’t difficult; this paint protection film is very forgiving as long as you use water and a squeegee to apply it. You’ll be able to move, adjust, and smooth as much as you need to in order to achieve a perfect fit.


While this paint protection film is easy to work with and nicely protective, it comes with a more expensive price tag, and you’ll likely need multiple rolls if you’re hoping to cover large areas of your vehicle.

Specs

  • Size: 60 in x 2.75 in
  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Finish: Clear, with shine

Pros

  • For high-traffic door jambs
  • Includes installation accessories
  • Blends in
  • Protects against scratches, chips, and scuffs

Cons

  • Best for small areas
  • May not fit easily onto oddly-shaped areas

The Xpel Clear Universal Paint Protection Film Kit includes a 60-inch by 2 3/4-inch roll of polyurethane film intended to protect the inside of a vehicle’s door jambs. It also comes with a plastic scraper to help smooth out the film.


The Xpel kit is our best value for good reason. This clear film kit does a good job of protecting the surface from scratches, chips, and scuffs. The door jamb area can be prone to taking abuse from boots and shoes, and the Xpel kit works as intended. We also like that it makes the door sill easy to clean, and you can hardly tell it’s there once installed.


There are only a few problems that I see with the Xpel kit. The kit is intended to protect your door sills, but there might not be enough to protect all of them. Also, odd-shaped door sills might make it difficult to install without heating up the film first, but this is typical of a universal kit.

Specs

  • Size: 48 in x 6 in
  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Finish: Clear

Pros

  • Goes on clear
  • Strong adhesive
  • Won’t damage paint or headlights
  • Protects against scratches and other damage

Cons

  • So sticky it’s almost permanent
  • Corners and edges can peel back

Gravel, sand, even dirt blowing across the highway can all leave behind scratches, especially if you aren’t using VViViD Clear Paint Protection Vinyl Film. This totally translucent film covers your car with an 8-mm-thick layer of protection that can reduce scratches and paint chips caused by common road debris. You’ll barely notice its virtually invisible nature once it’s properly installed, and the super-sticky adhesive backing keeps the film secure even in the face of many miles and unpredictable weather. Plus, you’re getting both the paint protection film and everything you need for installation, like a detailing squeegee and anti-scratch decals. Best of all, you can remove this film without causing any damage to your paint or your headlights. 


The only potential drawbacks you might run into are the stickiness and the application process. It’s so adhesive that if you don’t properly soap-and-water the film, it can stick and cause errors or flaws in the final result. Be extra careful around corners and edges to prevent future peeling.

Specs

  • Size: 150 in x 5/8 in
  • Material: Urethane
  • Finish: Clear, with shine

Pros

  • Tough 
  • Protects from chips, scratches, and more
  • Appears invisible
  • Self healing

Cons

  • Requires careful application
  • Might not adhere if stretched too much

When it comes to the areas of your car that are banged, bumped, touched, and stepped on most often, the Install Proz Self-Healing Clear Paint Protection Film Kit can handle it all. While this paint protection film won’t cover large areas of your vehicle, it will protect some of the most high-traffic areas from chipping, scratching, and scuffing. This thinner film is 8 mm thick and highly durable, able to withstand frequent damage-causing events thanks to its self-healing nature. It’s even clear-coated to prevent yellowing over time. Application is permanent, so you’ll want to be careful and take your time.


Additionally, you will need to apply heat (using a hair dryer or heat gun) to seal and successfully bond this film to your vehicle. Be cautious about overstretching or applying to highly curved surfaces, as you may lose adhesion.

Specs

  • Size: 100 ft x 6 in
  • Material: Poly-plastic
  • Finish: Clear

Pros

  • Withstands heavy weather
  • Protects against track debris
  • Thick
  • Won’t change in temperature extremes

Cons

  • Visible after application
  • May peel back after time


The Track Armour Temporary Track Day Paint Protection features a clear adhesive film that is designed for road trips, autocross, or a day at the track. It's a temporary solution that protects your vehicle at high speeds from rock chips, tire chunk marks, and other debris. It comes with a felt-tipped squeegee and takes just a few minutes to apply.


The poly-plastic film looks a lot better than the blue tape you often see at the track. Since it's 4 mm thick, it's strong and durable yet pliable enough to maneuver around your vehicle's edges. It's also simple to remove and won't leave behind any residue. It doesn't blister in the heat and holds up well in cold weather. Plus, you can safely install it on clear bras and wraps.


However, it can start to peel back after driving at high speeds for a long period of time. It may be too thin to protect against large rocks, and it can be tough to conform to certain contours on your vehicle.

Specs

  • Size: 84 in x 6 in
  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Finish: Clear, with automotive-grade finish

Pros

  • Virtually invisible
  • Protects against light scratches and swirls
  • Keeps paint glossy
  • Realistic appearance

Cons

  • Prone to bubbles
  • Bubbles don’t disappear with time

If you don’t want to deal with peeling edges or not-so-sticky adhesive, then you’ve got to check out the Xpel R4003-P Clear Paint Protection Film Roll. This product protects your vehicle’s sleek paint job, keeping it scratch, swirl, and smudge free with an 8-mm-thick layer of protection. This automotive-grade film blends right in and is virtually invisible, leaving behind little more than an automotive-grade level of gloss. It can combat road debris and prevent rocks, gravel, sand, and other common scratch culprits from leaving behind scars on your exterior. And when you’re installing, you’ll notice this film is extra sticky, even with lots of water.


However, because this paint protection film is so adhesive, it’s tricky to apply without any bubbles. And if you do create bubbles during application, this film isn’t like others that will dissipate them over time; the bubbles are there to stay.

Specs

  • Size: 33 ft x 2.7 in
  • Material: Nano-polyurethane gel
  • Finish: Clear

Pros

  • Temperature resistant
  • Protects against chips, scratches, and scuffs
  • No residue when removed
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Difficult to apply without fingerprints
  • Directions aren’t the clearest

With a roll of CloudBuyer Edge Guard Protection Film, you’ll have exactly what you need to protect the flat areas of your car’s exterior. Edges, doors, bumpers, and sills are all suitable for this film, as long as they are curve-free and perfectly flat. It will prevent scratches, scuffs, and paint chipping with a great level of wear resistance, a high temperature resistance, and anti-aging formulation to prevent yellowing over time. It’s even water resistant and able to be removed without a trace, giving you great versatility now and into the future.


Take your time applying this protective film to your vehicle. It’s hard to master without leaving fingerprints behind, and the directions aren’t very clear, which can make mistakes more likely.

Our Verdict

When it comes to all-around protection and durability in the face of scratch-causing elements, 3M Clear Paint Surface Protection Vinyl Film is a standout product. You can apply it without worry, thanks to its forgiving and protective nature. If you’re looking for value in addition to protection, the Xpel Clear Universal Paint Protection Film Kit is another great option that’s more affordable and still solid at keeping scratches off your exterior. 

What to Consider When Buying Paint Protection Film for Your Car

Before you slap just any paint protection film onto your car, make sure the products you’re considering are worth investing in. Here’s what to consider when picking out a quality film with long-lasting protection. 

Types of Paint Protection Film

Sprayable Paint Protection Film

Just like it sounds, sprayable paint protection film is applied to your vehicle with a spray can. When your vehicle is clean, you make several passes with the spray can over the painted surfaces that you want protected by the clear film. Once the film is dry, it will have self-leveled and become a clear finish. Sprayable protection film leaves a durable, clear film, but it will only last about a year before needing to be removed and reapplied.

Paint Protection Film Sheets

Protection film also comes in sheets or rolls. This is the most commonly used film by professional installers and shops. Once the vehicle has been completely cleaned, the sheets are laid across the targeted areas and applied with squeegees to remove air bubbles and hide seams. Quality installs might even include wrapping the film underneath or behind body panels to give the paint protection film a seamless look.

Key Features of Paint Protection Film

Self-Healing Layer

There are several films on the market now that feature a self-healing layer. The base layer absorbs impacts, while the self-healing top layer protects the appearance of the film. While this layer won’t erase tears or gashes in the film, it will repair swirls and scratches in the top layer of the film when heat is applied. This keeps your film looking new and clear for much longer.

Installation Kits

It might be worth your time to purchase an installation kit if you plan to DIY. Paint protection film is best installed with tools like squeegees, spray bottles, and special knives. Kits that offer these tools will make your installation a lot less frustrating, and your end result will have a more professional look.

Pricing 

Rolls of clear bra can be had for less than $20, but they’re small. These rolls are ideal for replacing small areas or protecting bike frames and motorcycles. There is a wide variety of sizes and brands available from $20 to $80. You can mix and match roll sizes to cover your vehicle while minimizing waste. Large sheets of film and custom kits are available for more than $80. You can also find manufacturers that will cut panels for your exact model’s fenders, hood, and bumper.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How long does paint protection film last?

A: Depending on the quality and how well you apply it, paint protection film can last 5-10 years. That lifespan can be significantly reduced with aggressive off-road riding or frequent exposure to inclement weather. You can hire a professional car detailer to install the film if you are worried about damaging it. 

Q: Does paint protection film damage the finish on a car?

A: Not if you apply it according to the manufacturer’s directions. You typically need warm soapy water to apply the film, which isn’t corrosive to most car finishes. Also, do not exceed the recommended time to leave it on since it could potentially damage the paint when it starts to age. You can peel it off sooner if you notice any cracks on it. 

Q: What condition does your paint need to be in to install paint protection film?

A: Ideally, the film will be installed on a new car. If your car’s painted surfaces are in rough shape to begin with, don’t expect the film to hide it. For optimal performance, paint protection film needs to be installed over clean, debris-free paint and clear coat. Any rust or scratches will definitely show through the film. It may be worth having your car detailed before you start your installation.

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