DIY Windshield Protection Film for Jeeps: A Comprehensive Guide
Jeep Wrangler & Gladiator windshields are notorious for being vulnerable to chips and cracks, especially when driving on uneven terrain or highways. A decade ago, the cost to replace your windshield was likely still manageable - $100-200 on average - which meant that annual (or more) windshield replacement costs were just an acceptable cost of ownership.
Fast forward to 2023, and replacing any new Jeep windshield can be very expensive, and for those of us who don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage for the windshield, that expense is not one we’re willing to deal with! We tried putting in the specs for a 2023 Wrangler, and according to the quote calculator tool we used from Safelite, the cost ranges from $600 for the most basic replacement (no ADAS systems like active braking, adaptive cruise control) to $1790 if you have advanced driver assist features and want gorilla glass replacement.
Add in the fact that many of us are faced with windshield replacements every year or more, and the cost can add up quickly.
If you’ve owned a Jeep for any significant amount of time, you’re well aware of this issue. Maybe you even have or have thought about getting Gorilla Glass. While this can help reduce the number of replacements you need, it also makes each replacement significantly more expensive, and depending on how much you drive, you could still be seeing that $2k bill annually.
Even though it can be a difficult pill to swallow, there are some things you can do to help make Jeep ownership a little easier and a little less expensive.
How to Protect Your Jeep Windshield
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a way to make your windshield stronger, or more impact resistant, we have good news for you. There are products on the market that are designed to act as a protective layer on the outside of your windshield to absorb the impact of any rocks or whatever other debris hits your windshield.
If you’ve ever had a phone screen protector, this is very similar. These films are designed to be transparent and resistant to wiper blade scratching (although this is something to be aware of - read more below)
Windshield protection film provides a layer of protection against rocks, debris, and other hazards that can cause damage to your windshield. It is a clear, adhesive film that can be applied to the windshield and removed when no longer needed to leave your windshield looking like new.
Let’s walk through everything you need to know from the benefits of windshield protection film for Jeep’s specifically, how you can install it at home, and what to expect once it’s installed.
Benefits of Windshield Protection Film
The main benefit of windshield protection film for Jeep owners is pretty simple - stop replacing your windshield every 6 months.
is that it provides a layer of protection for your windshield. Rocks, gravel, and other debris that hit your windshield can cause chips and cracks, and over time, these can turn into larger cracks that require windshield replacement. Windshield protection film can help prevent this damage from occurring, saving you money in the long run.
Another benefit of windshield protection film is that it is cost-effective compared to replacing a windshield. Windshield replacement can be expensive, especially if you have to do it frequently. Windshield protection film is a one-time cost that can save you money in the long run.
Finally, windshield protection film is easy to apply and remove. You don't need any special tools or equipment to apply the film, and it can be removed when no longer needed without leaving any residue behind.
Who can Install a DIY Kit?
While DIY kits are made to be installed by almost anyone, there are two main things things you’ll want to consider before jumping in:
You Like DIY Projects
How handy are you? If you’ve never taken on a DIY project before and the thought of assembling an IKEA desk is the stuff of nightmares, you may want to consider taking your vehicle to a certified installer to get a quote. This is definitely
You have somewhere to install it
Aside from being confident that you’ll be able to install the kit yourself, you will need somewhere relatively clean and warm to install it. If you have a clean garage and the weather is decent, you can absolutely install in there. Keeping the door closed and turning off any fans or airflow is also helpful to reduce dust and dirt in the air.
We generally recommend avoiding installing the film outside since there’s a very high chance of contamination from dirt or debris flying around.
Tools You’ll Need to Install DIY Windshield Protection Film
To apply our DIY windshield protection film kit, you’ll need the following things:
- The film (each kit comes with 1 piece of film that is unique to your vehicle make & model so you won’t need to do any cutting)
- Spray bottle
- Dawn dish soap & water
- Hard Squeegee for installing the film
- Medium squeegee for cleaning the vehicle (a shower squeegee will also work!)
- A non-scratch scrub pad for cleaning the windshield
- IPA (if you have any coatings or use Rain-X on your windshield)
- Clean microfiber towel (or 2) for cleaning
- Ammonia-free glass cleaner (e.g. Invisible Glass)
Steps to Apply Windshield Protection Film
For a comprehensive step-by-step set of instructions, we recommend watching the video. You can expect the process from start to finish to take you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how efficient you are. If you’re just curious about what’s involved, here’s a quick overview:
- Cleaning (5-15 minutes)
- Positioning & Prepping the Film (5 minutes)
- Installing the Film (5-10 minutes)
- Final Squeegee Steps (10 minutes)
What to Expect from DIY Windshield Protection Film
The quality of the product you’re getting in your DIY kit depends on the quality of the manufacturer, and whether or not the kit you’re buying is produced specifically for your vehicle.
ExoShield ULTRA kits for example use the same quality film as any professional ExoShield installer, except it’s about 60% thicker to give extra impact protection for flat glass windshields like your Jeep. The manufacturing process, the components in the layers, and the optical quality are all identical to our premium bulk film rolls.
As far as the quality of the installation is concerned, that really comes down to what you’re looking for, and your patience! The key to a quality installation comes down primarily to 2 things: (i) reducing contamination by keeping your space clean and working as efficiently as possible, and (ii) taking extra time at the end to squeegee out any excess moisture. This will give you the highest chance of a seamless installation.
It’s important to keep in mind that these kits are only suitable for select models where there is no significant curvature to the windshield. For anything like a Tesla or even a Volkswagen Jetta, you’ll definitely want to take your vehicle to a professional. Even if there are kits available, these larger, more curved windshields are much more difficult to work with, and your chance of success is low if you try to do it yourself!
In the first few days after you’ve installed the film on your Jeep, you’ll likely notice some moisture between the film and the windshield. This is normal, as long as you’re confident you squeegeed out as much moisture as possible with 3-4 passes with your squeegee blade before letting it dry out. On that note, letting your vehicle sit in the sun and choosing a warm day for the installation will also help speed up this drying and curing process, to give you maximum impact resistance and clarity a lot faster.
Is DIY Windshield Protection Film Worth it for Jeeps?
A DIY Windshield protection film kit like ExoShield ULTRA is a cost-effective and easy-to-apply solution for protecting your Jeep's windshield from rock chips and cracks. The kits are designed to be relatively user-friendly, and there are plenty of support resources to help you through the process. So if you’re a more DIY-inclined person and are looking for a windshield protection solution for your Jeep, it’s definitely worth a try! Your wallet (and your windshield) will thank you for it.
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