photos by: the author and Rick Seitz
XPEL Shows us How to Prevent Potentially Expensive Paint Repairs
Every time a vehicle’s tires hit the pavement, the driver runs the risk of chips and dings from debris on the road ruining the paint. Car lovers know that their vehicle is an investment and, rightfully so, it needs to be protected. Companies, like XPEL, have been a savior to the car community with their Paint Protection Films (PPF). This film-like wrap, coming in clear to satin finishes, does exactly what its title suggests; keeps the car looking brand new for years to come.
Mark Makarewicz, a Corvette Sales Manager of MacMulkin Chevrolet, put it simply when asked why he has been so successful with XPEL products. Mark wrote, “The product truly does sell itself. We show customers our vehicles we have with it on, and they understand the importance of PPF.” It is just that easy to see the quality of PPF products, and XPEL is among the best in the business.
XPEL offers a few different types of film for each individual need. One of the most revolutionary of XPEL’s PPF’s is its Ultimate film. This film has multiple layers with a clear coat on top which allows dirt and grime to be easily wiped off with a soft cloth. Not only that, but it also prevents the film from discoloring in the sun. The most extraordinary feature, though, has to be the healing technology.
Scratches and swirl marks that would ruin paint cannot even damage the Ultimate Film. Heat from the sun or warmth from a garage allows the film to literally heal itself and constantly keep the vehicle looking fresh. Not only is XPEL an amazing product, but they also stand behind their product 100%. The Ultimate Film comes with a 10 year warranty. If the film ever fails in any way, from cracking to discoloring, they will replace it for free.
XPEL also offers four other types of film. There is the Satin, with all the benefits of the Ultimate but in a satin finish. It is an easy way to give any car that satin look without having to get an expensive paint job to do so. TracWrap offers temporary protection and can be applied at home in less than an hour. Use it for a weekend trip or night at the track and cleanly peel it away when done. XPEL Xtreme is the clearest and thinnest of the films offered, allowing the paint beneath to shine through as if the film wasn’t even there.
It does not have the healing technology of the Ultimate but, if any piece is damaged, it can easily be replaced, and XPEL stands behind it with a seven year warranty. Finally, XPEL goes from the thinnest to the thickest with their Armor Film. The pebbled film is great for off-road vehicles and it too comes with a seven year warranty.
It is clear to see why XPEL is at the top when it comes to paint protection. The countless reviews on xpel.com boast about the benefits of using their products over any others. Mark Makarewicz initially used a different product in his business. He tells us, “We switched from [a competitive brand] to XPEL due to the demand by our clientele to offer the best products available to protect their vehicles.” XPEL can cover and protect it all; from headlights and windshields, to hoods and fenders, and even the entire car.
XPEL also uses top of the line software to create templates for their film. This software, called DAP Software, is constantly being updated so XPEL can create templates for thousands of vehicles. These templates make the installation smoother, faster, and more precise.
We were able to get an up-close look at an installation of XPEL Ultimate on a 2016 Corvette Z06 owned by Kenny Kneps. With their sticky tires, Corvettes are the perfect candidates for protection film. Rocks are constantly flung off the tires and down the side of the vehicle. Mark Makarewicz had this to say when asked about what Corvette owners want and need, “Corvette owners are wanting the absolute highest quality products for their cars. Corvettes are often the clients dream car. Between clients going to car shows and driving in caravans with various car clubs, they want their cars to be perfect and chip free.” Kenny Kneps is no exception to this, and on a chilly February morning, we were able to witness an XPEL Ultimate Clear front bumper installation.
XPEL does offer DIY kits, but only for small sections, like the door sill. The larger pieces are better left to professional installers. Certified installers can be found on the XPEL site. For Kenny Kneps’s 2016 Z06, we met Albert from Bloc-A-Chip who has been doing installs since 2002. Ideally, the install should be done in 60-70 degree temperatures and in a clean environment so no dust or debris gets in the film. Being Ohio, the weather rarely cooperates with car people. Kenny, though, was prepared with heaters in his garage to bring the temperature up a bit, and Albert was equipped with a heat gun to keep the film warm and pliable.
Of course the vehicle should be clean at the time of installation and not freshly waxed. A solution of alcohol can be used to wipe down the car prior to install to ensure it is properly prepped. The installer, too, should have clean hands and ideally should not handle the sticky side of the film too much to prevent fingerprints being left behind. After the car is prepped, the installer will use two different solutions, one a mixture of soap and water and the other alcohol and water. These solutions have different purposes; one to slide the film around and the other to help it stick.
PPF needs to be installed wet to allow it to slip around on the vehicle and make it easier for the installer to place it in just the right spot. The soap solution is sprayed on the car and even on the film so it does not stick before the installer wants it to. This can be a very tedious process, even with the film already cut to size with the DAP template.
Once the film is where the installer wants it, it is time to start sticking it down. Now the alcohol solution is used as well as a squeegee. Albert’s solution was 70% alcohol to 30% water. This number can vary depending on who is doing the installation as well as the weather conditions. The installer will lift corners of the film to spray the solution underneath, smooth the film back down, and use the squeegee to push the excess solution out as well as any air bubbles. In Albert’s case, he used a heat gun in addition to the squeegee because of the chilly temperature. A heat gun, though too, can help stretch the film to get just the right fit. However, the installer needs to be careful that the film does not get too soft and hot.
The final piece of equipment is a blade to trim and tuck the film around the lights, blinkers, grill, etc. This is a very tedious process because the installer has to be exact and careful not to cut the film wrong or the paint underneath. The whole process requires patience and skill and is definitely left to the professionals, like Albert.
After the film is all set, the car is not instantly ready to go. The film needs to cure for at least 24 hours. After that time it can be hand washed but not waxed until a week later. Once the waiting period is up, the vehicle can be washed, waxed, and driven with the knowledge that the paint is protected and guaranteed for 10 years. In Kenny’s case, the price for his bumper was $400. This, naturally, will vary by vehicle. However, this is a small price for Kenny to pay when a bumper repaint for his C7 Z06 would cost around $2000. It makes sense to spend a little for PPF now rather than a lot more for a repaint later.
Ashley Cegelka basically grew up at car shows as a kid, which nurtured her love of classic musclecars. As she got older, her love heightened for the Ford Mustang specifically, and her first car was an ’83 Mustang with T-Tops that her grandpa helped her to get out on the road. Now that she’s grown her summers are spent at car shows and the dragstrip, taking in the rumble of an awesome engine and the clean lines of a great ride.