Applying Protective Windshield Film: Your DIY Step-by-Step Guide


As a Jeep owner you know better than anyone what it’s like to have constant rock chips in your windshield. Whether it’s within 6 months or 6 days of picking up your new Jeep - it’s bound to happen. The reality is that the Wrangler (and now Gladiator) windshields are one of the most vulnerable parts of these off-road classics, and Jeep owners face some of the highest windshield replacement costs of any car owner just because of how often it’s needed. 

If you’ve been looking for a solution to this problem for a while, you may have come across windshield protection film products. They’re basically like a giant phone screen protector, but for your Wrangler or Gladiator windshield. While windshield protection has traditionally required the skills of an experienced installer, new DIY kits are now becoming available, especially for Jeep owners. 

At ExoShield, we even have a Jeep-specific film that is 60% thicker and DIY friendly, making it a great option for Jeep owners who are tired of replacing their windshields, and want something they can install themselves in their garage.

Choosing the Right Windshield Protection Film for Your Jeep

When choosing a windshield protection film for your Jeep, it's important to select a film that is designed to withstand tough conditions. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right one for you:

DIY vs Professionally Installed

This one really just comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. DIY kits tend to be a little more cost effective than having the film professionally installed, but chances are it’ll take you a little longer, and you risk more contamination if you do it yourself. 

If you’re a generally handy person and looking for a cost-effective solution, the DIY kits could be a great option for you. If you’d rather shell out a bit of cash to avoid the hassle, finding a local installer who carries the film will probably be your best option. Just make sure that if you go the professional installer route that you’re asking which type of film they are putting on your windshield to make sure you’re not getting a thinner, less impact resistant film. 

High Quality Materials

Not all windshield protection films are created equal! Especially for Jeeps or other vehicles with flat, nearly vertical windshields, you’ll want to look for a windshield film that has high impact resistance and high scratch resistance. This will maximize the performance and overall durability of the film. 

Your Make and Model

When selecting your windshield protection film, especially if it’s a DIY kit, make sure you’re choosing the kit that’s designed for your vehicle. Although they’re similar in size, the measurements of the Jeep JL vs JK windshields are not exactly the same, so it’s important you choose the right one for your model. Note that JL and JT (Gladiator) windshields are identical (so anything 2018 or newer) while the Jeep JK windshield (2007-2017) differs slightly. 

If you have an older or alternative Jeep model, don’t worry! Professional installers will be able to cut ExoShield ULTRA to size on select other vehicles

Tools to Install DIY Windshield Protection Film

Keep in mind that this only applies to windshield protection film kits that are designed to be DIY. Purchasing a kit like this will come with film that is already pre-cut and perfectly molded to fit your windshield. If you’re interested in installing film off of a bulk roll, you will need significantly more tools and experience and it should not be attempted at home! 

If you are considering a DIY kit, here’s a checklist of tools you should have on hand. If you don’t have experience with film, we recommend opting for a DIY kit that includes tools.

DIY Tools Checklist

  • The film kit (make sure it's the right fit for your car's make and model)
  • A spray bottle filled with a mixture of soap and water (we recommend Dawn dish soap)
  • A squeegee to clean the windshield
  • A squeegee to install the film
  • A microfiber towel
  • Non-scratch scrub pad to clean the windshield
  • (Optional) high-quality glass cleaner

How to Install DIY Windshield Protection Film

Step 1: Clean your windshield…and then clean it again!

Contamination in your installation can be frustrating when you get to the end and realize there is a spec of dirt right in your line of sight while driving. When it comes to limiting contamination, thoroughly cleaning your windshield, surrounding vehicle, and workspace goes a long way! 

At this stage, you’ll also want to remove any coatings or Rain-x that might be on your windshield. We recommend cleaning with a 3:1 Water/IPA solution to ensure your windshield is free of any residual coatings before installing ExoShield.

Step 2: Position the film & release the liner

Once the windshield is cleaned and prepped, it’s time to get the film ready. The first thing you’ll want to do is position the film on the windshield. At this stage, take care to make sure you’ve got an even gap around each edge. If you have an aftermarket windshield, it’s important to be aware that the fit may not be perfect, as most DIY kits are generally designed to fit OEM windshields. 

Once the film is positioned properly, it’s time to release the liner. This will help prepare the film for the next stage where you’ll be installing the film directly onto the glass. With the film placed liner side facing out, pull the liner halfway across the windshield while continuously spraying your slip solution. Repeat on the other side. Make sure you’re not completely removing and throwing away the liner at this stage. The purpose of this step is simply to make the liner easy to peel when you’re installing the film.

Step 3: Installing the film

With the liner facing out, roll the film carefully and place it in a safe, clean place. Take care to note which is the top of the film so that you install the film in the correct orientation.

Since contamination is most likely to occur when the adhesive is exposed, we typically suggest a method called the “Reverse Roll” to help you install the film. This method limits the amount of time the adhesive is exposed to air, giving you the best chance at minimal contamination to deal with. 

After giving your windshield another good clean and spray with your slip solution, release a corner of the liner and place the adhesive directly onto the glass. Unroll the film while gently pulling the liner and guiding the film into place. If this sounds confusing - don’t worry! Watch the video below to see how it’s done.

Step 4: Position & Tack the film

Before you do your final pass over the film with the squeegee, make sure the film is properly positioned. As long as you have enough slip solution between the film and the windshield, you should be able to guide the film into place easily. 

Once it’s positioned, “tack” the film by squeegeeing across the center of the film - this is to hold the film in place while you squeegee out the moisture. 

Step 5: Squeegee out the moisture

With a thicker film, you’ll have to take care to squeegee several times to ensure there are no large pockets of water remaining underneath the film. It can take as many as 4-5 passes with the squeegee, applying a lot of pressure, to remove all the moisture. 

For our tips on removing moisture during the installation, check out the following video:

Step 6: Let it cure!

Once you’re confident that you’ve removed as much moisture as possible, it’s time to let the film cure! If you live in a warm, sunny climate, try to leave the vehicle out in the sun as much as possible over the next couple days. This will help speed up the curing process. It’s important to note that the optical clarity and impact resistance are not at their maximum until the film has fully cured, so if you notice some residual moisture or distortion right after installation, don’t worry! This will go away over the next few days. 

How quickly the film cures will depend on how much moisture you were able to remove during step 5, so taking care to squeegee out as much water as possible is key.

Aftercare Instructions for Windshield Protection Film

After you’ve installed the film, it’s important to follow the proper care instructions to maximize the longevity of the film. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your windshield protection film:

  • Avoid washing your vehicle or using wiper blades for the next 24 hours or so if at all possible
  • Avoid using a pressure washer to clean your windshield as this can damage the film prematurely if done improperly
  • Use ammonia-free cleaners to clean your windshield. Look for anything that specifically says “ammonia-fee” or “tint safe”

Be sure to consult any official care instructions you receive with your windshield protection film kit to ensure your windshield is looking great for years to come!

Installing a DIY windshield protection film can be a simple and cost-effective way to avoid replacing your windshield constantly, especially if you’re someone who loves working on their own vehicle! We suggest reviewing the instructions and videos provided here a few times before unboxing your kit, just to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into!

Good luck, and happy squeegeeing!

Learn More About ExoShield Products


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